Envisioning Your Perfect Retirement… Then Planning For It

Do you have a specific date marked on your calendar? Are you counting down the days until your retirement? You’ve planned for this moment for a long time now, but it’s just as important to plan for what’s ahead. Having the financial resources to retire is the first step but now you have to prepare for how you plan on enjoying it.

In a recent study1, researchers found that the majority of positive words and images people used to describe life after retirement correlated strongly with emotional values. In essence, people put a high degree of emphasis on emotional fulfillment in their retirement years.

With that in mind, what words would you use to describe your perfect vision of retirement?

Great! Now you’ve given some thought to what you want your retirement to look and feel like. But have you thought about how you’ll achieve it? What activities might fulfill you? Are there specific interests you’d like to pursue that you haven’t yet had a chance to?

If you haven’t considered these questions before, it’s crucial that you do so now… and then plan for it. This is because retirement researchers have found that a gap exists between what retirees say they want to do with their time vs what they actually do 2. Specifically, they found that retirees’ need to engage in active activities increased with age (and conversely, the need for passive activities decreased), but most retirees spent more time on the passive activities which actually resulted in a decrease in their overall happiness! Obviously, there is some sort of cognitive dissonance happening which is why, if we want to maximize our fulfillment in retirement, we shouldn’t just think about what we want to do. We should actually do it. And what is the best way to maximize the chance you’ll follow through on something? Write it down! 

That’s why Andy McClaflin created the Retirement Adventure Roadmap.

Oftentimes, we find that when folks fully retire they aren’t prepared for the amount of free time at their disposal. For those that were incredibly passionate about their careers, they may even lose their sense of purpose. In fact, numerous studies have shown that early retirement may correspond with an increase in mortality. That is why it is imperative to continue to be as mentally and physically active as possible in retirement. The more retirees can engage in activities that are cognitively and physically stimulating, the better their outcomes, both from a mental and health perspective.

To help get you started thinking about what you might like to do, consider the following examples from the Roadmap:

Hopefully these questions provoke a renewed interest in your retirement planning – and cause you to ask yourself even more questions! Remember, if you have a game plan ahead of time, and you’re ready to hit the ground running, you will be setting yourself up to make the most out of your golden years.

If you’re interested in meeting with the team at Aspen Wealth Strategies to take a “test drive” with the Retirement Adventure Roadmap, and incorporate that into your overall financial plan, please see this link to contact us for a complimentary consultation. We hope to see you on the road to retirement soon!

This information has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Any opinions are those of Andy McClaflin and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Neither Raymond James Financial Services nor any Raymond James Financial Advisor renders advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues, these matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional. Investing involves risk, investors may incur a profit or loss regardless of the strategy or strategies employed. Retaining the services of a financial professional does not ensure a favorable outcome. Links are being provided for informational purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.

  1. Describing Life After Career: Demographic Differences in the Language and Imagery of Retirement by Chaiwoo Lee, Ph.D. and Joseph F. Coughlin, Ph.D.
  2. Time Allocations and Self-Reported Happiness of Retirees: An Exploratory Stud by Tao Guo, Ph.D., CFP®; Yuanshan Cheng, Ph.D., CFP®; Philip Gibson, Ph.D., CFP®; and Louis J. Pantuosco, Ph.D.
About the Author
Stephanie McElheny, CFP®, EA, ChSNC™

Stephanie McElheny, CFP®, EA, ChSNC™

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Stephanie is a Wealth Planner and Vice President at Aspen Wealth Strategies. A Certified Financial Planner™ professional with close to 10 years of industry experience, Stephanie is incredibly passionate about identifying opportunities and implementing comprehensive financial planning solutions for both individuals and businesses.As a Chartered Special Needs Consultant™ and an Enrolled Agent, Stephanie’s specific expertise includes special needs planning as well as individual and business taxation. Stephanie also holds Series 7, 66, and Life, Accident, and Health licenses.Prior to joining Aspen Wealth Strategies, Stephanie has acted as a Director of Financial Planning and a Registered Investment Advisor for both small and large investment management firms. A Pittsburgh native, Stephanie has served as President and Symposium Chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), among other roles. She also spent time on the pro-bono committee, offering financial literacy education to seniors, veterans, and underprivileged families.Outside of work, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, Steve, and their corgi, Myron. She is an outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking, camping, cycling, and snowboarding. Stephanie also takes great pride in cheering on her hometown sports teams and alma mater – the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates and the Penn State Nittany Lions.

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