A Vision For What Happens Next

vision

When we made the move to our current home, our plan, as vague as it was almost a decade ago, was to make this our retirement home.

We really weren’t thinking much about retirement back then. It seemed far enough away that we didn’t give it that much thought. Sure, I had financial plans and a notional idea as to when we might make the decision to retire but life continued without much focus on retirement. Until a few years ago. I had turned 57 and that was when I had originally thought I would be retired. I wasn’t quite ready then but I knew I wanted to transition away from a corporate career to retirement once I entered my 60s. More specifically, I did not want to work past 60 or 61.

It was around the time that I turned 58 that Lorraine and I spoke a bit more about our plans for retirement. And when I say plans, I mean just what were we going to do during that part of our lives? Lorraine was pretty blunt. She told me that I would go stir crazy if I just sat around the house all day. And I agreed with her. The idea of getting old hanging around the house did not seem very appealing.

The idea of traveling quickly came to mind. And, resurrecting a dream that we had many years ago of traveling around in a motorcoach, we decided that this would become a key part of our early retirement years, either full-time or extended-time, traveling in our coach for as long as we remained healthy.

Canada does not offer the same level of support for big rigs like our motorcoach and, as a consequence, it is more challenging to find the types of places where we would like to stay longer term when we are in Canada. So, we have decided that we will build a small house on a lot that can also accommodate our coach. We will become snowbirds with our coach during the winter months. We will do some travelling from our home base while we are in Canada.

These are all broad strokes mind you.

We have our house up for sale as we know that we need to downsize in retirement. Our house is simply way too large for the two of us. We have started to do some decluttering and simplification. We have a lot more to do on that front. And we ordered our coach last year and we started using it this summer. We love it and we can’t wait to get out and spend a lot more time exploring North America with it.

Retirement now seems like a very exciting place to be. It’s just not quite real for me yet.

We need something more specific in our plans for retirement. We need to answer a few basic questions like where will we set our home base while we are in Canada? What goals would we like to achieve during our retirement years, or at least in the first few years of retirement? How will we spend our days? What will we do to keep us healthy and engaged with life?

It is against this backdrop that we are currently thinking about our 30 goals for retirement.

I have some principles in mind. In no particular order:

  • Keep healthy, emotionally and physically
  • Be smart with our money — invest well and spend wisely
  • Stay connected with our family
  • Serve others well
  • Keep growing mentally and spiritually
  • Have fun
  • Be adventurous

I have some work to do to get at those 30 goals.

All Play and No Work

goals

That seems to be the dream, doesn’t it? Retirement is pitched as that time in life when you finally get to do whatever it is you want to do. All play and no work.

I somehow doubt that our retirement experience will wind up that way. It is simply another stage of life where we have more control over our time. That allocation of time dedicated to work, which, for me, is about 50 or 60 hours a week, opens up.

Spending that time doing, well, nothing, does not seem very appealing.

I’m not sure how Lorraine is intending to go about her exercise in terms of defining her thirty goals in retirement but this is my approach, or rather, my framework for setting out some goals in retirement. For each of these five areas, I will build out my goals.

1. Family and Community

The goals in this area will take into account my desire to continue to build and nurture my relationships with my loved ones as well as giving back to my community. As we expect to be doing a lot of traveling in our coach, this will be an area of particular focus. We may be separated by location however we do not want to be isolated by location.

2. Well-being

Maintaining good physical and emotional health during retirement will be key to enjoying retirement. I have generally been disciplined over the years with respect to eating and exercise although every so often I encounter setbacks. My sense is that it might be too easy to indulge in rest and relaxation with a negative impact on overall health and the ability to enjoy these golden years. I have also been in a high stress career and learning how to take things easier will undoubtedly prove challenging.

3. Personal Development

Throughout my life I have been an active learner and retirement provides an awesome opportunity to learn and develop skills. My focus will likely fall into two areas where I have a strong passion: music, photography. There are many other areas that I would like to explore during retirement.

4. Finances

Even though we will have enough financial resources during retirement, I will need to look at how I intend to be a responsible steward. Roughly 70% of our income during retirement is stable, that is, not subject to stock market volatility. The balance will come from my investments. Becoming a strong money manager and a better investor will be an important part of being retired.

5. Faith

Faith and ministry have been fundamental to my life and I could not enter my retirement years without ensuring that I remain true to my mission and values as well as my service as a disciple.

This framework is what I will use to develop my goals. And I know that my goals will not necessarily be Lorraine’s goals. Lorraine will build her list. And then we will compare notes and talk about our goals together as a couple.

Retirement Goals

pass

We have been to Walt Disney World so many times that we know pretty much what to expect. But there was a time, our first time, when we did not know what to expect and, for us, that experience was magical. We enjoyed it so much that we kept going back, year after year after year.

Within the next 12 – 18 months, Lorraine and I will enter a different gate, a gate that leads us into our golden years, a period of life called retirement. This will be our first time and we do not know what to expect. We hope that our experience during this part of our life will be magical.

If you search Google for retirement goals, you will receive a lot of hits, most of which focus on financial goals as if those are the only really important goals. Even then, the financial goals are wildly divergent. The financial services industry would like you to believe that it is necessary to build multi-million dollar portfolios to generate 100% of working income in retirement. Then there are those folks less optimistic who advocate working until you die. Retirement will never be a reality.

The truth is that you will have whatever you have in the way of financial resources at retirement. No more. No less. In our case, we will have pension income from my defined benefits pensions, investment income from our investment portfolio and income from our government pensions. At retirement, we will have no less than 13 sources of income to manage assuming that we do nothing in retirement to generate employment or business income.

How much will we need in retirement? How much is enough?

For us, the financial questions are no longer relevant. We have what we have and it will be enough.

The bigger question, now that retirement is getting so close, is to think through our vision for our retirement years. What will it look like? What will we do?

Lorraine and I have taken some actions to get ourselves ready for retirement. We have our house up for sale. We have purchased our coach, our home on wheels for when we are doing our extended travelling from whatever might pass as our home base in retirement. We have our financial models that look at how we will manage our financial assets during retirement.

But where do we start to set our goals for retirement?

This will be our first exercise:

We will start setting our retirement goals by creating a list of thirty goals on a sheet of paper. The first ten goals will be easy to identify, the next ten will be somewhat harder to recognize, and the last ten will hopefully help us discover our inner retirement dreams. We will each create a list of retirement goals independently, and then compare them afterwards.

I will let you know how that exercise turns out.