Discover Who You Were Meant to be in Retirement

Goal Planning

Discover Who You Were Meant to be in Retirement

Retirement will be the adventure of your life. Are your grand plans enough to fill your days and your soul?

April 23, 2015

Imagine how you’ll be living in your retirement years. Many would-be retirees paint that picture in broad strokes. We envision the milestones that populate many retirement dreams. Somewhere along the way, though, we never took the time to fully visualize our day-in and day-out needs and how we’ll spend our time and money. And that disconnect can create a schism between what we think retirement will be like and reality.

So, ask yourself: Are your grand retirement plans enough to fill your days and your soul? If not, you’ve got some thinking to do. Let’s get started.

Clearing the clouds

When you close your eyes and think about your first day of retirement, what do you see? Perhaps you’re sleeping until 10. Perhaps you’re taking Rover for the longest walk of his life. But what are you going to do the next day and the day after that? What about 10 years after that?

The age you retire has a lot of implications. For example, retirement age doesn’t just affect your Social Security and other government benefits, but also your ability to participate in favorite activities. So you’ll want to be sure to talk to your spouse about your expectations. You may have to compromise on your lifestyle until you’re both free to live the retirement you envision.

To help you both imagine a richly colored retirement, it may be beneficial to use visualization techniques to determine what you want during those halcyon days, and then break it down by thinking about realistic ways to obtain what you may need, want or wish for. You should start thinking about your general priorities as soon as possible so you’ll have a better chance at achieving it. Here’s how to bring clarity to your vision of the future.

Imagine that  

We can use the mind’s eye to imagine what we want from life, now and down the road. Simply picture the possibilities.

  • Think about what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing and what you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Let your mind focus on those things and begin to imagine yourself doing them at 60, 70 and 80.
  • Pay attention to some of the larger aspects. Did your mind conjure an island scene? An office?
  • Then imagine the smaller things that make up your daily life. Perhaps you’re sitting with your friends at the country club. Or perhaps your grandkids are frolicking in your saltwater pool. Whatever passion pops in your head, share it with your spouse and the rest of your family so you can work toward this vision.
  • It helps if you get into the habit of consistently “daydreaming” about the future, filling in details as they come to you and documenting that somewhere.

What you might need

Once you’ve got a good grasp of the details, start to break down your ideas into priorities. While your dream life can be fulfilling in itself, it takes planning and resources to make it happen. And it makes sense to start by making sure your needs are covered.

Just like when you’re fully engaged in your career, your needs in retirement most likely will be focused on food, shelter and transportation. Your food and clothing budget may not change much but your housing and transportation needs could be drastically different.

Do you want to keep your house or move? Is it too big, too small, too far away from your family? Can you maintain it? Later, you may need to make updates so your home remains comfortable and accessible as the years go by.

Deciding where to live affects your transportation decisions. If you love driving, but worry your abilities may diminish, you’ll want to explore options for public transportation or driving services available in your area. Or if you imagine yourself traveling to far-flung destinations, you’ll want to be near an international airport.

Another need to account for is healthcare. This may not be top of mind if you’re feeling healthy now. But you’ll still have to consider costs, for items like copays for doctor’s visits, Medicare premiums and prescriptions and possibly long-term care insurance premiums.

What you might want

Now back to the fun stuff. There’s little doubt you’ve given some thought to this already. You may have pictured yourself spending time with family and friends or vacationing at a ski chalet in New Hampshire. If you’ve always imagined yourself not working in retirement, remember that you’ll have plenty of free time on your hands. Be sure to think about meaningful ways to spend your time.

If you don’t yet know exactly what you want, do a little research online or talk it out with some trusted confidants. If you need a little inspiration, these common goals can get you thinking about what you want to accomplish:

  • Sending a child to college
  • Leaving a legacy
  • Traveling
  • Staying connected to friends
  • Pursuing athletic, creative or recreational activities
  • Establishing an encore career
  • Giving back
  • Advancing your education
  • Tending your home and garden
  • Getting in better shape / maintaining your health

What you might wish for

This is the “if I could, I would” section. After you’ve covered your needs and prioritized your wants, you’ll still have more that you would really like to see happen. While wants and wishes are close in nature, wishes tend to be slightly lower in priority – things you could forgo and still be content in your life.

What if you’ve paid all your bills, built a substantial cash cushion, taken up deep-sea diving? If you find yourself pining over that classic automobile that just needs a little restoration, seriously consider it. The amount of joy it brings can’t be measured; just don’t expect your prized possession to turn a profit as an investment.

So when you’re drifting off to sleep tonight, let your mind wander over the possibilities. The list is only limited by your imagination and your ability to plan and save to make your particular wishes come true.

Outlining the future

You don’t need all the details ironed out to get started, but the more you can picture, the better your plan for the future. Then you’ll want to make sure your family and advisors can picture your vision, too, and that the details are included in a well-documented financial plan. Being able to clearly articulate your vision helps to prioritize your needs, wants and wishes in order to figure out how to make them a reality. And should anything change between now and retirement – if something has to give – you can revisit those priorities to determine where you’re willing to compromise.



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