For many physicians, retirement revolves around a number – either net worth, retirement account, sale of a practice or a buyout of their shares by partners. Don’t get me wrong, these numbers are important. Unfortunately focusing too much on these numbers can create an unhealthy relationship between you and your money.
Money and time are two sides of the same coin. Money is certainly more tangible than time. It is frequently an appreciating asset. Time is always a wasting asset. By focusing exclusively on the number and not how you will spend the time you are buying with it can lead to the accumulation of more money being the goal.
Another problem with a “numbers only” approach to retirement planning is that it can leave little time to consider how you can best use money to achieve your goals. Let’s face it, the more you work, the less free time you have to explore your interests or scout out locations that you may love to spend more time at.
In order to have a positive alignment between your money and your goals, the discussion needs to be shifted from “How much money do I need?” to “Is your money being managed in a way that improves your life?” As we mentioned earlier, it’s a lot easier to pull up an app listing your investment portfolio and account performance than it is to carefully consider how money can be redirected to improve your quality of life.
Software can easily take care of the numbers – an advisor, however, can take the numbers and help to match them with your sense of purpose and intention. The fundamental flaw with traditional retirement planning, and for that matter retirement calculators, is that the means (accumulation of assets) can easily become the end. In order to protect yourself from a singular focus on money, reflect on your goals once or twice a year. Keeping them at the forefront will help to ensure that your money remains a tool, not a goal.