What is a “Successful” Retirement?
“The happiest people I have worked with are not necessarily those who retire the wealthiest. They’re the ones who have a giving spirit infused in their family culture.”
~ Jeff Bradshaw, Financial Advisor & Ten Talents Board Member
Agriculture, Wall Street, & Entrepreneurship: Jeff’s Story
After moving from the Midwest to the Central Valley in his late twenties, Jeff Bradshaw developed a deep relationship with the California farming and agri-business community. He worked for companies including Monsanto, John Deere, and Netafim Irrigation, and in 2000, Jeff began his financial career at a Wall Street firm.
At this firm, Jeff quickly realized promoting commissioned products did not always best serve the client and align with his personal values. This experience led him to start his own company, Sierra Pacific Financial Services, Inc.
“Outperform the competition.” “Surpass last year’s revenue.” “Double the client base.”
These are metrics of success Jeff became very familiar with.
Yet, when a person approaches retirement or is confronted with the legacy they want to leave their family and community, defining “success” can feel more abstract and elusive. Because of this, many people don’t think about it at all. “There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing people depart this world with little to show for their efforts and no lasting legacy,” says Jeff.
Jeff Bradshaw, Financial Advisor & Ten Talents Board Member
So, what is a “successful” retirement?
“Retirement is a term created in the West,” says Jeff, “but it isn’t a Biblical concept. While a person’s season may change as they age, their life’s focus does not need to shift from giving to taking.”
“[When thinking about retirement], ’how much money have you saved?’ is not the question at all,” says Jeff.
“Instead, it is, ‘What quality of life do you want to lead?’ and how can I best use my time, skills, and experiences to help others in this next season of my life?'” It’s important to think about how you’re investing your money and how you’ll pay for important expenses later in life.
However, as Jeff defines a “successful” retirement, he also factors in a person’s relationships, physical, spiritual, and mental life. “One important element of a [vibrant retirement] is one [marked by generosity].”
“Retirement is a term created in the West, but it isn’t a Biblical concept. While a person’s season may change as they age, their life’s focus does not need to shift from giving to taking.”
~ Jeff Bradshaw
I’m far from retirement, but how can I think about leaving a legacy now?
Thinking about your legacy involves asking, what spirit am I instilling in my family now?
If I work 60 hours a week and golf every weekend, I can’t be surprised if self-centeredness is infused in my family culture.
Contrarily, if I expose my children through my example of volunteering for important causes they can get involved in too, I am cultivating something countercultural. I am cultivating a generational spirit of giving of time, talent, and financial resources.
Some of us feel like we need to be millionaires to leave a legacy. Is this true?
“It takes the same heart to give $25 as it does to give $25 million,” says Jeff. The amount of money is less important than the intentionality behind your legacy plan.
As an example, Jeff says you can create a trust, or a Giving Fund (also known as a Donor Advised Fund), pick a few organizations your family loves to support, and allow your kids to give out of this fund for years into the future.
Usually, we don’t care about an investment until we have skin in the game.
Opening a Giving Fund (DAF) is a great way to get your family’s skin in the game. When you put funds into the account, they can’t be removed for personal spending. It’s like putting money into an envelope you get to then give out of in the future, providing a level of accountability for those managing the fund.
It’s also important to remember, says Jeff, leaving a legacy of giving starts in your home and in your neighborhood. Generosity can involve money, but it can also be as simple as cooking a meal with your family and delivering it to a neighbor.
Money without heart doesn’t go far, but a heart of generosity can impact generations.
“Leaving a legacy starts in your home and neighborhood. Generosity can involve money, but it can also be as simple as cooking a meal with your family and delivering it to a neighbor.”
~ Jeff Bradshaw
I want to leave a legacy of generosity. But how do I know what to give to?
First, you need to know your identity. What are your values? What is your “North Star” determining what those values are? What are your unique passions?
Then, start strategically giving to organizations and causes aligning with your values and passions.
“The giver is becoming more astute about where their money goes,” says Jeff. Organizations like the Ten Talents Foundation are great resources to help you align your passions and giving with organizations effectively meeting the needs of your community.
Sometimes people need a sounding board, coaching, or education on giving, says Jeff. Ten Talents can help people start the discussion, look at their assets, identify assets no longer being utilized, set up funds to save in taxes, and ensure every penny of giving aligns with their values.
The Ten Talents Foundation is deeply thankful for people like Jeff who are inspiring our community to invest their resources to serve others beyond their own lives. If you have questions about starting a Giving Fund (DAF), setting up a legacy plan, or where to begin in thinking about these topics, we would love to connect with you!
Together, we can mobilize a movement of generosity impacting our community for generations to come.
“First, you need to know your identity. What are your values? What are your unique passions? Then start strategically giving to organizations and causes aligning with your values and passions.”
~ Jeff Bradshaw