Retirement planning season is well under way for 2016. For many of us, the thought of retirement is the last thing on our mind as we balance today — work, family, children, family activities and more. However, for people in the retirement corridor and planning to transition to retirement within the next five to 10 years, it’s top of mind. In fact, you can’t get it out of your mind. Retirement may be one of the longest phases in your life, and you may have a lot of fear, pent-up anxiety and uncertainly about it.
You are probably wondering if you’ll have enough money to retire or will have to continue working. Our work lives may be extended, not because we want to but because we have to. For others, the thought of giving up a professional career is daunting, as our identity is tied to our professional work. It’s who we are — or have become. Sadly, this is a singularly focused lens with which we see ourselves.
A happy and healthy life is balanced and reflects simply good living, a close network of friends and family, healthy relationships and being connected to our community. Retirement is a term used to convey retiring from work and not retiring from living. There are some cultures where people don’t retire and continue working because retirement is the equivalent to counting down the days until death. Ouch! If you are feeling uncertain about your retirement, seek professional financial advice for enhanced peace of mind.
The challenge for each and every one of us is finding the optimal balance between living our best life today and planning for our future. Most of us don’t feel our age. Besides, who can look so far ahead, because all we have is today — tomorrow may be a bit fuzzy. So, how do you solve this problem? The answer is simple. Regardless of your life stage, you must plan for a long life, save and invest your money for the future.
1. Live in the moment
There is nothing more powerful then being present and living a joyful existence today. Take stock of everything that is good in your life. If you don’t like your job, home or circle of friends, make a plan to change your situation. Don’t keep waiting for something better, as it won’t happen unless you take charge. Set new goals today.
2. Define your goals
Prioritize your objectives and hone in on the ones with the biggest payoff. Having a clear sense or direction in life is essential to enhancing your peace of mind. Enjoy and celebrate the journey.
3. Think long term
We live in a culture of conspicuous consumption and instant gratification. We buy stuff or things that we really don’t need but may give us some fleeting satisfaction or happiness. Spending our money today, without some thought about the need or goals of tomorrow, is short-term thinking. Retirement may be way off, but it’s a goal. While it is hard to see your future self, your future self will thank you if your present self takes a long view of your life and personal finances. Embrace the fact that one day you will retire from work and be grateful you took stock of your life today.
4. Engage in mindful decision making
Each time you reach into your wallet, think twice about how you are about to spend your money. Check in with yourself to make sure you are shelling out for goal-related pursuits that give you joy, such as life experiences. You may watch your spending patterns changes as you begin to make trade-offs on how you spend your money.
It’s a challenge to think about retirement when living our best life today matters. But all of us will retire from working life one day, and we will need to have a retirement nest egg to achieve our lifestyle goals. In the meantime, enjoy today but try not to lose sight of tomorrow.