Following your retirement dream can be a challenge

Happy senior man in captain hat on steering wheel and navigating sail boat or yacht floating in sea

Image: dolgachov/

Agnes, Howard, and James all had dreams for their retirement. Agnes wanted to breed puppies; Howard wanted to take up acting; James wanted to sail the seven oceans. None of it happened.

Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way for Retirement, tells their stories:

When Agnes retired she found so many reasons not to follow her dream that it never became a reality.

Howard, a long-term school principal—used to the respect and dignity the job created—thought he’d look like a fool as a beginner on stage. Alas, poor Howard, he was only remembered as a retired school principal.

James, a widower, sold the family home and bought a yacht—and kept it safely docked in port. The adventurer within slowly died.

Each story is a tragedy. They arrived at the time of life when they were able to follow their dreams but allowed them to die. It’s true that some dreams will prove to be impractical and should die, but surely they should be tried first.

Here are four ways that may help to make your retirement dream a reality:

1. Begin to investigate now

Gathering information about your retirement project/dream should not be difficult. For Agnes, visiting breeders and talking to them about what’s involved in the business, what’s needed to be a successful breeder, and so on would be helpful.

This would have allowed her to understand the realities of what she was attempting. She may still have decided not to take it on, but from realities, not excuses.

2. Can you start now?

If Howard had begun to work on his acting before retirement he may be performing on stage now. Starting before retirement means he would still have the respect from his day job but would be seen as having an interesting hobby.

The bonus would have been that by the time he retired he could have been feeling comfortable on stage and ready for bigger roles.

It’s worth seeing what you can do in practical ways now to begin to achieve your retirement dream then.

3. The self-motivation process

K C McCulloch from Idaho State University talks about ‘fantasy realisation theory’ and how people will fantasize about the goal they want to achieve on a regular basis. The healthy way to fantasize includes thinking about the negative things that will need to be dealt with on the way.

‘Often, people think about either the good stuff or the terrible stuff,’ says McCulloch. ‘But by considering both, you make the fantasy more realistic, and it will seem more attainable.’

It also helps you plan what needs to be done to make it happen.

4. Seek help and advice

If only James had asked an experienced yacht sailor to help him take his boat out into the ocean and show him how to sail in various weathers. This would have built up his confidence.

Better yet, if only he had gone sailing before purchasing his yacht. He may have changed his dream. If it’s possible, test-driving a dream can help.

Whatever your retirement dream, there’s bound to be someone who can show you, help you, or advise you.

So, what’s your retirement dream? What do you need to do now to make it a reality then?

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

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Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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