Monday, August 14, 2017

Start at the Bottom

Down the road from my apartment in Saratoga Springs, NY, a luxury condominium building is being constructed. Over the past several months I've watched construction crews tear down an existing building; large bulldozers clear the land and dig a foundation; and eventually, steel beams and wood framing appeared. Today windows are being installed. 

Last week, as my husband and I walked by the site, I said, "I wonder how builders know where to begin. The project seems so big and confusing." My husband responded, "You start at the bottom."

I think it’s fair so say that my husband knows nothing about home construction, and yet, it seems clear that you have to start at the bottom and then build up.

In some ways, building a retirement is similar to building a condo. It’s big and confusing. So where do we begin? I’m suggesting we start at the bottom and build up. We start with a foundation that’s formulated from our values.

Building the Foundation

If you were starting a new life today, what would you absolutely require? What do you want your life to be based on? What do you value most? Susan David, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, provides these descriptions of values:

·      They are freely chosen and have not been imposed on you.
·      They are not goals; that is, they are ongoing rather than fixed.
·      They guide you rather than constrain you.
·      They are active, not static.
·      They allow you to get closer to the way you want to live your life.
·      They bring you freedom from social comparison.
·      They foster self-acceptance, which is crucial to mental health.

If you’d like to learn more about your values, take a values assessment quiz. There are hundreds to choose from a Google search. Click here for a link to an assessment tool that I find helpful.

Back to the conversation I had with my husband. He missed one very important step when stating you start at the bottom and build up. Contractors don’t dig a big hole, pour concrete, and then sit down with a beer to talk about what type of building will sit on the foundation. Instead, they begin with whiteprints, the technical drawings that capture the architectural design.

This is where building a condo and building a retirement differ. The whiteprint, the architectural plan for our future, is designed from our values. Once these are solid, we can sit down with a cold beer or iced tea and dream about what we want to build on this foundation.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

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