A shift in mindset
It’s a weird time, of course, but having spoken to many clients and potential clients over the last few weeks, there have been many personal benefits that have manifested from lockdown.
There are the obvious plus points of spending more time with the family, not spending as much money, communicating more frequently with friends and family (via technology) and having more time to exercise.
The negatives, in some instances, have been spending more time with the family (works both ways!), not having enough tailored ‘remote’ workspace, lack of social interaction, no holidays abroad and not being able to visit your favourite pub/restaurant, until recently that is.
Aside from the obvious manifestations, there are more subtle changes taking place too. We have seen a significant number of people approaching 55, the age they can take money from a personal pension, who are thinking differently about the latter stages of their working career.
Lockdown has allowed them to reflect on what’s important; consideration like not wanting to travel or commute, the lack of job security and in many cases, doing jobs that they don’t enjoy. I’ve heard stories of unrealistic employer expectations – one client who is an airline pilot was offered a new contract with 30% less pay and 30% more work! The big change in perspective, has come from the change in work/life balance during lockdown.
There has been a shift in perspective around work/life balance. A survey conducted by Engaging Business found that 66% of employees now want to work from home either permanently or for a couple of days per week.Just 8 % employees wish to return to the workplace full time!
Get your palette out and start painting!
I’m not suggesting that we all become budding artists, but many are seeing the pandemic as a catalyst for change. An opportunity, if you like, to paint the future they want to, instead of painting the pictures others want them to.
I’ve always encouraged people to plan, model various scenarios, evaluate the possibilities for the future and make changes in a way which gives them greater fulfilment. However, I accept for many, change isn’t easy and it’s easy to become anchored in inertia. There is considerable evidence however, if our recent experiences at Blue Sky are anything to go by, that the by-product of the pandemic has made change easier and more palatable for some.
Many have really enjoyed the freedom that the crisis has showed them. A slower and perhaps a less hectic way of life; a life where they are more in control.
One meeting last week led to me having a chat with an existing client who works for a multi-national company. He now realises he doesn’t really want to play their game anymore. To be fair, he was feeling a little jaded with his job before lockdown but kept putting off making any decision about leaving. He gets paid good money and of course, it’s not easy to change one’s way of thinking. Lockdown has proved to be the tipping point for him to take more control of his life.
Great stuff? Well, not without some hesitancy. All was going swimmingly but his wife had reservations. Previously she had seen how he was losing his mojo and was concerned that the job was starting to affect his health and now she appeared reticent about him leaving – partly because of his good earnings but partly because she feels that there would be less opportunities for him following lockdown.
Painting by numbers
Using our financial planning programme, we worked out their number; how much they needed and when to live the life they want. You guessed it, they could do anything they wanted, facilitated by being able to take pension benefits in a just under a year’s time.
They are now in a great position; he feels empowered and she feels relieved. He doesn’t have to hand his resignation in, but he knows that he can at any time, which of course takes much of the stress out of the situation.
We all have our own back stories and unique situations, but it just goes to show how important it is to build your own picture. Life is precious. We must enjoy it.
This latest conversation reinforced to me the importance of having both partners involved in any decision making. With both parties being engaged, any concerns, bottle necks or pre-conceptions can be discussed and alleviated, allowing one to press forward with confidence. If this planning isn’t handled properly, guess what… everything stays the same, nothing gets done and he lack of fulfilment continues. Nothing changes!
Paint your own picture. Create the change you desire.
Gary Neild B.Sc.Hons. DipIP PFA