How To Get Inspired: Retirement Planning

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Welcome to the age of choice. Whatever your age, how you spend your retirement is up to you.

Imagine your retirement. Retirement in the 21st century is very much a personalized quest that begins with recognizing what it is you truly want out of life. Stop and think about it. What will it take to truly satisfy you in life? That’s not an easy question to answer at any age.

A tool that can help is Retirement Imaging, or imagining what you would like to be doing in your retirement or senior years. Perhaps the key to what you might want to do in your later year’s lies in your past.

Finding Your Future in Your Past
Favorite Subject: What was your major in school?
Best Job: What was the best job of your life?
Best Year: What was the best year of your life?
Best Vacation: What was your favorite vacation?
Best House: Of all the houses you have lived in, which was your favorite?
Best Use of Money: What product, service, gift, or investment has given you the greatest satisfaction?
Favorite Activity: Of the hobbies, sports, and activities that you’ve participated in, which was your favorite?

Finding Your Balance

Happiness can be relatively complicated. It’s more than feeling good. It encompasses gratification, fulfillment, finding meaning in your life, and more, says David E. Morrison, Jr., M.D., a Chicago-based psychiatrist, recognized executive coach, and consultant to cities and senior management at Fortune 500 companies.

We may have a clue about what makes us happy in retirement from what others say. In the 2004 survey, Boomers at Midlife: The AARP Life Stage Study, Princeton Survey Research Associates International talked to more than 2,250 boomers, ages 38 to 56, about what aspect of their lives mattered most.

Almost four in ten (39 percent) said personal relations with family and friends was the most important; a little less than a quarter (24 percent) pointed to religious or spiritual life, and 19 percent cited physical health as the most important life area.

Let’s take a closer look at what matters to you. How do you divide your time now among work, family, and self? How would you like to divide your time when you’re 65?

What Do You Really Want?

Now that you’ve thought a bit about what matters to you and where you are today, what is it that you would like to do in your retirement? There is no right or wrong answer. This is all about you and what will satisfy you.

What is it I want in my retirement?
Why do I want it?
What will achieving it do for me?
With whom do I want to share it?
What potentially could stop me from achieving what I want to do?

Your Results

The answers to these questions can be the foundation on which to build your choices. Of course, you will encounter roadblocks along the way. You could face either physical, mental, emotional, or fiscal issues. You can minimize some of those issues if you diversify your psychological portfolio.

For example, says Morrison, “instead of basing your happiness in retirement on gratification from just one thing, build in plans to use your interests in a number of different things.” Also, beware the temptation to wear yourself out with self-indulgence and dissatisfying frenetic activity.

This is the age of choice. Think about your choices, and do what you want to do, not what someone says you’re supposed to do, says Morrison.

Article excerpted from Get Inspired to Retire, published by Kaplan Publishing in March 2006 (ISBN: 1-4195-3568-4). The book is now available at local bookstores and online booksellers.

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