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How Clear is Your Retirement Vision?

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by Denis Wuestman

If you want to go somewhere it helps to have a plan to get there. Seems to make a lot of sense, as I am sure we have all planned or have been involved in the planning of a trip, celebration, or a work related project. They all have something in common – a destination, maybe not in the physical sense but in the context of achievement.

When we approach a retirement transition, planning for our next “destination” can take on a new meaning. Retirement is not something we “complete” but rather a series of destinations or achievements.   This can be more complicated than planning for an event, as it tends to take more thought, time, patience and a “try it” attitude.

Sharpen your Vision

I believe creating a vision of your retirement life is the first step for this part of your life and nicely complements an actual plan.  In the book, “The New Retirementality” by Mitch Anthony, the author’s four philosophical pillars of the New Retirementality include Vision, Balance, Work and Successful Aging. He further points out that “Vision is important because successful retirees retire to something – failed retirees retire from something”. [i]   Spot on!

So, if you are like me, you may find that creating a vision is difficult but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be fun and filled with personal insights. Without a vision of your retirement life, I would argue that your destinations become vague, harder to plan for and you may not feel fulfilled when you reach them.

Here are some things to consider as you think about creating a retirement vision.

  • Have a Purpose – define what gives you fulfillment. Ask yourself: what do you care about? what inspires you?  This is very much about you….and only when you embrace that concept are you able to apply it to other parts of your life.


  • Start with end in mind. I like to think of this as “connecting the dots”:
    1. What am I trying to achieve?
    2. How will that achievement benefit me (does it align with my purpose)?
    3. How will I feel when I achieve it?

Ask yourself: what do you see happening? what will my week /day look like? will this fulfill me?   You may find that this takes time and reflection to fine-tune.

  • Physically create your vision. This is important as it enables you to engage more with your thoughts and ideas.  It also helps when you look to re-visit, tweak or possible change things. This is different for everyone but here are the choices:
    1. Write it – simple
    2. Draw it   – pictures, diagrams, images, ideas
    3. Speak it – use audio to record your thoughts


  • Share it – there is nothing like getting some feedback from someone you respect and trust. In fact, a good listening partner can help refine and strengthen your vision.

You Can Do It!

Janice is a 59-year-old former manager who deployed these same tips when creating a vision for the next destination of her retirement life.

Purpose – she identified the desire to help others learn along with her love of travel to explore new cultures. Both would provide personal fulfillment in her retirement years.

Start with end in mind– in forming her vision she identified that teaching high school age children in a lower income area as a volunteer would satisfy her desire to help the less fortunate. It gave her a personal sense of joy.

Writing it – she liked to write things down and used a small note pad to help keep track of her thoughts and ideas.

Sharing it – she shared her vision with her husband, who gave her encouragement and support, with an added benefit of understanding how important this was to her.

What happened to the love of travel? She also created a vision for what she wanted that to look like – where she wanted to go, why and with whom to share these experiences.   She surprisingly discovered how important the sharing part meant to her.

In summary, having a vision of what you want your retirement life to look like is an important step in moving toward the destinations in that next part of your life. A vision can energize you and make planning not only easier, but more focused. And ….you are likely to be more fulfilled when you arrive at that next destination!

What thoughts do you have on the importance of vision when entering retirement?


[i] Anthony, Mitch, (2014), “The New Retirementality” 4th edition, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons (pg 27-28)

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