What Do You Want From Your Retirement? by Bob Lowry
That may seem like a deceptively easy question. What I want from my retirement is to be happy, to lead a fullly satisfying life. I want to enjoy the freedom that retirement seems to hold for me. I want to relax and do what I've always wanted to do.
OK, those are very reasonable responses. I wouldn't have a problem with any of them. They are fine, as goals. They are where I want to end up after a certain period of time.
Of course, your goals may be very different. You want to start a business and make it a category-buster. Maybe you want to join the Peace Corps and spend 2 years helping starving families somewhere in the world.
You want to write that book that has been struggling to get out of you. You want to earn a degree that has always alluded you. You want to restore 1965 Mustangs or train the real ones. You want to be the best grandparent you can to your child's kids.
All great goals. What they are not is complete. Goals without plans to achieve them are really just wishes or hopes for your future.
I have written a lot about the dangers of making a retirement plan before or after leaving work and leaving it unchanged as time passes. Recently, there has been a lively discussion about how best to schedule one's time during a typical day. Certainly it is possible to over-plan, over-commit, over-volunteer.
So, am I reversing myself? Not at all. The type of plan I refer to this time is a specific one designed to help you achieve a singular goal. It is a plan with a beginning and an end.
Think back to your days in business, teaching, retail, or virtually any way you earned a living. It is likely there was a plan to accomplish specific goals: increase revenue by 35%, cut expenses by 19%, implement new product roll out by a certain date. Teachers, you had a yearly plan to follow to cover certain subjects in a particular order. Self-employed? Same deal. I set goals the first of each year that I wanted my consulting practice to achieve.
Those plans came with steps to be taken to accomplish the objective. No one in charge would expect revenues to increase 35% without a way to reach that goal. I contend our retirement can benefit from the same mindset.
Let's say, you'd like to learn to quilt. Certainly, you'd look for classes in quilting. You'd talk to everyone you know to find other quilters. You'd do some Internet browsing, buy a few books, watch some YouTube videos. Then, you'd start working on something: a bedspread, maybe a blanket or something to display on a wall. Your goal? Finish by Christmas so you give your project as a gift.
How about learning enough about your finances that you can start making some of your own investments? The same process would be followed: gather information, talk to others, set aside a certain amount of money, and start slowly to learn what works and what doesn't. Your goal is to increase the size of your nest egg by 15% by the end of the year. Come December 31st it is easy to see if you met your goal.
Retirement often gives us the chance to set all sorts of different goals, some easy, some requiring lots of effort. To achieve what'd you like from the time, effort, and money you really should not approach a serious goal as an open-ended quest. If there is no finish line, no measurement, I think you cheat yourself out of a lot of the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something that is important to you.
By Bob Lowry