To Avoid Regret in Retirement, Run Toward Instead of Away From Something

Even trick-or-treaters have a strategy. Be they Barbies or zombies, these erstwhile CEOs of their candy bags are either running toward something (houses that are lit up and welcoming or those with the best candy), or away from something (houses that went overboard on spookiness or the annoying dentist handing out tax-deductible toothbrushes).

When they declare victory at night's end and tear into their spoils, they are much like you and me.

We, too, make financial decisions that involve running toward or away from something. Since every financial decision involves trade-offs, weigh carefully what you get from each direction. I would like to make the case for emphasizing running toward something better than you already have.

When clients ask us about where they should live when they retire, they often are either running away from things they don't like — such as higher taxes or a political climate they find intolerable — or toward things they want more of, such as better weather or activities they enjoy.

Clients less satisfied after running away often misunderstood what they were giving up. They end up returning home because they missed the grandchildren and friends, felt too isolated or wanted better access to health care.

Clients running toward something may have experienced the same losses, but their perspective was skewed toward what they were getting.

This makes sense. Those running toward something feel that they had more control over their decisions.

If you make the decision to move, then you need to build things you want more of. In other words, find things you can run toward and test them.

Try to find community through interactive hobbies, educational interests, or a religious institution. Find areas in which you are interested by exploring before you jump into a purchase.

While renting a home or apartment may not give you the roots that owning does, it lets you test some of your theories about what you want before you make a commitment that can be hard to unwind.

Run toward what is welcoming. It's not really that tricky.

Related: Don’t Fall Prisoner to ‘More’ Ideology