Chances are you’ve been asked that question before. Maybe by your spouse or a co-worker. Maybe by your kids. When someone asks you that question, is the answer you give a date or a dollar amount? For most people it’s a date. Something like “March of next year.” or “When I’m sixty-five. Two years to go!”
When you think about it, though, your age has very little to do with it. Sure, you can start taking Social Security at 62, but the average Social Security payment couldn’t lift you above the poverty line. If you’re like most, your nest egg will be doing the really heavy lifting during retirement. It will take over the job that the payroll department handled while you were working. So instead of basing retirement on your birthday, consider basing it on your bank account instead. Figure out the amount of money you need in order to generate the annaul income you require to fund the retirement you want. Get that amount saved and you’re retired, regardless of how old you are or whether or not you are still working.
At almost every stage in life, you need to answer three crucial questions. How you answer them will influence the arc of your life for decades to come. What are they?
1) Where do I want to live?
2) What do I want to do?
3) Who do I want to do it with?
Think back to the previous times in life when you answered those questions. Maybe it was when you were heading off to college or entering the workforce. Maybe it was when you got married and started a family or maybe it was when you had a career change. Knowing what you know now about how each decision shaped and influenced your life, can you see how important your answers were?
As you plan for and enter retirement, it’s time once again to ask and answer “The Big 3.” Block off some time on your calendar to think – and I mean really think – about those questions. How you answer them will largely define how you spend the final third of your life. And if you feel like sharing what you come up with, post a comment below. It might just serve as insight or inspiration for the rest of us.