Prepared for the Curveballs of Life?

longevity place planning May 24, 2023

My baseball career was short-lived. I couldn’t hit the fastball. But, for a number of aspiring baseball players, it is the curveball, not the fastball, that leads to an early retirement. It is hard to hit a ball that changes directions.

Life has lots of curveballs. We need to be prepared for them whether we want to or not. According to a recent study by Edward Jones and Age Wave, a number of us are not adequately prepared for the twists and turns of life, particularly in the second half of life.

Health setbacks, including rehabbing from injuries, are curveballs we face over time (Photo by Toralf Thomassen on Unsplash)


Curveballs and Cannonballs

Curveballs are minor setbacks and can come in many forms, such as personal health issues, coping with a spouse’s or partner’s health issues, the need to transition to a new job, the need to find a new purpose, weakening financial well-being, and more. Rarely are these events totally surprising, but their timing can certainly be. We may find ourselves not adequately psychologically or financially prepared.    

Cannonballs are more serious hurdles, such as the loss of a close friend or spouse, significant financial setbacks, and crises in finding meaning and purpose in life. Even if some of these outcomes are predictable, the change can be so dramatic that we find ourselves unmoored. For example, a good friend lost her long-time husband to a heart attack, and years later, she has (understandably) struggled to imagine her life without her partner.

We are often more resilient than we realize, and course correction is important if we are looking to live at our best. It may mean recalibrating our habits around health, such as focusing on a healthy diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep. It may require seeking new friendships and finding a new partner. It may involve reevaluating financial strategies and working alongside a financial planner (note: in the aforementioned study, 94% of people using a financial planner feel confident that they will be able to handle unexpected financial changes in retirement).

The support of local friends and neighbors can help mitigate the challenges faced by the curveballs of life (Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash)


The Role of Place in Preparing for and Handling Life’s Curveballs

Place can play a key role in planning. The right place – physical dwelling, neighborhood, metro area, etc. – for you can serve as an important buffer to the curveballs and cannonballs of life. For example, if you live in an area with a strong economy, it can be easier to find your next job if your current one ends or is no longer desirable. Or, if your home incorporates an age-friendly design and other thoughtful features designed for healthy longevity, you may not be forced to move if you encounter a setback with your health or mobility. Perhaps most importantly, your place can cultivate a strong friendship network that can be supportive when curveballs and cannonballs occur.

Place can also be a valuable tool for course correction. If you lose a spouse, it can be a good time to evaluate whether your current home is the best option for you now. It may not just be a matter of downsizing; a new place may enhance your ability to meet new people, spark new friendships and potentially find a new partner. Wise decisions about place can also be a key financial lever. For example, selling a home, reinvesting proceeds in a diversified investment portfolio, and renting can be a way to improve your financial well-being while also protecting you from downside risk in the housing market.


A Proper Approach

Baseball players receive special instructions on how to hit the curveball. It requires patience, careful attention, and knowing when and where to swing.

Optimizing the odds of living a long, healthy, and financially secure life also necessitates an intentional approach. We are best to anticipate and plan for inevitable setbacks. We should look to surround ourselves with an A-Team of family, friends, and advisors, including financial planners. Core to successful planning also involves doing your best to make sure you are in the right place at the right time.


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