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Write it down



In my previous post, I referenced the nautical term “squared away” to recommend eight steps to prepare yourself financially for your next phase of life. In my mind, the first and most important step is to “write it down.” Let’s unpack what I mean by this.

“Writing it down” involves more than glibly jotting down retirement goals. Also, be careful not to simply adopt the manufactured TV image of endless vacations and daily rounds of golf. That TV-inspired vision is not realistic and will quickly become boring. Instead, think in terms of a fulfillment plan specifically for you. Take your time to reflect deeply on what your ideal life should look like. This vision or your ideal life should inspire you to action. Dave Corbett author of Portfolio Life, suggests that the second half of life should be a second wind, not just a breeze, but a gust to fill your sails. Your next life phase should be the most rewarding and fertile period of your life.

However, imagining your ideal life can be challenging. The distractions of everyday life often make it difficult to focus and reflect on what is truly important to you. I admit that I struggled until I read a book called Life Planning for You by George Kinder. Considered to be the father of life planning, Kinder created a process to help you visualize your ideal life. He uses a three-question exercise to uncover what is truly important to you. Based off of your answers, you then develop a torch statement i.e., a statement that reflects what lights your fire and keeps you inspired. Frequently reviewing your torch statement encourages you to take proactive steps toward your ideal life, including saying no to things that don’t matter. Your torch statement may surprise you - mine did. I still review my torch statement frequently, especially in challenging times when I need to focus on what is truly important to me.

Having written down your ideal life, you can then start identifying and overcoming the obstacles that may work against achieving your goal. For instance, how much will your ideal life cost? How much money will you need to save to finance that life? It is less difficult to save for your future when you can easily envision it. Mitch Anthony, in his book The New Retirementality, suggests that you think of your retirement funds as a sail that must be skillfully managed to keep you moving toward your ideal life. Sure, winds will occasionally blow you off course, but don’t be discouraged. Because your inspiring destination is written down, you can use it to get back on course.

So take that important first step and write it down. Your written vision will keep you focused, motivated and sailing toward your ideal life. If you need help or just need to talk this through, please email me at Don.Clements@RaymondJames.com.

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