Writing down your retirement goals can help you reach them

Businessman Travel Passenger writing in a notebook

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Do you have to write down your retirement goals? Wrong question. Should you write down your retirement goals? Better question. The answer is yes, absolutely!

Writing down your goals gives you a higher chance of reaching them than simply setting goals and remembering them. At least, that’s the evidence from a test conducted some time ago.

Back in 1979, graduates of the Harvard MBA program were asked, ‘Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?’

The results:

  • 3% had written goals and plans
  • 13% had goals, but they weren’t in writing
  • 84% had no goals

Ten years later the same group was interviewed again. Results:

The 13% who had goals but they weren’t written down were earning twice as much as the 84% who had no goals.

However, the 3% who had written goals were earning 10 times more than the rest of the class. You might want to read that sentence again. That’s 10 times more.

Yes, it was about money, but these were MBA (Masters of Business Administration) students. You would expect money to feature in their planning.

But it does signal the value of writing down plans, including for retirement. It’s so you can have a better chance of success. Unfortunately, it isn’t something that most people do. The figures worldwide show that only 13% of employees have a written retirement strategy, with 39% having no retirement strategy at all.

For Australia, the figures look like this:

  • 14% have a written plan for retirement
  • 40% have a plan, but it isn’t written down
  • 42% don’t have a plan
  • 4% don’t know if they have a plan

There’s a warning in these statistics. In planning for retirement you are planning for 20 years or so of your future. That’s too significant an amount of time to leave to chance.

Now’s the time to dream what it could be like. It’s also the time to set it down so you can revisit it every now and again.

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

Category: Planning

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