When it comes to retirement, you absolutely want to dream big. Just don’t forget how important it is to eventually get those dreams off the drawing board. Here’s a simple framework that can help. It’s called the 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX for short) and was developed by several people at FranklinCovey and discussed in their book by the same name.
Discipline #1: Focus on the wildly important
The authors of 4DX write: “The more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish.” It you try to do too much, very little gets done and the things that you do, don’t get done well. Concentrate your efforts on a few wildly important goals so you can do them well.
It’s up to you to choose what “wildly important” things to focus on when it comes to retirement. Here’s my suggestion, informed by almost 25 years of helping people plan for retirement: Focus on money and meaning. The money will help you sleep at night (and fund the type of retirement you want). The meaning will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Discipline #2: Act on lead measures
Once you identify your wildly important goals, you need to measure your progress toward achieving them. The authors of 4DX suggest there are two types of metrics you can use to measure your progress: lead measures and lag measures. Lag measures track the thing you’re actually trying to achieve. In our example above, having enough money to fund your retirement was one of the goals. A lag measure would look at whether you’ve reached that goal. Unfortunately, that comes too late to be helpful. Instead you want to track lead measures. Those are the behaviors that eventually lead to successful lag measures. So in our example of money, lead measures could be things like 401k contributions, savings rates or investment returns.
Discipline #3: Keep a compelling scorecard
“People play differently when they’re keeping score,” the 4DX authors write. The scoreboard brings out our competitive spirit, drives us to stay focused on lead measures and gives encouragement when we see progress toward the ultimate goal(s). Returning to our example, maybe your scorecard tracks each pay period that you were able to save a certain percentage of your income. Or if you’re tracking meaning, maybe your scorecard tracks every time you have a date night with your spouse, take a trip or work at learning a new hobby. Whatever your lead measures, keep a scorecard to track how you’re doing.
Discipline #4: Create a cadence of accountability
In the final discipline, the 4DX authors say that you need to put in place a “rhythm of regular and frequent meetings of any team that owns a wildly important goal.” Depending on your goal, that “team” could just be you or it could include others like your spouse, financial adviser, friends, children, etc. Meet regularly with whoever has a vested interest in the outcomes you’re trying to achieve so you can track your progress and hold each other accountable.
Dreaming without doing is a recipe for disappointment. The 4 Disciplines of Execution will help you turn your retirement plans into reality.
Quick Note: I recently posted a video to YouTube on the 8 Habits of Successful Retirees. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can click the link to watch it and click “Subscribe” to see future videos.