Ask a 6 year old what they want to be when they grow up and chances are you’ll get an answer like astronaut, fireman or super hero. No need to worry about feasibility or practicality when you’re 6. Just pick something that sounds awesome or involves flying.
Ask an 18 year old the same question, however, and you’ll probably see a wave of anxiety wash over their face. That’s because college is just around the corner and the “what do I want to be” question is starting to take on some urgency.
I’ve helped hundreds of people plan for retirement over the years and there’s a similar dynamic when you ask people about retirement. Ask a 40 year old what they want to do when they retire and you’re likely to get the grown up version of “astronaut.” Buy a sailboat. Plant myself on the beach. Climb Everest. Retirement is decades away, so they usually just list off some things that sound fun and that don’t involve work.
Ask a 60 year old, however, and you’re likely to get a different reaction. The decision has some urgency. Sure, it will include some items from the Bucket List, but they’re not planning a vacation. They’re planning what to do with the next 20 or 30 years. That can be intimidating. What will you do with all that time? What will provide purpose and satisfaction? What will be interesting and challenging?
If retirement is on the horizon and you’re feeling a bit of anxiety about how you’ll fill your days, I want to help. Here are 10 questions that should help get you thinking about what to do during retirement.
1) If you could relive your life, knowing everything that you know now, what would you do differently?
2) What are your highest ideals and/or priorities?
3) If you died tomorrow, what would be your top 5 regrets?
4) If you were to design an improved version of yourself and your life, how would it be different?
5) Who are the people that matter most to you and who do you matter to?
6) Reflecting back on your life, when were you the happiest and why?
7) What skills or talents do you have?
8) What hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
9) What are 5 things that you would STOP doing tomorrow if you could?
10) What would you say if you were at a cocktail party and someone asked you, “Why do you want to retire?”
I hope a few of those questions were helpful to you. For a much deeper dive on the topic, keep your eyes open for my Ideal Retirement Design Guide.
As always, thanks for reading and, for those of you here in the U.S., enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow with your friends and family.
Think for minute about every building you’ve ever seen. The gas station where you fill up. The farmer’s barn. Your home or office. Or maybe something a little more swank. The White House. The Empire State Building. Notre Dame Cathedral. The Parthenon. The Sydney Opera House. Big Ben. The Taj Mahal. The Colosseum. The Pyramid of Giza.
What do they all have in common?
At first glance, not much. They were built in different time periods using different methods and different materials. They are in different countries. Some are little known. Others are celebrated. Some are massive while others are more modest.
The common thread woven through all of them, however, is design. None of those buildings just appeared out of thin air without design or forethought. Before the first hole was dug or the first block was cut, someone (or a team of someones) sat down with pencil and paper and came up with a design. It was a very intentional process that took into account things like the building site, climate, technology, cost, schedule, regulations and, perhaps most importantly, what the building would be used for.
Consider those buildings as a metaphor for your retirement. Your ideal retirement won’t just spring up out of thin air. Someone needs to design it. And since it’s YOUR retirement with YOUR plans and dreams, YOU need to be the one doing the designing. It’s your job to consider all the factors involved and decide what you want that period of your life to look like.
That might sound a little overwhelming, but fear not! I’m coming out with a great new resource that will walk you step-by-step through the process (more on that in a bit). It’s not done yet, however, so for now I thought I’d give you three critical things that you need to accomplish when designing your ideal retirement.
Three things every retirement plan should accomplish
First, your plan should be structured to accumulate the amount of money that you (and your spouse, if married) need to fund the type of retirement you want. The number one fear of pre-retirees is “Will I have enough?” Why lay awake at night worrying when you can know for sure? All it takes is a little homework. The answer is different for everyone, though, so it’s important to arrive at a number after a careful analysis of your plans, circumstances and estimated expenses.
Second, your plan needs to be comprehensive. Retirement has a lot of moving parts. Answering “How much?” is important, but retirement is more than just a math problem. Don’t forget about Medicare, Social Security, your distribution strategy, asset allocation, long-term care and estate planning to name a few. Your plan needs to cover each of those areas and each piece needs to fit together and perform its necessary function. If they don’t, your dreams will never get off the drawing board.
Finally, your plan needs to focus significant attention on lifestyle design. What’s the point of having money and time if you don’t spend those valuable commodities doing what is important to you? You need a detailed lifestyle plan that is designed to provide a fulfilling retirement doing the things you want with the people you love.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll soon be coming out with a resource that will help you accomplish all three of these things and more. I’m calling it The Ideal Retirement Design Guide. I’ll have more to say about it soon, but if it sounds like something that might be helpful for your situation, you can add your name to our notification list and I’ll send you an email when it’s finished. There may even be an early bird discount for people on the list, so sign up if it sounds like it might be for you.
Thanks for reading. Touch base if I can ever help.