Imagining your retirement can motivate saving for it

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A fascinating experiment found that retirees who were encouraged to envisage their retirement wanted to save 31% more of their pay for retirement than those who hadn’t imagined theirs.

Visualising can have an impact because it imagines a future possibility. By imagining it, we’re more prepared to make it happen.

In the report, Brandon Dempsey writes, ‘When we visualize how our lives will be when we’ve realised our dreams, our bodies and minds have an interesting way of helping us get there.’

He suggests:

  • It allows you to see what needs to change in order to get you where you want to go.
  • It helps you to feel the sensation of reaching your goal even before you get there.
  • Visioning your goal releases endorphins—the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good and make it feel real.

And the research says that when you can see your retirement you’re more motivated to save for it.

5 points on visioning and retirement

  1. Envisaging helps with understanding costs

How you see yourself in retirement—where you’ll go, what you’ll do, your plans and bucket list—not only helps you determine to put money aside for it, but helps you understand how much you’ll need to make it happen.

  1. Realities need to be recognised

Dream big, but if you’re envisioning yourself as a long-distance runner in retirement despite the dodgy knee you’ve had since that sporting accident in high school, it isn’t going to happen. Realities do matter.

  1. The bigger dream

In looking at retirement, many seem to approach it as if money is the big thing. Money is important, but if that’s all, it’s a small dream. The bigger dream is to live, experience and enjoy a meaningful life—now as well as in retirement.

  1. Vision without action is a daydream

So says a Japanese proverb. Tony Fahkry puts it this way: ‘Visualisation is the seed fertilised in the mind, whereby action is the flowering plant that blossoms. One needs the other to manifest your goals and dreams.’

  1. What are your possibilities?

Visionaries are known by the way they can look into the future and see the possibilities. That’s helped them change our world. William Wilberforce envisioned a world without slavery. Nelson Mandela saw a united South Africa. Malala Yousafzai sees Pakistani girls being educated.

So, what are your possibilities? They may not change the world, but they can change your life.

Capital Group, the organisation that ran the survey, says that ‘when people envision how they want to live in their retirement years, they are motivated to save more.’ And concludes, ‘If you can envision retirement, you can save for it.’

And, if you can envision who you can be/want to be in retirement, you can work toward it.

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

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