Whatever the letter, have a plan

The retirement planning process requires the development of a plan — that should be obvious. Recently, when talking to fellow baby boomers after a presentation on retirement planning, I was disheartened by the number of boomers that have no plan and expect to just wing it.

“We’ll figure it out as we go along,” said one. “I don’t want to limit my options by creating a plan,” said another who had done little research on what those options might be.

Granted my bias, based on my experience as a retirement readiness expert and coach, is showing here. But not spending time pondering retirement, developing ideas of what you want to experience and accomplish in your post-employment years, and coming up with a written plan for that time is nothing short of disastrous.

When making other life decisions, like whether you’re going to marry, what kind of career you want, what education you’re going to pursue, or where you’re going to live, you go through a planning and execution process. Expecting to have an excellent retirement experience without doing research and developing a plan is like expecting to find your soulmate by sitting at home and waiting for him or her to ring your doorbell.

Yet, there’s a very real and rational explanation for this lack of planning. It is a combination of fear of the unknown and denial. The baby boomer generation, the original youth worshipers, is struggling to accept the fact they are getting old. Many of us have been perpetually optimistic about our life prospects and future. Now, the end of our career and the end of life is part of that future.

This brings me back to the topic of planning those retirement years. To get the most of those remaining years, to leave a legacy, heal relationships, explore who you are and get to know yourself, doesn’t just happen. It requires both a plan and action on that plan. I would be remiss to imply that this is a simple process. A common refrain I heard when conducting the research for my book was “I’d gladly accomplish my heart’s desire if I only knew what that was.”

Getting to know yourself and what you want can be daunting. It is also one of the most rewarding accomplishments in life. It, too, requires a plan. It should not be surprising that creating a plan requires a plan. If you’ve never before mastered planning, goal setting, time management, and motivation, there’s good news. It’s not too late.

The internet is a great place to learn what to do and how to do it. I like this WikiHow explanation of the process: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Effective-Action-Plan. Your plan will evolve and change during your retirement and may require a Plan A, B, C, D, etc. Your Countdown to Retirement is here to help you and support you through this process. Drop us a line and let us know where you’re stuck, your questions and frustrations with the retirement planning process, and we’ll do our best to help you through it.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.