It’s a new year, and you know what that means: setting goals. Isn’t that what resolutions are all about? You get to look back at 2015, review your goals, and set new ones.
It’s also a great time to take a look at your retirement goals. How much money did you put away last year? Are you on track? What do you want to do moving forward? Those new goals are your road map for 2016.
Once you’ve got your retirement goals for the year, what’s next? You need to do something with them. Otherwise they’ll collect dust in the back of your mind. Keeping your short-term and long-term goals in front of you is critical, especially when it comes to retirement planning. Because planning and saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. You need reminders of the end result. That’s why you should visualize your goals.
What Is Visualization, Really?
Now, when I talk about visualizing your goals and dreams, it can mean different things to different people. Here’s a simple definition: visualization is creating a mental image of a future event. Athletes do this all the time. They picture themselves catching a football, breaking a record, hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the bat. That same technique can help you keep working toward your goals. There are lots of ways to keep a mental picture of your dream retirement. Here are a few ideas.
1. Create a vision board. Get a poster board or bulletin board. Put it in a place where you can see it every day. On that board, put pictures, words, symbols, quotes and other reminders of your goal. For example, if you want to open a small business, post pictures of the products you want to sell or the work you want to do. Every time you walk by your vision board, picture yourself in that place. —as long as you look at it frequently.
2. Chart your progress. Once you’ve decided on your retire inspired quotient—the amount of money you need for retirement—create a chart to track your savings. You can use stair steps or a thermometer or a section of a cruise ship—anything that can show the progress you’re making. Every time you save up to a certain amount—whatever you decide—color in that part of the chart. Seeing that you can save and move forward will keep you motivated.
3. Picture it. Literally. Create a picture or photo of yourself doing what you want in retirement. Take a picture of yourself in front of the college where you want to finish your degree. Create a picture of yourself with all the grandchildren at the beach or Disney World (Use some Photoshop magic if you need to.). Once you’ve got your picture, hang it on the fridge or kitchen cabinet so you’ll see it every day.
4. Write your story. If you prefer words over pictures, you can still visualize your retirement dreams coming true. Create a short story about the things you want to do when you retire. