Mark and Karen sat opposite me.
Mark spoke first, “I think we’ve done a really good job accumulating wealth for retirement. We’re here to make sure that we’ve been getting good advice and that my feeling is accurate.”
I looked first at Karen then to Mark, “Tell me, what are you going to do in retirement?”
Mark looked stunned and didn’t answer.
I decided to offer some help. “I presume, you are not planning on sitting on the couch for your remaining years on earth.”
Karen laughed and offered, “He actually has his spot on the couch all picked out.”
We all laughed, but beneath his laugh, Mark was appropriately nervous. He’d never been asked this question before, nor has he devoted any time asking himself that very important question.
Let the discussion begin.
Where you sit on the age or wealth timeline might decide just how close you are to retirement—at least that’s how most people think about it.
Being able to relate to the following goals are common:
“I want to retire when I am 62!”
“I definitely want to be done with work before I am 67!”
Whatever age marker you choose, there are some important issues you need to consider before you hand in your keys.
The gorilla in the room that needs to be dealt with is:
What are you going to do in retirement that provides meaning?
Yes, I have heard it all.
“I am going to play golf.”
“I am going to go fishing.”
“I am going to relax.”
“I will figure it out when I get there!”
The fact is, if you don’t know what you want your life to look like, how can you know what you need in retirement? It’s like building a house from the ground up without a blueprint.
You need a plan, a vision, and an expert to help guide you.
Suggesting that you have a plan for retirement is not suggesting that you have to program out your day, week, month and year for your specific activities.
It is suggesting that you know on what you wish to build the next part of your life.
For example, do you wish to be near family, or do you want to be near the ocean (or if it’s possible, both)? Are cultural opportunities important to you in retirement? What about medical facilities or shopping? How about being close to an airport to ease travel? What about opportunities for part time work?
These are just some of the questions.
It’s no simple challenge to project your needs and wants into the future. The process becomes less difficult if you start with the following:
What do I care most about?
Who do I care most about?
What gives my life meaning?
What activities or endeavors might I want to explore that I don’t have time for now?
Start with these questions and give yourself time and space to consider them.
While they are big questions, they go straight to your heart and core values; so once you get to thinking about them, the answers will likely come.
Take notes, and as you begin to formulate some ideas, you might start to notice the financial implications of your ideas.
For example, if living in Hawaii is your dream, then you need to know what it costs and what options are available to you.
Here are some other factors to throw in the mix:
Health and family history.
Where you live and whether a change in location is wanted or needed.
Suitability with the goals of other stakeholders.
Having purpose is the driving force in life. The studies are clear; without purpose, people do not flourish.
Regardless of whether you are five, ten, or twenty years away from retirement, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the future and what it takes to not only get there, but to sustain a life with purpose and meaning.
For some, it means simplifying life.
For others, it gets more complicated.
But with added factors such as the end to your earning years, health changes, and factors completely out of your control, a plan needs to be made.
Think of your journey to retirement as you would if you were building a house from the ground up. Consider what you want to accomplish when you want your goal completed, what tools you need, what factors could impact your success, and who you need around you to increase your ability to succeed.
You know, like a blueprint.
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