At University I studied business with a particular interest in entrepreneurs. I loved to hear their stories – the journey they followed to create their business empires. One comment I heard frequently was that these people already knew the business results long before the accountants had finished adding up the numbers. Asked how and the answer was invariably something unusual – sales in a particular store, feedback from suppliers – these people were so close to the action they ‘just knew’.
As we all adjust to living longer EML identified six aspects of life that together contribute to success in later life. Being aware of them is the first step, but the secret to success is being able to balance them over time and this brings us to measurement.
At the moment we are reviewing and assessing a growing range of ‘tools’ that may offer help. In all areas there are now devices that provide feedback – smart watches that track your activity, smart scales that analyse your body make up, apps that track your investments and diaries that manage your time. However the more I look at these the more I think of those entrepreneurs – their accountants and auditors didn’t tell them about their business, they were the score keepers.
In a similar way the devices we are testing are score keepers. If your weight or heart rate, diary or bank balance is where you want it to be, they add little value – just confirmation. However, if you are looking to make a change their feedback offers insight on progress towards your target. In addition, clients tell me the raised awareness they bring is also a motivator. For example, the Fitbit adds 20 paces to your daily walking target and enthusiasts tell me they will go out for an evening walk just to reach their target!
Awareness, it seems, is all important. This was brought home to me recently by two clients, both thought they had a tight rein on their finances. One, a stock market investor, believed her fortunes had declined with a fall in the markets. When we looked at the detail it transpired that only 10% of her wealth was invested in the market. The other, more cautious, chased interest income. His investments were so widely spread he failed to realize the total would fund a comfortable nursing home for at least 30 years.
Learning to make the most of later life does not have to be difficult. Some will see the benefit of spending time and money on an array of health monitors. Others, however, will get all the feedback they need from just a slight struggle to do up their belt!