If your mind often pulls you into daydreams about your retirement future, I have a suggestion. Pull your mind back to the present, then ask yourself some questions, as a reality check. I can make this recommendation because I am doing something similar. I am now reading a book called The Retirement Maze which presents challenging questions of its own, based on surveys of retirees.
1. How long will I live? This is important for several reasons. Most of all, it is important to putting together a retirement income plan that will not fall short. Conversely, exploring this question will also help you decide when to retire, when to claim Social Security retirement benefits, whether to purchase long term care insurance, and whether to purchase longevity insurance.
2. How do I define “retirement”? Traditionally, retirement meant a complete departure from the work force. But what about those who consider themselves “retired” but continue to work, at least part-time? It seems that for them, retirement is a state of mind. We all have to define this for ourselves.
3. What will I do when I retire? The quickest path to retirement boredom is to leave the work force, sleep in for a few months, then wake-up trying to find something to keep your mind and body active. As some sage once wrote, the problem with retirement is that you never get a day off.
4. What must I change now so that I can comfortably retire later? Inertia and procrastination are enemies of your retirement. If we don’t look hard at where we are compared to where we need to be, our retirement decisions might be made for us via illness or layoff. This brings us to the next question …
5. Can I set a retirement target date? If we don’t identify concrete retirement goals, how will we ever get there?
If you can get answers to most of these questions in a weekend, that is progress in my book. What about you?