An asset is something that you own, you get to use it and it brings benefits. Assets can also depreciate if they are neglected.
A tangible asset is one that you can touch, feel or see and you can trade. Some examples are your investments, car and house if you own them. If you neglect to do regular maintenance on your house, its value will gradually deflate.
I first came across the concept of intangible asset in the book The 100-year Life by Gratton and Scott, and to me, it made a lot of sense. It is an asset that you cannot hold, touch or feel and you cannot put a monetary value to it, meaning it cannot be traded.
So what does that have to do with being over 60? Everything. If you want quality of life as you age, you need to take care of your intangible assets and ensure they do not depreciate.
The example familiar to most of us is, when we go on holiday, our fitness and eating regimes tend to go out the window. We also know what it is like getting back to our pre-holiday fitness and cutting out the eating excesses after we have neglected them on holiday!
So, what are your intangible assets? My list is not finite, but it provides the building blocks:
We come into retirement with a wealth of skills and knowledge built up over the years. It is important to maintain these as well as add to them as we grow older.
If you continue working into your late 60s, even 70s, you will need to keep on top of the new trends in the workplace. When you stop learning, you stop growing and thus stagnate.
Both mental and physical health are vitally important. Most of us in our 60s, have begun to feel the early signs of aging – the stiffening joints, the inability to do what we could 10 years ago and of course the senior moments!
The experts in neuroplasticity say we need to learn one new thing each day to keep our brains agile, flexible and to stave off dementia.
We also need to exercise to stave off the stiffness and keep our joints flexible, and we need to eat correctly to curb that expanding waistline. Perhaps it is time for an annual visit to a health practitioner.
I think of fitness as flexibility and agility. In the physical arena, it is about regular exercise in order to push the heart rate up and stretching to maintain joint flexibility. Mental fitness, on the other hand, is about stretching your brain by learning new things or doing activities that stimulate your thinking.
If you look after your body by feeding it healthy nutrients, keeping the weight in check and getting enough sleep, you will find it easier to maintain fitness, illustrating that fitness and health go hand in hand.
In his TEDx talk, Robert Waldinger tells of the 75-year study on a group of 600 men, which found good relationships to be what kept them healthy and happy. He says, social connection is important and loneliness can lead to death.
I would like to add that you need to ‘work’ your friendships if they are going to be an asset because it is the quality of your relationships that determines your health and happiness. A neglected friendship will not be there when you are in need.
An awareness of who you are and your purpose in life will stand you in good stead as you negotiate the transition to retirement.
Some find they become more spiritual. We do have many years’ experience, but that doesn’t automatically translate to wisdom, it needs awareness as well. A good understanding of how you adjust to change is a good start in the transition to retirement.
The family have known you longer than anyone else, and are usually still around when you start fading into old age.
As Waldinger states, social connection is important, and good relationships with extended family is a good place to start. Elder orphans need to look beyond their lack of immediate family and draw on more distant relatives and close friends.
When we transition to retirement, our relationship with our partner changes as we leave colleagues behind and spend more time at home.
Many people neglect this relationship because they think there is no problem with it, as it has stood the test of time. But communication lines need to be open with regard to planning for the future so that both partners are on the same page. Also, roles within the home may need to be re-negotiated.
I am sure you will come up with many more intangible assets that require management, in order that they may serve you and not depreciate. This list is definitely not finite, but rather a starting point for you to look at your own intangible assets and how you are managing them.
What are your strongest intangible assets? Which intangible assets do you need to improve in your life? Please share your thoughts below.