YOUR NEW LIFE GOALS? TAKE THE 16-FOOT CEILING TEST.
What are your post-corporate life goals and desires? From a financial perspective, what do you really need to make ends meet, as you transition to life as an Ex-Exec? Take the 16-Foot Ceiling Test and discover the new you.
THE NEW WAY TO EVALUATE YOUR PERSONAL BALANCE SHEET?
The 16-Foot Ceiling Test is a meditative, self-evaluation exercise that I accidentally created while pondering my future. It’s designed to jolt your senses and help you evaluate your assets, wants, and needs with wider eyes. Time and again, it has played a significant role in my decision-making. Just as revealing, many who I’ve recommended the test to, have embraced the exercise. Try it!
DISCOVER THE POWER OF SELF-REFLECTION…
One Texas hot Sunday afternoon, about a year into my tenure as an Ex-Exec, I was in my daughter’s room tidying up (no easy task cleaning a 12-year-old’s mess). Even by Texas standards, the room was large, but I hadn’t realized its cubic volume until that very day. Beer in hand and sweat pouring down my forehead, I needed a moment to relax. Lying on her bed, I looked up at the fan perched high on the 16-foot ceiling. In a matter of seconds, I was transfixed on the pirouetting fan, the slow hum of its movements and the cool, soothing air that it transmitted. I became mesmerized and tranquilized, and in a dreamlike state, started to notice things about the ceiling that had never caught my eye before. In the process, I became more aware of who I was at that time of my life.
YOUR LIFE GOALS: EXPERIENCE POWERFUL NEW PERSPECTIVES.
I futilely tried to count the number of fan’s rotations per minute. Giving up, I looked beyond the fan, and realized, for the first time, how high and ornate the ceiling was. It featured three levels, each one encompassing the other, with a simple design leading to the top.
The wheels of my brain were now in sync with the fan, and I was lost in big thought. I wondered; How many thousands of hours of work had I invested for a home with ornate ceilings? How many critical and joyous moments of my children’s lives did I miss, forever? Did I really need double-digit high ceilings to make me happy?
YOUR PRE-RETIREMENT LIFE GOALS LIST?
The “wasting life on meaningless ceiling air” concept continued to grow. How many thousands of dollars of air conditioning were wasted keeping these plaster ceilings cool and happy? What if I had taken all that money and invested it more wisely into unforgettable family trips?
This perspective grew to the entire house and my not-so-sacred possessions. How many other things in my golf course behemoth were worth treasuring? Can you relate?
I walked around the house. My two dogs were chasing each other—yes they were worth it. Saw my kids in the pool. Well, I guess the pool was worth it. Saw my wife in the kitchen; she wasn’t worth it. Aha! I already knew that, but mistakenly wasn’t ready to deal with her until my kids were in college. Yes, a critical mistake that I will discuss in future posts.
Moving from a corporate executive to an Ex-Exec changes one’s view of many things. Examining and comparing your current and former values can be both very hard and very cathartic. Separating what you want and what you need today could very well be one of the best exercises of your life.
I’ve shared the 16-Foot Ceiling Test concept with many other executives. Most commiserated. Others laughed and blew the idea to smithereens, as they honestly enjoyed the jewels of their hard work. Since the birth of the 16-Foot Ceiling Exercise, I look at material possessions with much brighter eyes. I invite you to do the same.
TIME TO DOWNSIZE?
Take the 16-Foot Ceiling test ASAP. Sit under a fan, take a scavenger hunt through your home, and take stock of your current possessions and expenses. Think about what you wish you had at this very moment compared to what you valued during your corporate days. Are your values in line with who you are today? Have they changed?
Look around your house and evaluate if life beyond corporate demands the same high-life trappings. Perhaps it does. Maybe it doesn’t. At this new stage of life, it’s worth pondering what possessions are meaningful and which ones are gratuitous. How much or how little do you need to be happy? How much can you truly afford if you no longer have a steady six-figure income? What’s the real cost of purchasing something significant? Will you have to work overtime to pay for it? Will the enjoyment last a minute or many moons?
Write down your perspectives. If your gut and research reveal that your new life requires a thorough examination of your material goods —including, perhaps, an exploration into downsizing— embrace that feeling and take action if need be, ASAP.
But, be very cautious with your action steps because family financial discussions can be highly volatile and emotional.
PRE-RETIREMENT PLANNING: ARE FAMILY’S VALUES ALIGNED WITH YOURS?
Before you discuss finances with your family, think about how they will be affected and react. Will your new point-of-view align with your spouse/children’s view of “your new family’s lifestyle”?
Be cautious and honest with yourself. If thinking about your family’s responses delivers a knot in your stomach, seek advice from a confident, your accountant or a therapist before you engage in a family discussion. Rest assured; it’s in your best interests to be prepared by doing your homework, creating a plan and presenting it in a businesslike, upbeat manner that will win your family over and create an exciting journey for all.
Obviously, this is a two-step process. Your spouse/significant other must come first. Once you are in agreement, a family discussion should follow. How changes are presented to your children must be a collective effort.
CREATING YOUR FAMILY’S BUDGET-PLANNING JOURNEY
If life changes are required, your approach and plan will determine how your new “home-sweet-home” concept is embraced by all. Getting everyone’s input and buy-in and approaching it as a real adventure will dramatically enhance your chances of success. Like any big challenge in life, enjoying the journey is the first step to happiness.
Your thoughts and experiences? Please share.
All the best,