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Rethinking Your Plans :: Client Experience :: THE RETIREMENT SOURCE®
Rethinking Your Plans

Lifestyle vs. Quality of Life

The phrase quality of life means different things to different people. The medical and eldercare professions use it to mean one thing while financial services people use it to mean quite another. The World Health Organization defines quality of life as “a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The first point to understand is that lifestyle and quality of life have very different meanings.

Lifestyle has to do primarily with the kind of home you live in, the kind of cars you drive, the clubs you belong to and where you go on vacation. In short, it is tightly intertwined with how you deploy your financial resources. But, we all know that happiness does not necessarily correlate directly with lifestyle. That it is a much broader concept, which I call quality of life. It is the difference between living the “good life” and living life well. To avoid confusion, whenever I use the phrase quality of life in this broader sense, I always italicize it.

Of course lifestyle is a significant part of it, but quality of life is about all those things you enjoy and all those things that are important to you. Many of these have nothing to do with spending money. Quality of life comprises your health, wellness, freedom from stress and a joy of living. It includes many intangibles such as your personal values, feelings of esteem and dignity. These are the qualities beyond any price that make you uniquely you: the people you love, your belief system, the charities you support, your relationships and family traditions.

As you grow older, these are typically the completion concepts that become especially important to you. It is likely that you will want to leave your heirs more than just a residue of money. That is, you may have a desire to share your quality of life by leaving something of yourself and your personal values to show that it did, in fact, make some kind of difference that you once trod this earth.

When we shift our focus to the important personal values embodied in quality of life, the planning process becomes far better because we have an absolute way of gauging success. Thus, when the quality of life issues are understood, the dollar-related issues suddenly become easier to resolve.

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