Life Planning at 56? Um... Why?


Planning and setting goals for your life


A lovely resort in Calabogie in June, craft beer, wine, a family adventure speaker, and life planning.

What? Why the life planning? Well, I was facilitating a retreat for a group of business owners that I run a mastermind group for. Most of the time we focus on business but once a year I take them away for an overnight retreat to focus on themselves as a person. Strategic planning – except for yourself instead of the business.

We focus on assessing where we are in life relative to major areas such as relationships, physical and mental health, business, financial, spiritual, and lifestyle. Kind of like a report card on where we are in each area. We then set intentions for improving the areas that are of importance to us with specific goals for the upcoming year.

I have been a big proponent of life planning for many years. It helps to keep me focused on the important things and to be deliberate about ensuring that I am living my life according to my priorities, not other people’s. It’s very easy to get caught up in someone else’s definition of success rather than our own.

In some ways, I think it is even more important as we approach retirement to be deliberate about how we want to spend our lives. We no longer have the responsibility of raising children, our careers are winding down and (hopefully) we no longer have the financial pressures of mortgages, saving for children’s education, and for retirement. These three things: kids, career, and financial savings took up a lot of focus for most of my adult years. Now, I need to find other things to focus on. I know from experience that “stuff” will show up to fill my time but I want to make sure that what I am spending my time will bring me joy.


Live your life, according to your priorities


Taking the time once a year to think about what our purpose is in retirement is critical to maintaining a reason to jump out of bed each day with excitement. Having goals gives us a focus to the days and weeks. One of my goals is to have more “adventures”, which to me means trying new things (take dance lessons), travel, find my creative side, and do things outside my comfort zone (as in this blog😳). I also want to reduce my workweek to three days a week, spend more time with family located in many different cities, and increase my focus on fitness to doing something active most days.

Much research has been written that suggests that having purpose is a critical component to a successful retirement. Dan Buettners Blue Zones of Happiness lists the top 10 practices to improve your well-being. Included in this list is the importance of setting meaningful goals and of monitoring your progress.

Over the years I have used difference books as a guide to my annual life planning process. This past year I used Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect. In previous years I have used Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s Living Forward, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’s Designing Your Life, and Rich Horwath’s Strategy for You. All have their strengths and weaknesses; however, their value is providing a structured way to ask myself questions about where I am in life and where I want to be. Why I need to read a new book on the topic each year is beyond me - I have been a personal development geek since my late teens.


For the past three years, I have asked John to fill in the life plan from whatever book I happen to be using as my resource. Introspective life planning is not John’s thing. I encourage him to do it for me because I need to “test out” the life planning methodology that I will be using with my clients at the retreat. Being the supportive husband that he is, he reluctantly goes along with it. As we do every year, we then compare notes. As I said, you may find out interesting things about your partner, such as John had noted that he was interested in learning more about speculative investing. Huh? This from the guy who won’t put his money into anything other than GICs? But okay, let’s do it!

If you have a partner, you may want to consider asking your partner to prepare their own life plan as well and then share with each other. You may be surprised by what you find out. It may lead to interesting conversations about what each of you want this stage of life to look like.