If we are lucky, getting older is a fact of life. Aging is usually accompanied by obvious signs of change. We may look quite a bit different in the mirror than we did 25 years ago. For some, time has been relatively kind; for others, not so much. As we all age we will notice more aches and pains. One of the more difficult changes to cope with can be a change in our priorities.
Over time, certain things become more important to us, and conversely, some priorities may seem less urgent. The readjustment of priorities can be a particularly perplexing time in a person’s life, especially when it conflicts with habits developed over a lifetime. For example, most people’s lives have been spent in what we refer to as the accumulation phase. Over the course of time they are building up a nest egg with the intention of converting it to income at retirement. During the accumulation phase, we can develop strong habits of saving and price comparison shopping.
Trouble can be afoot when there is a collision between changing priorities; for example, wanting to spend less time at work, and an ingrained habit of living off a paycheck and never touching your portfolio to cover expenses. We also see instances where a sense of thrift that served someone well in their earlier years has become a stumbling block to really enjoying life during retirement. Another example is a person who has already accumulated significant financial assets, but just can’t seem to kick the habit of viewing everything they do as an opportunity to make another buck.
If you don’t quite buy into our thesis of changing priorities, try cleaning out your basement or garage in anticipation of a move. You will quickly see that most of the items that you may have viewed as treasures were important at a point in time, but that time may have certainly passed. Becoming aware of the potential conflict between your present-day priorities and the habits you have formed over a lifetime can help you make intelligent decisions about the things that are really important to you today.