Dave Deruytter looks into what drives our quest for sustainable happiness with the 6 cornerstones of life planning.
Can you really plan for the future, for the unknown in your life? Is it not better to seize the day, to live day by day? A good and reasonable life planning should allow you to seize more days and live longer. In literature, life planning has sometimes four key aspects, sometimes more. The order of the key elements of life planning are not always the same. Still, most observers agree that health is number one and money is the least important factor of life planning. We look at the following six cornerstones of life planning: health, family and friends, work, hobby, projects and money, in that order.
With careers becoming longer, with pension age increasing around the globe, life planning has received renewed attention. Indeed, the youngsters born today may have to plan for a 100-year life. Adults have to work seven years longer than was the standard in Belgium 10 years ago, before being allowed to retire. Many scholars agree that the real ageing of a person starts after retirement if one does not properly structure one’s life, to always stay physically and intellectually active.
Let’s dig a little deeper into these six cornerstones of life planning. ‘Health’ is a pretty obvious number 1. Healthy eating, drinking and sleeping. Healthy activities and an interesting intellectual occupation. At the age of 40 I decided to start making regular walks and hikes to improve and maintain my physical health. I also took the initiative to begin writing in order to escape from the daily work routine and its challenges. It takes effort to stick to your resolutions. But, if you do, the results are very rewarding.
‘Family and friends’ is an obvious number two. Loneliness, particularly among the elderly, is a new disease in our society. It is such a great thing to be with others, relatives, friends, relations, even pets play their role. OK, if you work longer, you may not be there in person as much as you would like when your parents need help coping with life’s challenges at an older age or when your children need assistance with childcare for your grandchildren. But, since you will be earning money longer, you can use part of that to share their extra financial burdens.
‘Work’ is at number three because, with sleep, it takes up most of the time in our lives. It is very important to keep a good work-life balance. Because the effective retirement age is seven years later now in Belgium, you can still move closer to your place of work at a later age and you can still change jobs. Furthermore, in your later years at work, chances are high that your mortgage will be paid off and your children are out of the house, leaving you with €1,000 or more with fewer expenses, allowing you to work 80% instead of 100% and to go after your dreams one day per week or turn your hobby into a secondary occupation.