How Long To Work? How Much To Earn? This is a Solo's Real Choice.

This post came to me after I played Northwestern Mutual’s Longevity Game. When you work for another, your longevity at a job is at the whim of that ‘other.’ In a day and age when:

  • social security is obviously very iffy,
  • real estate no longer suggested as a vehicle to fund retirement,
  • personal savings rate is the lowest since before the great depression,
  • pensions are subject to corporate dishonesty and in this economy being revamped in the employer’s favor,
  • jobs are being eliminated as corporations (and law firms) go overseas in their quest for global domination (not to mention the 10,000 law jobs eliminated in 2009 alone)

we have to think about how long we are going to be gracing this still green earth and how productive we want to be while we are here. Equally important, how long we work is often one of the truest choices of the solo practitioner, entrepreneur. We determine our time table for retirement or not; we determine our professional, emotional, social and financial ‘wealth’ in this lifetime.

I’ve recently consulted women who are just embarking on solo practitioner entrepreneurship who have hit the ‘new thirty,’ (what we have traditionally called ‘fifty.’) One just got her J.D. They are intellectually vibrant, stimulating active women who see an open world of business opportunity as their own boss. They are being challenged with determining how long they want to work while just starting their new solo practice or business. They are being challenged with life-style considerations, being sole providers for themselves and calculating the economic landscape of their future and actually, wonderfully, thinking in terms of working the next twenty to thirty years. Their mindset is ‘professionally I am thirty. Therefore, I have to project out another thirty – forty years.’ That may seem folly to some, but is it really? Not one consultation even mentioned traditional retirement in the next fifteen years at the tender age of sixty-five.

Other women I know have mapped out working in some incarnation for the rest of their lives…by choice. It goes to show you how far our society has come when thinking about retirement, how women think about their obligation to provide for themselves, and the latest twist on the ‘golden years.’

So, playing this longevity game can be interesting as it gives you the all important insight into the game insurance companies have been playing. Although clearly not individualized for you and your unique circumstances it gives some interesting information.

If you are theoretically going to be living into your nineties, how far out would you calculate your good ‘working years?” How long do you want to enjoy and profit from your career? Because we are living longer and life is considerably more expensive, how far out should you be planning when determining the future of your business?

Your financial and professional life and health are up to you. This remains, in my opinion, the ultimate choice when one becomes a solo practitioner. How long to work, how much to earn.

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