Why a plan in your 40s helps sanity

Why a plan in your 40s helps sanity

Vanessa Stoykov

Anybody who is in the throes of mid-life can tell you a few things.

Firstly, it’s damn busy. If you have kids, it’s even busier. If you work, it’s more demanding than ever. At home, there seems to be a never-ending list of chores to do. There’s little time to enjoy yourself, and when you do, you have a nagging feeling that you should be doing something else.

It’s also a bit like Groundhog Day. There are so many things you have do all the time. Make the kids brekkie, do the school run, pack the lunch boxes, catch the train to work, do your washing, go for groceries.

Now of course, these things are all part of life. As Confucius once said: “before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

But when you are in the thick of this, I have found, it’s great to have something to hold on to, to look forward to, and to aim for, that’s very different than the day-to-day you are dealing with now.

In the past, this thought may have been retirement. You may have dreamed about driving around Australia as a grey nomad, or going overseas as an endless wanderer. And this may still be the Mecca for some of you.

But for most of us, it’s the thought of doing something else, fulfilling shelved dreams and living as we want to that holds an allure, and keeps us sane in moments of pure exhaustion.

I call this the reinvention phase. We are all living longer, 90 is the new 70, and nobody wants to live without a purpose. I see blogs all the time now, about over 50s being encouraged to enter the new economy and start an online business. Which is great, but if you have no clue how to go about this, and have left your run late, then it gets pretty hard to do.

Reinvention needs to start earlier, while you are still in the whirlpool of your current life. There are a few reasons for this: firstly, it takes a long time to make a life plan happen. The earlier you know what you want, the earlier you can make it happen. For example, if you know you want to run an online business in the future, why not take a course at night on digital or online marketing, instead of watching Game Of Thrones?

Another reason is one of pure motivation. When you feel life is tough, it’s great to see a light at the end of the tunnel. This light is called hope, and it’s what keeps us moving forward. The goal of building a life you dream of is a great motivator to move towards.

Third, this reinvention needs to be paid for. The earlier you figure it out, the sooner you can put a cost to it. This is where a good financial adviser comes in. If you have a clearly defined plan for the future, they can help you cost it and work towards it. You are far more likely to create a successful reinvention if you have a strong plan around how you’re able to pay for it.

So do yourself a favour: start dreaming. Let yourself have 10 minutes a day to fantasise about ‘what if’. It’s the start of the reinvention process, and the benefits are endless.

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