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Embracing Holistic Personal Future Planning

For better or for worse, people tend to focus on their financial position and material goods when planning for their future – “I want to have $x in the bank by the time I’m 45”; “I want three investment properties on the go before I retire”; “If I’m not earning six-figures in the next five years, something’s wrong”.

Sound familiar? So much of the information and “advice” around saving for retirement, and planning for your future in general, tends to focus on money. What is often neglected, however, are the other important aspects of our wellbeing that require attention in order to reach our goals. While financial health is a critical part of future personal planning, taking a holistic approach by including your social, mental, and physical health is the key to realising your aspirations in retirement – no matter how far away that might be.

Holistic Future Planning – Financial Health

We’ll start here as it is the first port of call for many people (as outlined above). When it comes to planning for your future in a financial sense, there are two important question that needs to be answered. Number one – how much money do I need to live the life I want when I retire? And number two – how do I bridge the gap to get there in time?

Addressing the first question – the exact figure for the amount one needs to be able to retire varies from person to person. That said, The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) outlines the minimum annual cost of a comfortable retirement for most Australians. The standard is a reliable guide for how much the average single person or couple spends in a typical year post-retirement and is a handy resource for your own holistic future planning journey (view the standard here).

Once you have an idea of how much you’ll need, then you can determine whether you’ll realistically achieve it on your current trajectory – don’t feel bad if you aren’t quite on track, as recognising this early leaves you plenty of time to address any shortcomings. McKinley Plowman’s Life Plan tool has been specifically designed to show how you’re tracking against your broader financial and life goals and assists in developing a practical action plan to bridge the gap. Your initial report is free – visit the McKinley Plowman Life Plan page to get started.

Holistic Future Planning – Social Health

Now we’ll move across to the aspects of future planning that are often neglected but should be included in a holistic approach. The relationships we form over our life can often originate through the work we do, but they can also be the first to feel the strain of too much time at the office or on the tools.

It’s worth remembering that once you get to a point in your life when you can afford to stop working, this is the time you’ll be more available to socialise and do the things you really love – to that end, planning for your future in a holistic manner should include a concerted effort to form and maintain good social relationships before retirement. This can include making time to catch up with friends (and sticking to it); joining a local sports club; or engaging in volunteer work. Not only are these things rewarding, they’ll put you in a good position to make the most of your eventual retirement with the people you enjoy spending time with.

Holistic Future Planning – Mental Health

Related closely to social health is mental health. Having a good support network around you throughout your life is critical, however taking this into account when planning for the future isn’t all that common. In the grind of working hard to create wealth, looking after your mental health might take a back seat – when you’re working out where you want to be in the next 10, 20, 30 or more years, don’t discount the role that your mental health plays in getting you there.

The Black Dog Institute outlines five “ways to wellbeing”, the building blocks of positive mental health and crucial in your holistic future planning. These five factors, when nurtured and enhanced, contribute to maximising mental wellbeing:

  1. Positive Emotion – taking responsibility for our feelings, cultivating happiness & gratitude
  2. Engagement – being absorbed and connected to the activities we undertake
  3. Relationships – connections to other people and relationships
  4. Meaning – being part of, and working towards, something bigger than yourself
  5. Accomplishment – pursuing success, achievement, and mastery

By making a concerted effort to address each of these factors, over the long term, it stands to reason that you’re more likely to achieve the goals you set for yourself. So, when planning for your future, be sure to account for the steps required to proactively look after your mental health.

Holistic Future Planning – Physical Health

It’s no secret that physical health and mental health are interdependent – generally when one is good, so is the other. As we navigate careers and life in general, many of us are striving to earn more, do more and own more – but how many of us make a real effort to move more?

Too often, people work really hard at their jobs to the detriment of their mental, physical, and social health and suffer the consequences. Visions of a CEO dropping dead of a heart attack at 50 – a grim image (and perhaps slightly exaggerated), but one worth thinking about. Simple measures like 30 minutes of exercise and eating a balanced diet can not only improve your health and extend your life, but may improve your performance at work as well – the best of both worlds!

Looking Ahead

Hopefully this is an indication that when you’re planning your future, taking a holistic approach is crucial. Enjoying what you love, particularly in retirement, involves taking steps early and being mindful of every aspect of wellbeing – physical, mental, social, and financial. When you manage to strike the right balance and avoid overlooking any of the above, you’ll have laid the foundations for a retirement filled with everything you’ve dreamed of.

How MP+ Can Help

McKinley Plowman’s Retirement Planning service has helped many clients identify what they want to achieve and develop a practical and effective strategy to help them get there. It’s never too early to start planning, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today on 08 9301 2200 (Joondalup), 08 9361 3300 (Victoria Park), or via our website.


General advice warning: The advice provided is general advice only as, in preparing it we did not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Before making an investment decision on the basis of this advice, you should consider how appropriate the advice is to your particular investment needs, and objectives. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision relating to a financial product.

written by:

Aaron has over twenty years of experience in the financial services industry working with large companies and small businesses across all aspects of financial planning. He has broad experience across superannuation (including self-managed superannuation), investments, estate planning and personal insurance, retirement planning and business succession planning.
Aaron is passionate about the value of professional, client-focused advice and enjoys working closely with clients to help them make smart decisions with their money, as well as aiding them to clarify and achieve their financial aspirations.

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