Why You Need To Set Goals for Retirement

Throughout my career I almost always had clear goals, objectives, and expectations. Often, my performance objectives were well documented and discussed, with varying degrees of frequency, with my boss throughout the year. We would discuss “headwinds” and “tailwinds” that are impacting performance, being sure to give credit to others who contributed to successes while taking full accountability for any failures as to not get caught up in the blame game. Overall, the process was positive and having clearly defined goals helped drive the right activities and made prioritizing much easier.

So why are we talking about setting goals? One of the things we look forward to in retirement is not having to meet performance goals and the stress associated with goals or maybe the competitiveness needed to outperform our goals or others. The good news is in retirement you do not have to out retire anyone else. You do not need to out travel, out exercise, out sleep-in, or out anything or anybody else.

Why can’t we just go from day to day, golfing, day trading, meeting up with friends, and just doing whatever? You can, and in fact having more free time is one of the pleasures of being retired. The goals you set for your retirement should be fun, entertaining, rewarding and have benefits of living healthier and possibly longer. You simply want to have a great life and make your next decade your best decade. 

Here are some ideas for retirement goals:

  • Travel – There are so many options. National Parks, road trips, trips abroad, cruises, visit family, take a break from family.
  • Learning – Staying current with technology, musical instrument, new sport, home improvement.
  • Volunteerism – Participating with volunteer events, joining a non-profit board, fund raising, giving back can improve mood, attitude and overall wellbeing.
  • Networking – Staying connected with others and meeting new people can make life more rewarding, engaging and can strengthen mental wellbeing.
  • Exercise – For many people it is possible to exercise more and be in better share than they ever were during their full-time career.
  • Health – Goals to improve one’s health can reduce or eliminate the need for maintenance medications, avoid new medical conditions and make life more enjoyable.
  • Reading – A book a week, month, classics, the options are endless.
  • Work – work? This may be more of an encore and does not have to be a second act. The goal might be not to work too much. Not having to worry about a career or the next promotion, work goals can be focused on impact to the business, community, or others.

Although I don’t favor negative goals like not watching too much TV or cable news, and not being sedentary, by having retirement goals you will be more likely have other positive outcomes. Share your goals with others for accountability. Success with retirement goals should look like having more fun, meeting more people, being more active, possibly slowing down the effects of aging, and still having more time for leisure and relaxation.

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