Your Purpose - Charlie Reading

Your Purpose

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During your working life, you usually have a fairly clear purpose, because this is often linked to your day-to-day role. It may be that you weren’t lucky enough to make a living from your purpose, so that is what you do in your free time. It may be that your purpose is to make sufficient money to keep a roof over you and your family’s heads. Whatever it is, you probably have a defined purpose to work for and that may or may not be linked to your ultimate purpose.

If you are lucky enough to do a job that is linked to your purpose, there is a fair chance you love it—and as they say, ‘if you love your job, you’ll never do a day’s work in your life.’ When you move into your retirement years, there are a number of challenges you will face, because for many people, their main reason to get out of bed in the morning is gone. For some that might mean finding an amazing new purpose, but for others this transition might be a fate worse than death and pose a tremendous psychological hurdle.

Accumulation Versus De-Accumulation

Your financial planning for retirement can also pose psychological hurdles. People spend their working life trying to accumulate enough money so that they can stop. Particularly for those that have spent their working life as an employee rather than a business owner, they have come to be very reliant on a fixed and regular salary. For most people, this security far outweighs the opportunities of setting up their own business, because they cannot envisage or afford not having that income.

I have almost always been self-employed, which puts me in the minority. As a farmer’s son, perhaps the ‘you reap what you sow’ mentality has always been there. When I was a teenager, I was a fairly lazy kid who was into heavy metal. Metallica released a box set when I was 16, and I decided I must have it. It contained multiple CDs and videos of live performances, as well as some previously unreleased material that seemed incredibly important to me at the time. They were only releasing a limited number of the set (it was going for around £100, as I recall), which only increased my desire to own it.

I asked my Dad if he would buy it for me and unsurprisingly, he was less than enthusiastic about the price. He didn’t, however, say no. What he said to me was something that I have often thought back on and am sure helped nurture my entrepreneurial mindset. What he said was, ‘I will buy this for you, if you spend the weekend digging the vegetable garden.’

Spending my whole weekend sweating buckets and digging a massive vegetable garden would have made for a great end to the story. However, being a lazy teenager, I opted not to. All of a sudden, I could do without my much-desired Metallica box set. Whether I did the work or not, it still taught me a valuable lesson. You reap what you sow … pun intended! That time, I didn’t reap, because I didn’t sow, but in business you realise that you reap the rewards of what you do more directly. You of course do so less directly when you are employed. Your employer smoothens outs your successes and pays you gradually for them. If you deliver no successes, you get fired and the money still dries up, but ‘reaping’ and ‘sowing’ are still less directly linked.

Retirement is more like running your own business. You can annuitise your money and remain dependent on a fixed income for life, or you can reap what you sow and live a more flexible and dynamic existence.

It is this transition that creates a significant psychological barrier for many people. They go from working to accumulate money, to having to live off what they have accumulated: From the ‘Accumulation Stage’ of their life to the ‘De-accumulation Stage’ of their life. This causes people a lot of grief.

There are two ways to get over this barrier in retirement: The first is to better understand how your money will work for you in retirement. This is best done through the Lifetime Cash Flow Forecast, so that you can model your financial future. This clarity and understanding allow you to see how the future will pan out and give you the reassurance that your money can facilitate the future you desire. You’ll realise that you have been successful and efficient enough to get yourself into a position in life where you can afford to stop work. You should celebrate this, not be upset by it. The fact that others around you have not achieved that yet is not a reason for you to be yourself down about it.

Many of them will be gutted that they haven’t been able to achieve the same yet. They may even say that retirement would bore them and that they wouldn’t want to stop. If they do, you will now be able to understand that they fall into one of two categories. Firstly, they are working on their purpose, and are hopefully then starting to perform ‘The Retirement Trick’. Secondly, and sadly more likely, they have not yet reached ‘Financial Freedom’ themselves, so they don’t have the choice that you have.

The beauty of this new life is that you can stop doing what people tell you to do, and do what you want to do. Your identity is not linked to your job, but you do need to find your true identity, and which is linked to your purpose.

So the second step is to redefine your purpose. In doing so, you will have a clearer understanding of what you are on this Earth to do, and by doing that you will be able to lead a life full of reward and success.


Getting older might make you feel like you are slowing down. Do not be fooled into thinking this is cognitive decline, you have so much information in your brain that it takes more time to access it! You can be stronger and happier in your retirement than ever before. Life is an adventure, you can expect change and embrace it. Learn the right time to retire, how to boost your retirement income and create your dream retirement. Follow your dreams and love what you do!

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