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Your non-financial retirement plan

By Owen Mulhern, CFP®

Why is it so important to plan for your retirement? 

Well, you might expect that the rest of my thoughts on this often discussed subject would center upon the various financial and money elements of your plan.  Certainly, there is an exhaustive array of articles, books, and podcasts addressing the financial dos and don’ts as one prepares for leaving the workforce, but here today, I will suggest that some non-financial elements may be just as, if not more, important.

In almost every phase of our existence, from childhood until retirement, there is a loose framework and structure to our lives that helps us navigate the world and monitor our ongoing progress.  As kids, our parents lay out the rules and expectations, as do our teachers as we move through our education.  We enter the workforce and adhere to the norms of the office and strive to advance and improve our lot in life.  The roadmap is well charted and the benchmarks of success are fairly obvious, right until we retire.  For many of us, retirement will be the first time in our lives that we are truly offered a blank slate…the proverbial dog caught the car, now what? 

Non-Financial Element 1: “Dare to Dream”

Since you have a blank slate, now is your opportunity to write something on it.  As you approach your retirement, one of the most exciting and rewarding things that you can do is dream big.  Then write it all down!  This exercise, done in conjunction with your partner and loved ones, can have a galvanizing effect on defining what you want this next phase of life to look like, as well as to connect those dreams with the dreams of your closest confidants.  Ask yourself this question:  “If I were reviewing my retirement life 3 years from now, what has to have happened over that time frame so that I will feel satisfied with my progress personally, financially, spiritually, etc.”  Take your time to think about this, write down your answers, and then share them with the people closest to you.  You will marvel at how much energy and excitement you will create as you embark on this new life journey, and you will now have defined benchmarks for success that you can use later to chart progress.

Non-Financial Element 2: “Now…get practical”

So now that you dreamed big, it’s time to get more granular.  The average retiree today has over 14 waking hours per-day to fill.  What are you going to do with your day?  Time in retirement can be your friend, as you can now explore any number of new and exciting activities.  It can also be your enemy if you have not thought through in some detail how you will spend your time.  Will this extra time be filled with volunteering and time with grandchildren, or might it be filled with news-media consumption or other vices?  Will you have an exercise plan or will life get more sedentary?  Will you stay connected with friends now that you not at the office, or will your social circle contract and life get a bit lonely.  Will you deepen the connection with your spouse/partner, or will you make each other crazy having to be with each ALL THE TIME?  Over the last 20 years working with retirees at Financial Coach, it’s been abundantly clear that our clients who put in the work to plan for both the big dreams and the day-to-day routine consistently live happier and healthier retirements than those who don’t.  What are you going to do?  Think about it…write it down…then share it.

Non-Financial Element 3: “Celebrate Progress and Success”

You wrote down the big objectives and then got focused on “a day in your life”.  Now, it’s time to review how you are doing relative to your goals and objectives.  Just like in your business life when you periodically reviewed performance and growth, in retirement you will continue to track your progress and make the necessary course corrections as needed.  This continual review and reassessment will allow for transparency into your progress, uncover areas of hidden danger, and most importantly expose new opportunities to exploit.  Our experience at Financial Coach tells us that this virtuous cycle of “plan, execute, and review” can only lead to better results than for those who go it blind. So, open your eyes and make it happen! 

Need help with ideas?

If you’re looking for any book/article recommendations or to learn more about Financial Coach’s “Your Retirement Gameplan” Process, give us a call or send us a note!

Investment Advice offered through FC Advisory LLC, a registered investment adviser doing business as “New Wealth Project” and as “Financial Coach”.  This content is provided for informational purposes only.  Views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FC Advisory, LLC.  Information provided is not and should not be interpreted as investment, tax, legal, or other professional advice or recommendation by FC Advisory, LLC or the members of our firm.  Always consult the appropriate professional regarding your specific situation before implementing any options presented or inferred.  FC Advisory LLC, All rights reserved.