Do you work to live or live to work?
In our own household, it has been known for one or the other of us to sneak off in the evening, iPad or laptop in hand to just do some ‘catching up’. This is far more likely to be Mr B, as I am more frequently to be found in what my sons have christened ‘The Snoring Chair’ (rude!). Over the years I have spent working with clients, it seems to have been becoming an increasing problem for us all to establish a sensible cut-off point between our day’s work and relaxation time.
The reason I see so much of this is that many of our clients are what are know as ‘small and medium sized enterprises’ – owned and run by one or two people or sometimes a family. Everyone’s work is important, but to many of these small businesses, it is crucial. Their ability to work effectively and to undertake as much paid work as possible is what keeps the roof over their heads and the food in their families’ mouths.
Now, I understand this – after all, we are just such a business ourselves. However, as I get a little …er… more mature, I realise that in order to earn sufficiently and to be able to spend time with our families and friends, we really do have to prioritise. As a parent, I know how important it has been to me to be able to spend time with the children, ensuring they feel important and loved. As a daughter, I also knew the disappointment when parents missed crucial school performances and special events because they were working.
Now, for me the starting point is, what do we want from life? If it’s speed boats, fast cars and assorted gin palaces, it is unlikely (unless we have the inventiveness of a Sir James Dyson or the innate entrepreneurial ability of a Sir Richard Branson) that we will achieve this via our working lives. After that, what are our needs and requirements? A home, food and clothing, money available to pay our dues without anxiety and time and money for leisure pursuits?
Take time to work this out with your nearest and dearest. What is the minimum income you can manage on, and what do you need for the luxuries and for the pension, or ‘future income’ as it is now being termed? If you need help, you can chat to a financial adviser (a good independent will charge for their time, but that can be well worth it). You can chat through plans or thoughts with your accountant or there will be, I am sure, financial planning websites that are available, but I am not qualified to recommend which is best.
It’s lovely to aim for the stars in business, and most of us will be secretly imagining the day when we can retire as millionaires. Let me assure you, not all millionaires are living happy lives, and a number have not achieved their wealth without there being some blood on the carpet. Better, perhaps, to imagine a life well lived. A balance achieved between earning and spending and a happy, fulfilled life filled with family, friends and positive experiences.