Todd is the CEO of Sixt straight and sound, He is a successful and experienced leader of financial services teams.
Have you ever heard the saying “dig your well before you get thirsty”? You may have even used this statement yourself when advising clients not to wait too long to build their financial nest egg. But have you ever thought about this in terms of building a social network that you will enjoy and rely on once you exit the financial services industry?
As financial advisors, we know how difficult it is to build authentic relationships with clients. It takes time, repeated conversations and a willingness to engage in the kinds of mutual exchanges that build trust and intimacy. Relationship building, whether with co-workers or customers, takes so much time and energy.
This is why you don’t want to wait until the industry is out of whack to build authentic relationships with people outside of work. If you wait too long, you may find yourself too thirsty to socialize. This can have negative effects on your relationships with your spouse, children, and even grandchildren. More than anything, it can have a negative impact on quality of life.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of mentoring many mature advisors coming out of the industry. One thing I’ve learned is that consultants often vastly underestimate how different life will be after you exit the industry. I’ve heard two overriding feelings from retired colleagues who weren’t prepared for what came after their working years: loneliness and boredom.
The sad part of this is that these people worked incredibly hard for many years to put themselves in a strong enough financial position to be happy. While money worried almost none of them, happiness was far from them. Psychologists will tell us that real happiness in life is found in relationships with other people.
I believe the biggest mistake you can make is to assume that if you have enough money, you will automatically be happy in the next phase of your life. This is not true for most people I know.
some questions to ponder
To help you prepare for one of the biggest changes in your life, I’d like to ask you some questions.
• Besides family members, who do you interact with on a daily basis? If you’re like many people I’ve coached, I’ll bet it’s mostly clients and work associates. To help you get clarity on this question, I would like to recommend a small exercise that can make it concrete for you. Consider who you interact with in a typical week. Make a list with the names of these people. Then categorize them into three groups: work, family, and other. If your social network is like most people I’ve coached, more than 80% of your weekly interactions will come from work-based relationships.
• What happens when these work-based relationships end or are limited to a few interactions per year? How big is that social hole in your life? Here’s the ironic part of it. Many people underestimate how big, small conversations can make a difference in our lives over time. For example, a retired co-worker of mine once told me how strange it was that he missed the food service workers at work. For more than a decade, my colleague had seen the same smiling faces in the company cafeteria.
While my colleagues didn’t know any of them well, they had shared many moments with them over time: stories from their child’s birthdays, vacations, and even vacation photos. After a family member passed away, the food service staff provided the family with several delicious meals for free. Without realizing it, they formed social bonds with these staff members through short conversations, each lasting only a few moments. This gave him a lot of comfort over time.
• After exiting the industry, apart from family members, who will you be spending time with in order to bridge the social void that worked earlier? Do you have any plan for this? Are you taking steps now to build relationships with these people? Given that it sometimes takes years to form strong social bonds, is it wise to wait until after you move out to begin that process? Could that be leaving you socially thirsty?
Some things to look for in the new social network
• common interests. There are literally thousands of social networks already in existence based on common interests. This can include topics such as golf, wine, classic movies, types of cars (muscle, racers, vintage), military history, aviation, sports teams, and the list goes on. If you share a common interest with other people, it should be easy to connect with them.
• Established network with many people. The best social networks are already established, have a regular cadence of activities, and include many people. The more people there are in a network, especially a local one, the more likely you are to hit it off with at least a few people.
• physical activity. If you enjoy some physical activity, finding networks that include that activity can help you stay healthy. I enjoy golf. I have a friend who enjoys softball. In Northern California where I live, there are a fair number of nature and hiking groups that go on regular excursions.
• An opportunity to add to your legacy. I know many people who have built strong social bonds by giving back. Some have joined the advisory boards of the nonprofits they support. Others read books to children at their local library. Still others teach English as a second language to first-generation immigrants. There are many ways to give back to others that can enrich your life as well. These social connections can be really meaningful to you and contribute to the legacy of good work you’ve already done.
If you use the criteria above to start building a new social network now, I believe your eventual exit from the industry will probably go more smoothly. It can also help you maintain more balanced relationships with family members. The happiness that eludes so many may be waiting for you.
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