June 10, 2018

What Are Your Retirement Wishes?


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.


12 comments:

  1. Bob, you really have a wonderful, informative blog. I so look forward to your posts all the time. I hearty 'thank you' for your time and effort. I appreciate you so much!

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  2. For some people the hardest part can be discovering what new goal attracts them. It is so easy to limit oneself by assuming that something new and really different is totally out of reach.

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    1. You are absolutely correct. In fact, one of the reasons someone "unretires" is because he or she can't figure out what to do without the structure of work. That person has limited his options by not pushing past what he or she already knows or is comfortable with.

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  3. What we wanted from retirement changed each year so far! We are 4 years in.. almost 5. I also read an article discussing the facotrs that lead one to decide to retire at a certain time.. it's not always "when we have the money." For Ken and I it was a combination of desire for freedom, desire for better health, less stress, and we weighted the money implications of waiting or going out early. We retired early! As you know,ken went BACK to work, because ,well, what we wanted from retirement changed!! he is so happy with 2 balanced days a week of working from a lovely home office. I am happy NOT working. I have hobbies friends and like to spend time with just myself too!! Retirement time is such an opportunity to learn new things about one's self and to try new things..no obligation to stick with something you end up not liking.. let every year bring a new idea.. or two....

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    1. Even as things changed, you and Ken had goals in mind and worked toward each of them. Sure, the Payson experience seemed like a laudable goal at the time and you made it happen. When it turned out not to be what you wanted, the goal changed to accommodate that adjustment. Imagine how frustrated you two would be now if you had left either the move to the mountains or the move home to an open-ended wish!

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  4. You had me after your first paragraph, Bob. Sounded like the ideal retirement to me. But then that pesky word "plan" reared its ugly head.

    We wanted to travel a lot so we planned our income and expenses and put ourselves into a position that we could stay as long as we do at the resorts we like. I suppose that was the biggest thing we accomplished, and judging by the eagerness with which we look forward to each trip (no matter if a week or 3+ months) I think we succeeded.

    And regarding your comment that "No one in charge would expect revenues to increase 35% without a way to reach that goal" - you obviously never met some of the Sales VPs I reported to during my career. Not a clue as to how #s could be made, but rather just paper pushers that dictated upwards of 100% yearly increases without any understanding of the marketplace. Probably one of the biggest reasons why I checked out early. Now that I think about it, maybe I should go back and thank them.

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    1. Good point about the revenues! In my industry some of my clients expected stellar ratings even though their promotional budget, quality of product, and competitive environment made that unlikely. But, it was easier to reject his ideas and blame the consultant than look inside one's own home for solutions.

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  5. I've always tried to use the SMART criteria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria) for goal setting, before and after retirement - all goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. I wish I remembered where I picked it up because it's proved invaluable many times over. There are lots of things I'd like to have done, or thought I could do, but when I mapped them out they failed on one or more of these criteria and I either had to change things or set a different goal. Of course, unforeseen things can happen or change along the way, but I've learned that goals can usually be readjusted to still meet all of the above. I particularly enjoy having a deadline and knowing what I am working toward and when it will happen - there is immeasurable satisfaction in reaching a goal.

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    1. I just clicked over the that Wikipedia article. The five actions described by SMART fit my point well. The good thing about retirement is what you identified: if a goal becomes unworkable or not what you expected, change goals.

      Thanks, Laura. i am going to copy those 5 guides and post them on my desk.

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  6. I do have goals in retirement, but I am careful not to get too gung-ho about implementing those plans. That is because In my work life, I had to make and implement many, many plans to the point that I experienced serious burnout. So now I just wander along, slowly working toward my goals when and if I feel like it.

    Jude

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    1. Is it working for you? Then, it is the right plan for now.

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