I’ve got an uncharacteristically short post today.
A few thoughts on the 3-legged stool.
It’s a metaphor we’ve all heard many times.
For example, I recall in my working days when we were working on large capital projects. Our engineer would frequently use the 3-legged stool argument. The legs he would cite? Cost – Quality – Time. If we asked for it sooner, he’d respond “You’re breaking one of the legs!” As in…
- “You can have it faster, but it will cost more”
- “You can have it cheaper, but you’ll get lower quality”
It turns out there’s also a great 3-legged stool metaphor for retirement.
The legs (and, more importantly, the implications for your retirement)?
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The 3-Legged Stool of Retirement
Retirement is a game of tradeoffs.
If you work longer than you need to, you risk losing your health before you’re able to do the things you want to do.
If you retire too early, you risk running out of money before you die.
Finding the right balance is the key, and a helpful metaphor to think about those tradeoffs is the 3-legged stool. For retirement, I think of those three legs as:
We will all lose our health and time. You can’t get out of here alive.
Therefore, I’ll be controversial and state my belief that Money is the least important of the three. Of course money matters, but chances are it will be the last remaining leg on your stool. You’ll lose the other legs first.
Recognize the value of Health and Time.
Unlike money, they are the real sand in your hourglass, and they’ll be gone before you know it.
- Do what you want to do while you’re still able to do it.
- Evaluate if “One More Year” of work is the best use of your limited remaining time.
- Do all you can do to invest in your Health.
- Prioritize your Time to avoid future regrets.
- Pause to be thankful for the legs on your stool.
We all focus on the money side of retirement.
Perhaps it’s time to focus as much, or more, on the two other legs.
Health and Time.
Just like money, both health and time can be optimized by thoughtful investment. If you’re not exercising, start now. If you’re wasting your time doing things that don’t matter, rethink your priorities.
Ultimately, health and time are the scarcest resources in our lives.
It’s a shame more of us don’t act accordingly.
Focus on reinforcing all 3 legs of your stool.
While you still have time.