Handling Your “Windfall”

Immersed in the beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley we are inspired to live physically healthy lives.  We hike, bike, ski, boat, and manage our diets wisely.  Combine this with the societal advances in healthcare – the majority of us will be the fortunate recipients of a long life.  Possibly, an additional 30 years as compared to the life expectancy at the turn of the last century.   This is a bonus, a boon a bonanza of time.  We need to rethink retirement and “old age”.

In her book, Don’t Stop the Career Clock, Helen Harkness, Ph.D., writes “If these extra years are handled wisely, our middle age will double dramatically into a new second midlife, while our old age shrinks.  She advises that these extra years should be treated as a precious gift and to “take and active hand in managing our windfall.”

The Baby Boom generation is entering this phase of bonus time.  It is imperative that we do it wisely and with intention.  The same generation that created the world wide web, the implantable artificial heart, DNA fingerprinting, and the concept of “free shipping”, is now moving into a time in life with more free time, good health and financial means.  This is the perfect storm for profound impact and change.

It is a time that we can recreate ourselves!  The founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and author of A Long Bright Future, Laura Carstensen believes that the actions of boomers will set the course for decades.  She writes “People are happiest when they feel embedded in something larger than themselves and when they are needed.”  She encourages everyone living in the second half of life to envision the steps – large and small that they can take to ensure a bright future.

We have the opportunity to move from a “job” – the stable lifetime work of the post Depression generation.  We even get the chance to look past the “career” era of a particular profession that brought financial success.  We are the recipients of another dimension – discovering our “calling” or “vocation”.  This is work with a deeper purpose or meaning, knowing that each of us has something unique to offer.

Instead of retiring – how about “rewiring”?  We need to understand the connection between doing what we love and doing something worth doing.  Helen Harkness continues “by knowing what we want and doing what we love, we can continue life’s journey with creativity, wisdom, power and purpose.”

Check out www.halftime.org whose mission is to guide marketplace leaders to transform first half success into second half significance.

There are financial implications for this phase of life.  Money may be able to buy happiness (temporarily) and to some extent; money can buy health.  But money cannot buy meaning.  You need to create it and make it happen.  You can use your financial resources to support you in crafting this second half meaning.  Ask yourself a few questions:  Over your life, what accomplishments have given you the greatest intrinsic rewards and why?  What activities or undertakings currently make you feel happy, energized, satisfied, purposeful?

What do you need to do in your financial life to create margin to pursue a meaningful existence?  Are there things that need to be cleaned up, repositioned, acquired, sold, given away?  When was the last time you looked at all the financial tools you have and what you are trying to build with them?
We have a choice – to move to move through this bonus time by default, or we can be designers of our destiny and fully enjoy the windfall graciously given to us!  Go exercise, eat well, enjoy today and decide what the first step in managing your windfall wisely is.

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