I have a number of clients who already, at a relatively young age, have what many could argue is ‘enough’ wealth to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. However, ‘enough’ is obviously subjective, as is what is the best thing to do with it – and a significant part of my role is to talk to clients to work through what they feel is enough for them, and to help them determine just what they want to do with what they have achieved. During these discussions I’ve even been asked - ‘What the hell am I still doing here?’.
This is usually a bit tongue-in-cheek, but relates to the issue of trying to determine when is the right time to stop working, and to start living the perceived life of someone in a strong financial position. I love these kind of questions, they make me really think about how my clients view themselves, and how they individually determine success.
I feel I have positive and close relationships with all my clients. One of the reasons they utilise my services is that we can discuss their financial position, their future goals and their fears freely without judgement. These aren’t topics that aren’t always easy to open up about with friends or family for fear of being seen as ungrateful for what they have. I understand that, I’ve found it common in younger clients. Money is still very much a taboo subject in the UK.
The mental aspect of having created wealth at a young age and the responsibility that comes with it is not to be underestimated. Contrary to most advertising messages, happiness isn’t linked to a certain level of income/wealth. Beyond the basic measures of a comfortable place to live and food to eat, happiness is more aligned with purpose and meaning within one’s life.
Back to the ‘Why am I still here?’ question!
My response is to turn the question back to the client - to try to understand where it’s coming from. Often it would seem that many clients still work because they work for pleasure rather than the need to, because they find purpose from getting up in the morning and work is their passion.
These days TV, films, news, social media etc can make us question whether or not we need to make changes to our own life. We can’t remove these influences, but must try to keep in mind that comparison is the killer of contentment! Think about what makes you happy and try not to worry about what your life looks like to other people. Of course, I’m always open to clients making lifestyle changes - it’s what we help them plan for - but I’m keen for people to develop ideas they have over time and for positive reasons.
Snap, reactive decisions are never healthy.
I try to reiterate to my clients that their life is there to be lived and that their options are open - I make them remember what their passions are and what their priorities are. Sometimes I will ask a client to look abstractly at their life and tell me what success looks like at 40/45/50 years old. When they can picture that, we can work towards their goals – rather than goals imposed by society.
There is no need to live up to what other people perceive is the ‘best’ thing to do. As long as people are true to themselves and life the they want to live, what else matters?
People who don’t appreciate what they have will never be satisfied as there will never be enough.
For client’s that ask, ‘What the hell am I still doing here?’, we will continue to periodically sense-check that they are on the path to achieving their goals - because questioning yourself is constructive, then to re-enforce your answers with someone you trust is just plain sensible.