Retirement planning lessons from those who have been there

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Retirement Planning. “Money for Nothing”: Great  Dire Straits’ song but wrong plan. Two lessons stand out from those that have been there and done that.

Planning for retirement is often talked about in terms of the money. How much money will I have? How much money will I need? Will the money be enough? Will the money last?

All good and important questions, but lacking the context of money for what?

Retirement Planning. “Money for Nothing”: Great Dire Straits’ song but the wrong plan. Two lessons stand out from those that have been there and done that.

Planning for retirement is often talked about in money terms. How much money will I have? How much money will I need? Will the money be enough? Will the money last?

All good and important questions, but lacking the context of money for what?

Retirement isn’t a destination. I finish my career and I can finally stop working. And then? Do nothing? No. We all have friends bored in retirement and unhappy, because they missed the action. They missed the identity of their working role. They hadn’t created a new post retirement role that gave them a new identity.

Focus on what you can control today.   Plan a purpose and choose happiness.

Money is meaningless beyond mere physical survival unless you have a purpose in retirement. There’s a lot of living to be done for most of us past age 62 or age 65 or whatever your “start date” is.

Retirement should allow you to do what you want to do, not what you have to do.

Retirement should be when you are most in control of your own purpose, focus and time. Once you know what you want to do for your purpose in retirement, then you have a context for judging the money necessary to achieve your goals.

Yes, health and physical limitations increasingly limit choices as we age. You may not be able to choose to be a bronco rider or mountain climber. We plan to travel in early retirement.  Because we know health challenges may limit our enjoyment of touring in later years.

But two lessons stand out from those that have been there and done that.

Lesson 1. Purpose can be found in serving others, sometimes in proving and caring for friends and family, participating in community or faith or otherwise giving of yourself.

Lesson 2. Worrying and anxiety are counterproductive. Focus on what you can control today.  Even if that is only your reaction to a challenging world. Happiness is a choice.

The money necessary for retirement is a function of your purpose. What do you want to do with your time after a life of working on others’ missions? Our contributions to others may shift from physical labor to financial, intellectual or spiritual, as we age. But be sure you plan a purpose and that you choose happiness in your retirement.

Don’t let your financial planning be money for nothing. Great song, but wrong plan.

MTV Dire Straits “Money for Nothing”