Taking journalists’ 5 questions to your retirement planning

Closeup of businessman building blocks with question words on wood

Image: AndreyPopov/Bigstock.com

There’s a rule within journalism that a report is considered complete if the 5W questions are answered. The 5Ws are: who; what; where; when; and why.

The idea is that a journalist will attempt to answer these questions:

  • Who was involved?
  • What happened?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Why did it happen?

You can adapt the same questions for your retirement planning. Of course, journalists are reporting on a past event, but when applied to retirement planning it’s about the future—the questions need to consider what’s coming. the 5Ws will look something like this:

  • Who will be involved?
  • What will happen?
  • When will it take place?
  • Where will it take place?
  • Why will it happen?

1. Who will be involved?

Who will be involved in your retirement? Obviously, if you have a partner he/she will be closely involved. This is where discussion is important as you plan because what either of you do will impact on the other.

How do you plan to relate to family members? Do you want to renew connections with those you’ve lost contact with? Do you have elderly parents? How will that impact on your retirement? Do you have children who have some reliance on you?

Then there are friends. Do you plan to keep in touch with them? What about friends in the workplace? It becomes harder to keep work contacts when you no longer work together. You may now move in two different worlds, which can make it difficult. Are there friendships you would like to develop?

Then, are there groups or organisations you want to continue in or join?

2. What will happen?

Retirement is a time when you have control over what you’ll do. So, what are your plans? This is too important a time of life to leave merely to chance.

The reality is that not every one of your plans will work out, but it’s worth the effort to try to work out what would be, for you, an ideal retirement and to put some things in place to make it happen.

What do you want to happen? What do you have to do to make it happen? And don’t forget to allow for flexibility and change. That will be needed.

3. When will it take place?

Hopefully you’ll be in control of your retirement and can begin when you want. Unfortunately, sickness and loss of work mean that some are forced into retirement. 

How are you/have you worked out your timing? Does it make sense to you? Does it make sense to those you’re responsible to? And, to be fair, that conversation should include your boss. Why are you choosing that time?

4. Where will it take place?

Where are you planning to live in your retirement? If you’re moving away from your current area, have you checked out your proposed new location properly? For most places, checking it out means living there for a few months—and in the off-peak season if it’s a popular holiday area.

If you’re settled in an area, you’ll need to think carefully about shifting. What are the pros and cons? Tip: think with your head as well as your heart.

5. Why will it happen?

Why are you retiring? This is a question that’s related to the when question. As already noted, it’s worth considering the ‘why am I retiring now’ question as you look at the when.

But this question goes deeper. It’s about your motivation. Why are you retiring? Are you happy with your answer? Is there a sense of regret? What will you miss? What won’t you miss?

If your retirement is forced, can you move beyond the feelings that this could bring to create a retirement that’s meaningful?

There are a whole series of questions gathered around the who, what, when, where and why. That’s natural. It happens as a journalist investigates for their report, and it will happen as you plan.

There’s value in asking these kinds of questions as you think about your retirement. Remember, only you can make your retirement a great one that fits you. Go for it!

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

Category: Planning

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