Your Retirement Mission Statement: Why You Need One

Retired couple on a mountain

Retirement is a time in life when people are finally able to prioritize their time and energy based on what is most important to them, rather than what is most important to an employer or even a business they own. But surprisingly, many of the thriving retirees I work with haven’t really given a lot of careful thought to what those priorities are. For many, thinking about retirement means careful saving, budgeting, looking ahead at Social Security and other sources of income, and otherwise making sure that there will be financial resources to fund their desired lifestyle.

But a retirement lifestyle is about a lot more than money. In fact, money—while it gives you choices—may not even be the most important factor in how satisfied you will be with your retirement. On the other hand, one person’s “most important” may not even register with another person. In fact, everyone’s priorities, goals, dreams, and cherished ambitions are completely different.

That’s why it’s important for thriving retirees—and those who aspire to be thriving retirees in the near future—to spend some time thinking about the things that matter most. You could even think of it as your “retirement mission statement.” After all, businesses and even nonprofit organizations craft mission statements so they can keep front-of-mind what the core of the enterprise is all about—what matters most. Why shouldn’t you have a mission statement for your retirement? You’ve worked your entire life to prepare for it; why not bring the same focus to this phase of your life that a business brings to its operations?

Here are some ways to think about the most valued, core goals and ideals that might make up your retirement mission statement.

  1. What’s your “bumper sticker”? If you had to sum up what matters most to you, using only as many words as would fit on a bumper sticker, what would you say? Maybe it’s “My grandkids are my life.” Or maybe your bumper sticker is “Life’s too short to spend it all at home.” It could even be something like, “Never stop learning.” The point is, what you’d put on your bumper sticker can say a lot about what is most important in your life. When you can put your finger on that, then you’ve started to write your retirement mission statement
  2. What are your fundamental truths? Think of proverbs or sayings that you have come back to, year after year. Recall the wisdom you’ve drawn upon when making some of your most important decisions. Who are the people you’ve admired most during your life, and why? When you consider what these people and ideas have in common, you’re probably getting close to the ideals on which you’ve based your life. Those ideals and aspirations should guide your retirement, as well.
  3. Your retirement mission statement should be part of your financial and other blueprints for retirement. It just makes sense: the purpose of your careful planning, saving, and investing is to help you live your retirement in the way that is most fulfilling to you. So, as you plan how and when to spend your money, why wouldn’t you spend it on living your life in a way that is about who you really are? Talk to your financial advisor about your priorities, and work together to come up with a retirement strategy that supports them.

I work with thriving retirees and those who are preparing for retirement to design smart, individualized strategies that can help to provide for a secure, satisfying retirement lifestyle. Most critically, I am a fiduciary, which means that I am legally and ethically obligated to provide advice and recommendations that place my clients’ best interests before everything else. If you think your retirement or investment strategy could benefit from a complimentary second opinion, click here to learn more.

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