I began working with a high-powered executive a few weeks ago, and the process has been as fun as it has been enlightening.
This gentleman is in his mid-50s and works as the CEO for one of America’s most prestigious companies. When he explained his travel schedule to me, I literally gasped: he spends more time in the air flying to different company locations each week, than he spends on the ground. He has made numerous appearances on national television and regularly speaks at live events to audiences of thousands.
He is clearly a high energy, uber talented, and charismatic figure. Focused, clear, and kind, he approached me to be his real estate sherpa for his search for the perfect second home to enjoy during his upcoming retirement.
When we sat down for our initial conversation, I was struck by how little ability this powerhouse of a person had in conveying his vision for his retirement real estate fantasy. He was eager to just “get going,” but unable to provide me with any guidance as to where – or even, a broad brush outline of roughly where. I gently pressed with more clarifying questions, inquiring how he pictured himself spending his days in our community and enjoying his property here.
He gave me a cheerful grin and a blank stare.
And then, it dawned on me – this incredibly bright and talented fellow, who had spent the majority of his life successfully steering a gigantic company through myriad market conditions, quite literally had never stopped to get clear on steering his own life – or imagining his own future beyond work.
I was immediately reminded of something Seth Godin, New York Times best selling author and marketing guru once said, “People spend more time planning their vacations than they spend planning their lives.”
When I began selling real estate 14 years ago, the average age of my buyers was approximately 63 years old. These were folks who were eyeing retirement and wanted to purchase a second home to enjoy in the mountains once they departed from the work force. Today, the average age of my buyers is approximately 53 years old; they are not only younger, they are retiring at younger and younger ages.
Many arrive seemingly unprepared for life after work and/or how they would like to enjoy their free time once they finally have it.
I stood out on the deck of a gorgeous, luxury home with my charismatic, cheerful buyer and looked out at a stunning mountain view with him. He was impressed with the custom home and the view.
But clearly, something was missing, and whatever the “it” factor was for him eluded him.
I watched him peer over the deck to the steep slope below and could sense him being a bit antsy. He paced a minute or two, with restless energy. Hands in pockets, looking around, he exhaled sharply.
Immediately, I knew. I told him, “I know what you want, and I’ll take you there now.”
We drove to the property that I had intuited was what his heart was aching for. I pulled into the driveway, and had not even come to a stop before he had the door open and was out of the car. He ran across the lot and down to the water.
I stood behind him and looked up at his profile. I saw a man who in that moment knew exactly how he wanted to spend his retirement. He knew what would fill the well for him, what would make his soul sing.
He nodded toward the water and then at me and said, “Yes, this is it.”
As you are envisioning life after work, or simply your playtime during weekends or vacations from work, ask yourself what feels like freedom. What are you doing that brings your energy up and is also relaxing? What does your ideal day look like? Think through what retirement days may mean for you and what kind of property best suits that vision.
Spend some time now planning your life, so that your enjoyment, after many years of hard work, is at is highest and best.