Time in the Batter’s Box

American fans flock to stadiums to witness baseball’s unforgettable… stealing home, an acrobatic threat-ending catch, or other heart stopping play. They are the game’s rarities. Yet fans eagerly watch a sport where the ball is in play an average of 18 minutes in a three hour game. Say it ain’t so, Joe! Ninety percent of game time is spent talking about playing, rather than actually playing? That was the subject of a recent Wall Street Journal article, “In America’s Pastime, Baseball Players Pass A Lot of Time” – idle time between innings, batters, and the worst, time between pitches. An NFL football is slightly worse. In a WSJ survey conducted in 2010, about six percent of game time is spent actively advancing the football. Perhaps a $4 to $8 (gulp) small draft beer sweetens the down time at the park.

Time’s a valuable resource. How can I do more ‘making time,’ rather than ‘spending time’ sitting or standing around? While I’m no poster child for time management, the advice by a sage businessman has been helpful, and I share with you. Hopefully, you expand one or more ideas in your business, or life.

• Maximize shareholder value. Focus on customer satisfaction and reliable, streamlined, and efficient operations. Increased profitability and shareholder value will naturally follow.

• Be more marketable (referable). Build your track record and reputation. Sheepskins are nice wall dressings… apply your training and make lifelong learning a habit.

• Have balance in life. What can you do to squeeze more happiness out of life? Your greatest talent is choice – the career you choose, the projects you take on, and the people in your inner circle. Happiness is contagious (as is her red-headed step-sister).

And how might you make your discussions with your financial advisors be more valuable and relevant to you? Chit-chat is an appropriate courtesy. How about focusing on the things that advance your financial ball or base runners? Absolutely, common discussion points are about saving enough, not running out of money in retirement, what’s “Your Number,” downsizing, exiting your business, when to take Social Security, and planning for the ‘what ifs.’ But what about the emotional issues around retirement?

• Loss of structure and prestige of your career…

• Control…

• What am I going to do now?

• The better mousetrap not quite complete…

• “So long” to your partners, employees and colleagues…

Retirement is one of life’s most challenging transitions. It is a major shift. Consider practicing retirement before the final pitch is thrown. Explore hobbies, community groups, projects and travel that didn’t quite fit on your plate before. Try them out. Spend some of your savings account. You’re likely going to convert your retirement savings into a monthly “pension” (consisting of earnings and principal). These are to help avert the call to your advisor years later, “He’s driving me crazy. Please find something for him to do.” A ballgame only lasts three hours.

About Brian Loy

Brian Loy writes insightful and inspiring articles about the ever-changing world of personal finance and the global trends that affect the risk and return on investments and shape the financial- and retirement-planning process.
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