When retirement planning becomes life planning, you win

lovely senior mature romantic couple on their 60s or 70s retired walking happy and relaxed on beach sea shore in romantic aging together and retirement husband and wife lifestyle concept

Image: Ocus Focus/Bigstock.com

Retirement planning tends to be about attempting to make sure you have enough money—and enough to last if you should live longer than you expect.

We all know retirement is more than money, but finances is a major concern. Then there’s the what-will-I-do question, with the answer often found in making lists. The trips. The hobbies. The new experiences. Revisiting old experiences. And so on.

This can become a long list.

But there’s a more important question that should be asked: What do I want out of life?

There are several reasons why this question is  helpful:

The question helps you recognise that retirement is the next stage—of life 

Getting to your retirement years means you’ve already gone through various stages of life. The major difference is that in retirement you have much more control than when you were working. There’s no boss breathing down your neck for a start. Or no responsibility to your employees or your board.

You’re the captain of your ship at this stage and you will want to give your ship direction.

When you ask the what-do-I-want-out-of-life question you’re beginning to think more deeply about what you will do in these new circumstances.

The question helps you better understand your financial needs

Working out what you want out of life helps give definition to your plans. And that means you can put costings on those kinds of things, which will impact your budget.

For instance, if you want travel to be part of your life, it isn’t too difficult to work out how much you need for the destination(s) you have in mind.

Not everything you will want out of life—some experiences, for instance—will have a cost.

What will it take financially to get what you want out of life?

The question helps you set priorities

What do you want out of life? Improved relationships? Better health? Skill development? To seek more understanding and meaning in your life? What else?

None of these things happen without effort. None of these things happen without taking the time to make them happen. That means prioritising them.

The question can help you be real

When facing retirement, the what-do-I-want-out-of-life question needs to be considered in the context of the stage of life you’re entering. One reality is that you are ageing.

That reality impacts on what you can do.

For instance, you may have always wanted to be a brain surgeon and see retirement as your chance. You may even be willing to spend the 8 to 10 years in training to take up the role. But, having aged further along the way, the reality is that your hands would probably not be steady enough to do surgery.

OK, that’s an extreme illustration, but it makes the point.

Another reality—that you haven’t got forever—means you can’t put things off for too long. There may be things you need to start working on before you retire.

So, back to the question: What do you want out of life? Now? And in retirement?

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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