Life by design has become an attractive option for the generation now retiring. Ten thousand Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, and this will continue for 20 years. Whatever you thought retirement was going to be, most of us have been surprised. The rest of your life might need some planning.
At one time, people just stopped working. A few vague plans were in the making, but the routine was standard. Make a few changes in your daily routine, take a few trips, do more of the things you like and you’re retired. The rest of your life is planned for you.
Today, it’s more like quit one job and start another. Though many people still wait until they’re 65 to officially quit their job, many people work longer, and some retire very early. Stories about individuals or couples who retired in their 30’s or 40’s seem incredulous, but they aren’t that uncommon. What you do with your life at any age is a matter of choice. Sometimes we feel like we have no say-so, but just following the status quo really is a choice. It depends on how you view the control you have over your own life.
How do you make decisions about spending? Big ticket items, like buying a house or car, may begin with a list of likes and needs. It’s personal and requires a large chunk of money. It’s an investment. The less expensive things may also require a list and some research. Summer vacations, furniture, hobbies that require equipment and gear take us to shops – both brick and mortar and online – to get the best bang for the buck. But often, it’s the everyday spending that takes its toll on your wallet. For many, this is the kind of spending that eats up your savings account. Here’s where plans go awry. Spending a few dollars doesn’t seem critical. After all, it isn’t high finance. However, the consequences can be significant. That dollar spent is gone.
How do you go about planning for your retirement? Start with what you really value. Each generation has a pattern that can be followed. But, although fitting in may be a comfortable way of looking at things, it may not be the best plan for you. Family advice, friends and social habits can be persuasive, giving the impression that there’s safety in numbers. There’s a degree of truth to this, but it’s not absolute. Now is the time to focus on the rest of your life.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR YOURSELF?
Here are some of the ideas to explore when making plans.
- What really matters to you? Now is the time to indulge yourself in the things you’ve had on hold.
- Let go of things and ideas that are no longer relevant or that important. This one is hard.
- How will you handle the financial resources you have? Think budget.
- Make time count. Every day still has 24 hours.
- Be your own best self.
A really good plan should be detailed. Jotting down broad generalities isn’t going to get them done. It’s the difference between an aim and a goal. An aim shoots for the side of the barn. A goal sees a target and a bull’s eye, and puts its sights on that point.
All too often, I’ve just lobbed it at the side of the barn. Not a lot gets accomplished that way. I’ve learned to take my time, write down my goals, how to execute them and set aside uninterrupted time to make it happen. This takes discipline. I’ve learned to say “no” to things and people that jeopardize my schedule. Working at home doesn’t mean you’re not working. Focus and concentration are imperative, and necessary to your plan. Write down the reasons you’re doing this: increase your cash flow, more time for leisure activities, less worry, whatever your goals are. Then read it whenever you’re tempted to skimp on your work time. Distractions are a killer.
If you need practice carrying out your goals, practice with small, everyday things.
- Do household chores at specific times.
- Turn off your phone for periods of time.
- Have beverages and snacks where you work, so you can take regular breaks.
- Schedule several work periods throughout the day and evening. Give mind and body a rest.
- Exercise for a few minutes. You don’t have to break a sweat to move your muscles and feel refreshed.
You can think of other distractions that may cramp your style. Completing a goal can be boring and tedious, but when you see your initial plan working and change taking place, it puts a smile on your face.
Results are the endpoint of all this work. But it doesn’t stop there. The results keep going until you stop fulfilling your own dreams. Once it’s in place, you just have to maintain that rhythm and flow, update your wishes and enjoy.
Is it really that simple? Well, no. Maintenance requires a little time and effort, diligence and commitment. But this is Your Retirement. Built on your goals and nurtured with your unique sense of purpose, happiness and freedom.
Is it satisfying to live the life that you love? Know that you’re in charge? Own the tools that chart your course? Well, yes.
What’s the best way to make this happen? There are several very good methods that people find useful. A goal-setting template gives you guidelines for outlining the what, when, and where of living your best life. You can find oodles of types and kinds of templates just by googling it. I found about 12,000,000. Seriously! There are also self-evaluation booklets that allow input to measure your preferences, wishes, goals, style, etc. My personal method of choice is a vision board.
Vision boards are created completely by you. Simply buy a piece of tag board (Target, Staples, Michael’s), have markers and scissors and begin. Vision boards are a combination of pictures and text, plus whatever else you want to add. The sky’s the limit. Decorate with ribbon, stickers, feathers if you like, and pictures you cut out from magazines. Don’t take any magazines? Find a newspaper/magazine stand, ask for an old copy from the dentist, doctor, hair salon, try Goodwill or Value Village. Have fun, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re planning the rest of your life. Think carefully and express in text what you really want. Jot down a time line or calendar date for making this happen. Then roll up your sleeves and go to work. It won’t just materialize.
Planning a retirement you’ll love is – I believe- a birthright. Maybe that’s crazy, but much of life is lived according to the “shoulds”. When you’ve done all you’re supposed to do, the rest of your time belongs to you. Yes, I know this isn’t an absolute, but it’s OK to prioritize YOU.
Do you have an interesting story to tell, a bit of advice or questions about planning your retirement? Blog posts will continue to focus on this important issue in the lives of retirees. I would love for you to share whatever tidbit you might have. You can contact me on the Contact Page, if you wish. Everything here is completely confidential.
To your best retirement,