THE FUTURE knew differently a storm was coming around the next corner. It would be unexpected and devastating. He chuckled to himself poor human beings ill prepared for the tempest as usual, just what I like!
You do not know what the future holds; it can be prosperous, cruel or unlucky. Who knows, who has shuffled your deck? One thing that can help to deal with surprises is being prepared and planning ahead. THE.CONTENDER has been planning for the future for some time in the 1st post of this series we covered Budgeting and the 2nd post covered investing (with the latest Early Retirement spreadsheet planner).
In this 3rd post we are going to cover future life plans and in particular 18 rules THE.CONTENDER has come up with to prepare for early retirement The first version of PERL (Planning for Early Retirement and Life) will follow in the 4th post in the series with you dear reader. Click here for CERP - Contender Early Retirement Planner NOW AVAILABLE IN EXCEL FORMAT
Stormy weather ahead
THE.CONTENDER's future plans have changed many times and in many different ways down the years. Initially out of university THE.CONTENDER wanted to design and build chemical plants, whilst enjoying the associated travel around the globe. With the advent of cheap low cost flights business was happy to allow foreign trips for work without thinking about it twice. In personal lives everyone wanted and was seeing the world. THE.CONTENDER wanted in too.
The job was hopefully leading to an expat deal to live and work in a foreign country. Family and kids were there somewhere but really the whole thing was a bit woolly. THE.CONTENDER was flying by the seat of his pants and enjoying the ride.
First change of plan: my first job had nothing to do with chemical plants but it was in computer planning systems but THE.CONTENDER would travel a lot. Computers were up and coming and cool at the time so THE.CONTENDER jumped at the chance. Money started coming in and going out straight away to pay for student loan repayment and new car debt, as well as lots of fun, fun and fun. Family and kids were still there and the ex-patriot lifestyle...but after Ibiza somewhere in the future.
Next change - THE.CONTENDER met his wife to be - just the perfect match. We took things slowly at first. As we lived in different cities we only saw each other at weekends but soon we started talking more seriously. What about moving in with each other? Ex-pat life on hold; family and kids getting closer.....
Parting the clouds
So THE.CONTENDER dived in and changed jobs to be closer to London where future Mrs C was working then. That career he was pushing for started to move a little. We rented a flat in London and now were able to enjoy more time together whilst working a lot (v long hours) and lots of travel (in one year THE.CONTENDER was away from home from Monday to Friday for 27 weeks in total). After about a year we created our first PowerPoint plan for the future. How exciting!
We outlined our plans for the future. Started talking about getting married having children and looking at property to buy and settle down in London for the medium term. We had concrete plans agreed between us just for the immediate future, ie no further than the next few months. So much for planning ahead!
A ray of sunshine
Things changed after two key changes 1. we ditched the plan to buy a property in the UK and 2. we decided to marry and have a child. Now we had to have longer term plans. Our big long term goal was then to move to the French Countryside with no financial constraints - we thought we could do this in 15-20 years.
At that point in time we did not know of the Early Retirement movement. We did not even consider calling or planning retirement. To us it simply meant freedom. Freedom to spend time with our child as she grows up (we knew we wanted to have another child but you don't really plan for that do you?) and freedom do do as we wish.
So a 5 year plan was put into place to use our existing savings and salaries to work towards this goal we started out still thinking 15 years for early retirement but after refinement and learning to invest this was looking somewhat pessimistic - please see the post Family Financial Freedom in 7 Years! Here are some of the rules of life we have been following for the past 7 years:
Our 18 Life Rules
- Don't linger on the past learn from it and move on.
- Learn something new (and varied) every day.
- Avoid Procrastination - whats stopping you get a to do list on a simple pad and get on with the tasks. They can seem hard work in our heads but actually more often that not are completed quickly
- Understand yourself who are you? what are you good at? What are you bad at? What are your passions? What do you dislike?
- Be proactive - has the boss ever asked for help - be the first to offer. Is there a problem to be addressed - do some brainstorming and propose some solutions
- Take some calculated risks - Without taking risks you are doomed to stay the same old you. Our move to France has a lot of challenges such as a new language for THE.CONTENDER and buying a property.
