Do We Make The Most Of Life?

Life is one roughly 85-year-long experience defined by the culmination of lots of other smaller experiences.

During the last few weeks this has really struck a chord given the sad news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

Since her coronation in 1953, Her Majesty lived through 15 Prime Ministers, given her assent to more than 4,000 Acts of Parliament, visited over 100 countries, travelled at least 1,000,000 miles around the world and sent more than 300,000 cards to people celebrating their 100th birthdays.

She has lived an awesome life. Of course her circumstances are accompanied by privilege, this article is about making the most of what we do have. Her life has been enriched and enriching by her actions. She could have spent many years of her reign enclosed and shut off, but she has seen the world, met countless people, brought the Commonwealth together and been the patron of numerous charities.

But it’s not the case for everyone and in my profession, I witness the complete spectrum for how people experience life.

I see families who don’t make enough special memories in the precious little time they have together.

I see couples whose relationship fizzled away because they were chasing something in the future, forgetting their loved ones in the present.

I see parents who, in the career rat race, have left their children’s childhood behind. Most of the time this is all simply related to money, or rather trying to earn money. As we progress in early life and careers we are generally very aspirational, attempting to progress through a career ladder, get promoted and take home greater income to have enough in order to purchase a car / house, take holiday further afield or pay for school fees.

But the bigger picture is perhaps to ask what is ‘enough’? Instead of fixating on getting ahead, what if we simply focused on having enough and enjoying life? What is enough to enjoy the rest of our life? If the accumulation of ‘more’ is all you’re fixated on, ask yourself if you will ever have ‘enough’?

How might that change your priorities? Constantly worrying about things that are completely out of your control, like the stock market, the economy, even the weather, are a waste of time. Focussing on the positive and making the most of what we can change should take priority.

The older, possibly wiser, I become, the less I care about trivial things and the more I reflect on what truly matters. Comparing oneself to others doesn’t fundamentally change our own lives. If a friend told you he wanted to engrave “I had a better car than Fred next door” on his headstone, you’d laugh. But we do make these comparisons, in our attempt to “Keep up with the Jones’ “

Of course I’m not saying that in our younger years you shouldn’t be focussed, ambitious, driven. But I am saying that there should be a goal at the end of that ambition, that drive. When we’re overly focused on the future, it’s very difficult to be happy in the present. Nothing ever seems to be enough.

I get great satisfaction in my line of work when clients see me for the first few times without knowing what they want to achieve, or how they want their lifestyle to be. For me to have that input with them in formulating what they want to accomplish and planning on how it will be attained gives me great satisfaction.

We look to work with our clients, supporting them on their journey, to create a financial plan that is sustainable, yet flexible as required. Often prospective clients contact us because a life style event (birth, death, retirement, marriage and so on) has just occurred in their family or close circle of friends and they want to review their own personal situations.

It’s ok if that looks different for everyone. It should do, we are all different.

For some it’s about family, for others it might be freedom of choice or financial restraint. Many of my clients have been brought up post WWII, with the days of rationing and restrictions. Saving for the rainy day and being frugal is second nature. With these type of client, explaining that they have ‘enough’ for the rest of their days can provide a huge relief.

I have small and medium size business owners who were preverbally slogging their guts out in the 40’s, 50’s and continuing in their 60’s because they were focussed on the here and now. They didn’t stop and think if they had ‘enough’ for their goals. It makes me very happy when this type of client comes to see me for the first time and I explain that they can slow down, that they have the means to retire early and still have enough for the future.

Being assured that you have enough for the future can bring contentment in the present moment.

Lee Hinton is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments, holds the Cyprus Ministry of Finance Advanced Examination certificate and holds the UK Diploma in Financial Planning.

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