As painful as it to admit, I am 47 and will be 48 before the year is out. My youngest daughter just started high school. My wife and I are starting to have the big conversation: What comes next? Sure, we still have to work for a while, but it won’t be long before we must (or should) decide what to do in the years left to us. (Hopefully there will be many.)
A couple disconnects we already know of: I am more keen on getting into a warmer climate and less keen on having a home that requires upkeep. She is fine with Cleveland winters (for the most part) and wants at least a small piece of land to do some gardening. We have a lot to talk about.
All this is a lead-in to my review of the new book How Do I Get There From Here? by George H. Schofield. It’s sort of a What Color is Your Parachute? for the 50+ set, asking you to take stock of where you are in life, where you’d like to be as work responsibilities wind down (or not), and how to get there.
Enjoying the “third act” in our lives is more difficult than you might think. After years of go-go-go in the work and family arena, we may suddenly have more time on our hands than we know what do with. And the things we might have desired when we were 24 are probably not the things we desire at 54 or 64. So we have to ask ourselves who we are, what we think we want (although we may find out it’s not what we want once we try it), and whether we can even afford to make the changes that get us closer to “there” from “here.”
Now, a smart person tries not to just jump in on big decisions, but instead does some research and makes a plan. How Do I Get There From Here? is the guidebook to making that plan. The book offers a template for big life decisions, but where it really shines is in the specific examples of actual people in a variety of circumstances, including the author’s own journey. More than anything, these examples made me stop and think. I could see aspects of myself in those examples, as well as aspects of my marriage and how things could play out with me and my wife. I need to spend more time with the book to really iron out my thoughts on what will be (or may be) in the road ahead.
This being a personal finance site, I should note that the whole exercise of planning a future assumes that you have a certain amount of control. That usually means enough money to have the flexibility needed to try out things such as moving to a new location or working part-time at a job that’s not about the paycheck. Schofield touches on this, but I think it’s worth mentioning often. Laying a solid financial foundation is the key to having options in later life. I hope you will do whatever you can to be on solid financial footing so you can explore life as an older adult in maybe a way that you’ve never been able to explore it before. This book may be able to help you there, too.