- Have a go - is what you are going to do life threatening, illegal, going to put you out on the street? Probably not so give it a go, somethings fail but if you are passionate enough about it and put in the hard work miracles can and do happen.
- If it isn't working (and you have tried very hard) move on. This may sound like an odd one in this list but sometimes letting go of a loosing proposition is the best course of action. Your company is shrinking and you have a real struggle to get promoted - move to a growing company. Shares in a company doing badly (run your winners sell your losers)
- Get married and have kids and spend time with your family - it puts a whole new outlook on life. Being single and care free = over consumerism, loneliness, unbalanced lifestyle (work can take over) - I'm sure there will be a few complaints about this one:)
- Read a book - turn off the gadgets and actually concentrate on one thing for a prolonged period of time - a book!
- Time alone - this doesn't mean sit is a dark cupboard - try meditation, lifting some weights. Just some time for your brain to relax
- Have some fun! Make time to have a laugh with the kids, make pizza with them and get covered in flour, throw a stick for the dog to catch, play with a ball of string with the cat. Focusing on good positive thoughts are self re-enforcing, these positive thoughts nurture pro-activity which encourages you to over come procrastination to make the changes for the better in your life.
- Plan for the future - do not think about it every day schedule a time once a month in the calendar to have a look at how you are doing and what are the next steps.
- Wait and Save before buying - is it critical you your well being such as health, food, shelter, water, income if not do you really need it. If you do need it and it can wait save for it first!
- Avoid negative people - Being happy go lucky, smiling, full of life, humor, fun - don't you just love people like this they make you feel alive and that you can conquer anything. Compare that to a selfish, egotistic, narcissistic showoff.... no competition really befriend the first person and stay away from the second.
- Ask questions and listen - Isn't it nice asking people how they are, what have they been up to? Doesn't it make them feel important and valued? It is a great way to learn something new, learn about a different way of thinking or culture - you may even find out that they need some help or someone to talk to or you can tell them about what's keeping you awake at night.
- Save now to reap the benefits later - the average person has a long life in the West so you can expect to at least live into your seventies. It's really your choice if you want to forgo spending now which will most likely result in debt (debt is a call on your productive time for someone else gain) versus saving and reaping the passive income rewards in the future and hopefully early retirement
- Appreciate nature and the simple things in life - have you ever seen the film American Beauty where a home video is shown of the autumn leaves being blown around in the wind? Looking at and getting out in nature is wonderful. To further the example of the leaves the shear joy on the face of our 12 month child kicking fallen leaves is priceless.
The next 5 years - South of France Sunshine Here we Come
Now we have plans for the next 5 years and an idea of what we have on the horizon in THE FUTURE.
- We have decided where we wanted to live - see post CALP! Where to Live in Early Retirement?
- We have and still are learning how to invest - see post Investment Challenges
- We have considered the additional real world education we would like our children to learn. See posts: 10 Education Topics for Financial & Intellectual Freedom and Daddy CONTENDER a Financial Frugality Case Study of Bringing up Baby
- What will we do with all of the business skills we have developed down the years 10 Career Skills for Early Retirement
- Continue to be charitable Early Retirement at 36 - Charity Time
- We will Contribute to the community we live in
- We will keep ourselves in good health Keeping the tribe healthy
- Others that will be discussed in the future are spirituality, meditation, savouring the outdoors and contributing to society to name a few.
Our life plan consists of goals covering all of the above topics. We have a long term calendar including items such as university education for the kids, desired trips for their real world education and financial milestones. We have actions to make sure we are planning for real retirement when we are very old and inheritance planning for our grown up children.
We all have the tools to make changes and do whatever we want to in life (with in reason - astronaut at 50 is a little optimistic) here are three ideas on life planning for today:
- Why not write down what you want to achieve in the next year after that what about next 10 years and finally 10+ years time frames.
- Any immediate issues and concerns to address now? Start a to do list if you don't have one write down the actions and start crossing them off.
- Make a list of past achievements and key milestones in your life - keep them positive only. Review them a few days later or when you need a pick me up.
We live on a beautiful planet and have a finite time to fully enjoy its beauty plan how you want to max out life today
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