If you have a well-executed retirement plan in place, when you finally do retire you should feel free; you don’t have to work anymore (although you may want to). You don’t have to worry where that next paycheck is coming from. You don’t have to worry about paying your bills -- it’s all right there, budgeted in your plan. A whole new chapter of your life is starting. You’re in charge. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What are the first steps?
A lot of retirees find this new financial freedom disconcerting. We get used to our routines, especially if we’ve worked at the same place, with the same people, for a number of years. Work is such a big part of our lives, and when we leave it behind, there’s a big space to fill day-to-day. A lot of retirees just don’t know how to fill that space.
To plan a retirement that will make the most out of your hard-earned financial freedom, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What do I value most in life?
This is the single most important question I ask all my clients. I ask this question before we even begin making a real financial plan. Any time we review the plan we have in place, or make changes, I ask the question again.
Your retirement should be about more than just making sure you don’t run out of money.
In order to feel fulfilled at any point in our lives, we have to focus our time, energy, and resources on the things that matter the most to us. Deep down, we all know what those things are, but sometimes we need to get reacquainted.
The best way I’ve found to do this is to write it down. List the six things you value the most. Don’t take this task lightly. If you really value something that doesn’t make the top six, take the time to think about why you rank other things above it. If you need to expand on any words or ideas you list, do so. This exercise helps to get at the heart of your inner self, and you have to know yourself in order to plan for your future.
2. What are my passions?
Growing up in Nebraska, I used to love fishing. When I built my business to a point where I could give myself some time off, I decided to get back into fishing as a way to unwind. My wife, Vanessa, thought it was a good idea and came along too. The hours we spent hiking through Arizona with our young daughter to and from fishing holes turned out to be more enjoyable than the hours we spent casting and reeling. I realized that my childhood passion wasn’t really about fishing, it was about getting out in nature. Vanessa and I started leaving the fishing equipment behind. Instead, Vanessa brought cameras. Our hikes allowed her to rekindle a passion for art and photography.
What are your passions? What activities make you feel completely in your element? What causes and issues do you feel passionately about? What’s that secret dream you’ve harbored all these years you just can’t shake? Again, write the top six down.
3. What is my vision for life?
Imagine it’s twenty years in the future, and you’re looking back on your retirement. What are the things that happened, the things you did, that made your retirement a fulfilling and meaningful time?
Getting all your values and passions down on paper should help form a vision in your mind of what your ideal retirement is going to look like. Were your grandkids high on your values list? Maybe you’ll plan more family visits. Are you passionate about writing? Maybe you’ll turn that spare bedroom into an office and get cracking on your novel. Do you love animals? Maybe you’ll volunteer a few days a week at an animal shelter.
Let your passions and your values lead you to activities that will make your retirement happy. Keep your lists close by, review them, update them. Share your lists with your friends and family; use their encouragement and support as motivation.
And finally, work with your financial advisor to create a financial plan that will give you the freedom to make your passions and values the focus of your retired life.
Jack Davis is the founder and CEO of Navigation Retirement Group, an independent wealth management firm serving high achieving retirees and pre-retirees with investable assets between one and ten million dollars. For nearly three decades, he has been using his asset management and financial planning skills to develop and implement planning strategies that help pursue his clients’ unique goals. Passionate about education, he holds a Masters in Personal Finance and the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ credential. He is also the author of Cash Out! Retire on Your Terms, Live Well and Die Happy, a book that gives pre-retirees and retirees planning tools and insights that can help them flourish throughout retirement. Based in Oro Valley, he and his team serve clients throughout the greater Tucson area and around the country. Learn more by connecting with Jack on LinkedIn or visiting www.navigationretirement.com.
Navigation Retirement Group is a registered investment advisor. Navigation Retirement Group and its representatives may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed until appropriate registration is obtained or exemption from registration is determined. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities product, service, or investment strategy. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor, tax professional, or attorney before implementing any strategy or recommendation discussed herein.