Your Life: More or Better?
Quality versus quantity, that’s always been the dilemma. Do you grab a hot dog at Costco or wait until you get home to prepare a healthful lunch?
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.” ~ Albert Einstein
Time is complicated, yet easy to think about in strictly quantitative terms. When do the kids start college? How many years until we retire? Will we have enough money to last the rest our lives?
Most financial plans, and planners for that matter, tend to deal with time in a linear capacity. The rest of your life becomes a calculation, using dollars over years to determine how good or bad those future years will be.
Unfortunately, this approach only measures a part of the bigger picture. To get a broad perspective of the years ahead you must also measure the quality of the time available to you. This is the more difficult job, but there are ways to make sure you get the most of the years you have, whether you’re 45 or 85.
The first step is awareness. What are the elements that go into determining the quality of your life? There are eight factors to help evaluate and understand the qualitative values of peoples’ lives leading up to, and in, retirement:
Vision, health, social connections, accommodations, interests, lifestyle, legacy, and financial.
To properly address these aspects of our lives, we need ways to measure them. To, in effect, find a picture of where you are right now. I’m not so naïve as to tell you that you’ll have whatever life you want simply by planning it out. This might work for proponents of The Secret, but for most of us, it takes more than that.
The key is to recognize the gaps between where you are and where you’d like to be, and then chip away at the changes until you get there. The caveat is that change is a constant, and while life rarely rolls out exactly as planned, working from a defined base is much better than winging it.
The thing to remember is that quality of life is never a relative measure, at least not relative to other people. It’s a measure of what you do with what you have. Everybody’s lot in life is different. Whether you struggle with physical challenges, or face each day alone, the real successes are the steps you take to make things better.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.