What Does “Retirement” Mean to You?

What’s your ideal retirement? Relaxing on the beach, playing golf, spending time with your family, writing the great American novel, or travelling the world? Whatever you see yourself doing, it’s the well-deserved payoff for decades of saving, correct?

What if it’s not that simple? Most of us feel some pressure when we try to plan a wonderful stress-free and enjoyable weekend. So, how will you handle keeping yourself happy — and helathy — potentially for decades in retirement? In Saving for Bucket List That’s Likely to Evolve in Years Before Retirement, Ron Lieber suggests that planning for your leisure time in retirement is challenging for two reasons: We may not know what fun will look like in the years ahead, even if we think we know now. And, therefore, we’re not sure how much money we’ll need.

Think about that for a minute. Are you recreating now just as you did twenty years ago? Did you accurately budget for your expensive photography, wine, or boating interests?

Lieber references “The End of History Illusion,” published in Science magazine. That article details how three psychologists examined personality, values and preferences and concluded that most of us expect little future change in those categories, even though, if we look around us, we see those changes present in our older family and friends. Apparently, those under age 50 are prone to the greatest differentials between expectations and reality.

So, even though we’ve been encouraged to “visualize our retirement,” do we really know what we are saving money for? As Jordi Quoidbach, a professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain quoted in Lieber’s article, explains, “People like to think of their preferences and values as wise, otherwise they’d change them right away and they’re probably pretty motivated to see themselves as stable.”

And, yet, change is life’s greatest constant! I encourage you to explore — and plan — for that reality.

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