How to create realistic and achievable retirement goals

When you think about your retirement, you probably have a vague picture in your mind of fishing (or maybe just lazing) on a white sandy beach somewhere, or maybe of you and your partner drinking champagne in France.

While it’s fine to dream, it’s important that, as you approach retirement, you actually start to clearly define your retirement goals and take steps towards making these goals a reality. Having purpose and direction will streamline your transition to retirement. Here as some tips to help you transform your retirement dreams into solid plans.

Leading up to your retirement, it’s important that you start to think seriously about what you would like to achieve in retirement. With your partner, write down ten things you want to achieve. This could be anything from enhancing your personal relationships, improving your fitness, or learning a new language or musical instrument. It doesn’t really matter what the goal is as long as it’s something that excites and motivates you. The more diverse your list is the better. Commit these goals to paper and prioritise them.

Next, give your goals the ‘SMART’ test. If your goals can conform to the five elements of the Smart test (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time based) then they are achievable.

Something like ‘I want to get fit.’ Is a good example of a ‘non-smart’ goal – it’s not specific. Rather then saying ‘I want to get fit’, narrow it down to something like ‘I want to run a marathon’ (or something less challenging!).

To satisfy the measurement criteria, you might add some more detail such as ‘I want to run a ten kilometre fun run.

Make your goal achievable by breaking it down into small steps. You’re not just going to wake up one day and be able to run a marathon. You need to work towards it with achievable small steps.

Keep the goal realistic so you are not setting yourself up to fail. If you haven’t done a lot of exercise in the past couple of years, you are not going to be able to run a marathon in a week’s time.

This goes for financial goals as well, you may wish to travel overseas a few times a year but you have to be smart about how much money you can realistically afford to spend in retirement.

The final step in the ‘SMART’ test is to put a time limit on your goal. Something along the lines of, “I want to run a 10k fun run in one year’s time.” This goal now satisfies the smart test. It also still fulfils the previous goal of ‘I want to get fit.’ But now it is a clear goal and not just a vague idealistic desire.

You can apply this method to any one of your retirement goals. Just remember to be as specific as possible and take it one step at a time.

When you have properly considered your goals, and the steps you will be taking to achieve them, you should be able to write them down and see what your life is going to look like in retirement. If you can, spend some time experiencing this new regime to give you a taste of what life might be like.

Every thing you plan in advance of your retirement is going to make your transition to retirement that little bit easier. For more advice on simple and fun ways of developing strong retirement goals, contact Transition Planning Australia.

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