This vital exercise enables you to go through a formal process to discover if you even HAVE a vision for retirement (other than sitting around binge-watching shows on Netflix).
Undoubtedly, over the years you've thought about what retirement might be like. Whether you imagined yourself traveling to distant lands or reading the NYT Top 10 best sellers in a year, you've probably development certain things you'd like to do. However, a bucket list is not a vision.
Retirement success starts with a rock-solid vision. Your retirement vision is an essential means for focusing attention on what matters most; what you want to accomplish in your retirement and what kind of person you wish to be. A useful vision has to be rooted in your past, address the future, and deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It inspires you to act to make constructive changes and preparations towards a future reality.
There are four key components to developing your retirement vision:
A compelling story of what your retirement will be like. It captures how you want your life each and every day. Developing a retirement story in advance forces you to pay attention. Those who you share it with (spouse, friends) will want to be a part of it somehow. Articulating the story now helps you formulate plot development.
What does your future look like – what’s the image? If others could travel into the future with you, what would they find? A well-crafted retirement vision is described in concrete terms that are easy to visualize and remember.
The story of your retirement should be a stretch, but it must be achievable, too. If it were not achievable, you would have little motivation to even bother trying. Maybe it's not realistic to travel to Mars, but maybe you could catch a ride on Virgin Galactic into outer space?
Finally, the future simply means out there – some time from this moment forward, but not so far away that’s it’s out of reach.
The next steps is to craft a retirement vision statement. Here's an example of a retirement vision statement:
"I intend to live a retirement of extraordinary exploration and be an inspiration to my friends and family. I will achieve this vision by traveling locally four times per year and internationally at least twice per year. In addition, I intend to volunteer ten hours per week, and read two books per month."
After you've created you vision statement, print a copy of it and put it on the front of your refrigerator. Each day review it making further tweaks at your vision clarifies. Once you have a solid retirement vision statement, you can start to develop tactics and milestones that will help you make the necessary changes to put yourself in a position to have a successful retirement.
Additional Vision Ideas:
To use what you learned in your career to help others
To start a new business
To spend significant/meaningful time with children/grandchildren
To go back to school
To start a new hobby that is a productive use of your time
To pursue a dream you always put on the back-burner
To achieve a new level of fitness
To learn new things, e.g. a new language, how to dance