We’ve all heard of our inner child, what about our inner Elder?
So you’re thinking about saving for retirement. That alone is a sign that your relationship with money is evolving in the right direction, congrats! Maybe you’ve recently started to save or have an old 401k from a previous job, but haven’t done anything with it in a while. A lot of people I talk to are scared to even think about saving for the near or distant future. Wherever you find yourself on the path toward retirement, this article will help you cultivate a mindset that will ensure you reach your goals.
We are going to take a look at our current relationship with our future selves. You may be familiar with the concept of an “inner child.” What I’d like to introduce you to is the concept of an “inner Elder”. In order to be inspired to save money NOW for something so FAR AWAY in the future we need to presence ourselves to that future version of ourselves and cultivate compassion for that person and how their priorities and feelings might differ from our current selves. Without having an idea of what we desire for our distant future then we will have little or no motivation in the present to save for that future.
Before we get into that conversation though, I feel a need to address a general feeling among younger generations that the world is coming to an end sometime soon which might be giving people pause when it comes to investing for retirement. Climate change, overpopulation, corrupt governments, pandemics, zombie apocalypses… the list of things influencing this idea goes on. But this feeling of our impending doom is nothing new. For instance, my parents’ generation thought we were facing imminent nuclear annihilation during the Cold War. Since the dawn of humanity, we have faced many times where extinction seemed just over the horizon, and yet, here we are. I personally have a store of emergency rations, water and medical supplies in my basement right now because I was a Boy Scout and our motto is “be prepared”. But what about being prepared for a future scenario where the world doesn’t end? A future where you’re in your eighties and you want to take a trip around the world! A future where you might need a costly medical procedure or face chronic pain for the next 20-30 years. The apocalypse doesn’t scare me, working my ass off 5 days a week until I’m ninety years old does.
“Time to make the donuts!”
Life expectancy is said to rise by 10 years between 2015 and 2050. Women will go from 80-85 to 90-95 and men from 75-80 to 80-85 year life expectancy. Old age has also become a bit of a taboo topic in western society. We tend to house our elderly population away from us where we won’t be bothered by them while a drone is live streaming a video of us vaping on our electric scooters. People lie about their age on social media profiles, and have multiple 30th birthdays. Our society is living in denial that old age is even a thing that exists. No wonder 42% of people under 30 have no retirement savings and 26% between the ages of 30 and 44. But denying that time is linear and believing that it is in fact a snake swallowing itself isn’t going to change the fact that there is a very good chance… that at some point… in your lifetime… you will be 80 years old.
So who exactly is this elder version of you? What does their day normally look like? What is important to them? Let’s take some time to get to know your inner elder and set some intentions for who we want to be in the future. I think it is safe to say that a 70 year old version of you will have a very different set of concerns and desires than the present version of you. Even though I do love my job, I know that I don’t want to be hunched over tattooing every day until I keel over. I also don’t see myself retiring in the traditional “ shuffle board and bingo” sense of the word. The dictionary definition of the word retire is “to withdraw from, cease to work”. I don’t think that either of those things are what I want to do at any point in my life. So If I don’t want to retire or work myself to death, what do I see my inner elder doing on a day to day basis?
If I close my eyes and try to envision myself 30-40 years from now, the first thing I see is me walking on a long trail through the woods, the smell of moss and dirt and the quiet whisper of leaves brushing against each other. I see my wrinkly tattooed hand reaching down to pluck a mushroom. I see me in a garage tinkering with tools, building a rocking chair. I see my wife and daughter sitting down with me for a home cooked meal in our own house with vegetables we grew in our garden. After dinner we might go for an evening stroll down by the creek to watch the fireflies. I see my elder self flying to Portugal, New Zealand, Laos, taking pictures of myself on temple steps and eating exotic street foods. I see my elder self reading a lot of books and maybe wanting to go back to school for fun. I don’t want to have to hustle or rush anywhere. I want to slow down and enjoy every moment of my elder years. I’m 33 years old at the time of writing this and I am just now getting into taking naps. I have a feeling that my inner elder would want to perfect the art of nap taking.
Envisioning ourselves in the future helps us cultivate a sense of compassion and responsibility to help our future selves. I can see myself in the future being so grateful that I taught my present self how to save and invest wisely. Every time my bank automatically transfers funds from my checking to my retirement account I think about the awesome life I’m preparing for in the future and it has become a source of motivation for me to work hard and save more in the present.
What do you think of when you think of retirement? Who do you want to be after another 30, 40, 50 trips around the sun? I think it’s helpful to write down your intentions for your future self, preferably hand written as it cultivates a deeper personal connection to your future self. Hang what you wrote somewhere that you can see it regularly. This is a very powerful exercise that is guaranteed to shift your relationship with your future self and in turn, your relationship with money.
If you have any questions or don’t know where to start when it comes to retirement planning, I would be happy to speak with you about that. Just schedule a free Clarity Session and lets see how we can create a future that works for you now and for your future self.