By Danielle Howard
Remember the memorable scene in the roadside diner in the 1989 movie "When Harry Met Sally," when Sally (Meg Ryan) wants to demonstrate to Harry (Billy Crystal) that men cannot tell when a woman is faking an orgasm? And then a woman sitting at a nearby table tells the waiter: "I'll have what she's having!"
Two great takeaways from this scene are:
It is difficult for any of us to discern between what is authentic and what is fabricated.
We often think we want what other people have.
As you head into your late summer, and fall season of life, many changes take place. Adult development theory uncovers that turning 50 is often a time when people ponder the direction of their lives, confronting their own mortality and wrestle with whether they are truly happy, or ask themselves if this is real or is it just an illusion.
What you are grappling with is the contrived cultural, media and financial services picture of what this second half of life should look like and what your personal construct of true wealth and prosperity is. Many people have become disenthralled with the treadmill practice in pursuit of more money and are shifting toward using their financial resources to create a life.
It is liberating and rejuvenating as you clarify your values, your aspirations, and your fervent preferences. You will then utilize your character assets and financial resources as the wind in your sails. It is not a matter of how much you have, but how you are living in your personal integrity.
Once you know what is real for yourself, you can modify your financial paradigm. You will shift from looking at what you are retiring from -- where the primary focus is building up that huge nest egg -- to what you are rewiring for. This will free you to look at how you want to bring money into your life, and how you can use it differently. You start using your money to support and sustain what is important to you and your family. You will be less likely to succumb to the emotions of fear and greed. You will be more intentional about how you use your days and your pocketbook. Your life will be lived with meaning and purpose.
Here is a place to start: Write a letter to yourself in 10 years. Where are you living, and what activities fill your day? What have you accomplished or what is bringing meaning to this season? Who are you with and what are you learning about or creating? Open the door to a discussion with those who are impacted by your life and financial decisions.
Next, inventory all of your financial assets to connect with how to utilize them wisely, efficiently and effectively to help you live a life of no regrets. Get wise counsel where warranted to make sure you understand tax ramifications and optimization techniques when creating cash flow from Social Security, pensions, retirement plans, e-commerce and other vehicles. There is little margin for error as you address lifestyle, liquidity, longevity and legacy questions.
Additionally, create an intentional spending plan to make sure you are using your income streams in ways that align with your design for true wealth. Especially as wealth grows, it is easy to become disconnected with how your financial decisions are adding to your life satisfaction.
When you know what is real for yourself, you will tune out the noise from the table next to you. You really don't know if that person is truly happy, fulfilled or living a joy-filled life.
About the author: Danielle Howard, Wealth by Design, LLC, is a certified financial planner™, author of Your Financial Revolution - Time to Recognize, Revitalize, and Release Your Financial Power, speaker and financial thought leader.