By Jon Powell, CFP®
As financial advisors, our work is about much more than just picking investments and managing your money. We want to help teach you how financial freedom can improve your day-to-day life and also help you set short-term and long-term goals for the future.
One of those long-term goals for most people is a safe, comfortable retirement. But who says you can’t enjoy some of the flexibility and freedom that retirement brings today? Here we outline some tips on how to live out your retirement dreams now instead of just waiting for the future.
Financial conversations can often be left-brain dominant. But since money impacts every area of your life, it’s critical that financial discussions also include your hopes and dreams for life. That means we need to dig into the emotional side of our thinking.
One simple way we can do this is by asking our clients specific questions about what their retirement goals look like:
Many people don’t even know where to begin when faced with the above questions and will sometimes provide a surface-level answer, such as “I’d like to travel” or “I’d like to spend more time with my family.” These are great starts, but it may take some time to truly uncover what’s most important to you. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want, there are ways to take practical steps toward leading a happier, more fulfilled life now.
It’s no secret that money can buy peace of mind and less stress. But can money buy you happiness? The answer is: to an extent. Researchers have found that increased income is associated with increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction up to a point—$105,000 to be exact. (1) Beyond that threshold, happiness levels plateau and additional increases in income result in negligible changes in happiness.
Instead of focusing on the ultimate retirement dream (e.g., a certain amount of money in the bank, or a specific car or household item), try focusing on what you do have and live in the moment as much as possible. Practicing meditation or mindfulness can have significant impacts on your overall sense of happiness and well-being, (2) and letting go of expectations of what your life should look like can be a great first step in living your retirement dream now.
If your dreams are more on the tangible side, that’s great too. To help with these goals, try setting smaller sub-goals that can be achieved more quickly than the ultimate retirement dream. For instance, if your retirement dream consists of retiring in a condo on a beach in South Florida, maybe set a sub-goal of vacationing in South Florida first. Taking that trip could inspire you even more to make your ultimate dream a reality, while also allowing you to live your dream in the moment as well.
Studies show that individuals who live a purpose-driven life are happier and healthier on average than those who don’t. (3,4) Not only that, they also live longer! (5) A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation, and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or church, spending time with your children, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.
This one sounds obvious, but it’s often one of the hardest things to do. Life gets in the way and before you know it, you’ve spent a whole month getting stuff done but not really spending any true quality time with the people who matter most. Living your retirement dream now often comes in the form of just slowing down for a moment. Realizing that the laundry list of stuff to buy, deadlines to meet, and things to do is important, but so is connecting with and learning from those around you.
The great news is that you don’t have to wait until retirement to do that. You can start setting aside time every week to check in with loved ones and find meaningful ways to connect. You might just find that in doing so, your to-do list becomes a little lighter and maybe even easier to accomplish.
So, what are some action steps you can take to start pursuing your dreams now? You may be surprised to realize that some of your goals can be accomplished sooner rather than later.
At Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, we are here to celebrate your successes and cope with your challenges as you work toward living your retirement dream now. Reach out to us at 301-670-0994 or by email at email@example.com.
Jon Powell is a financial planner and portfolio manager at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only fiduciary firm that has been helping clients plan for and enjoy retirement for more than 40 years. With more than 10 years of experience, Jon is passionate about providing unbiased advice that puts his clients first. He considers it a privilege to carry some of the financial burden for his clients and educate them so they can make empowered decisions for their futures. Jon is also the primary author and curator of the Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management blog.
Jon graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a bachelor’s degree in financial planning and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. When he’s not serving his clients, you can find Jon spending time with his wife, Erica, and their pets, a black lab named Nugget and an orange tabby cat named Kiwi. He loves to play tennis and golf and won’t turn down a good board game. Jon is a diehard fan of D.C.-area sports teams; you might see him at a Washington Nationals game. To learn more about Jon, connect with him on LinkedIn.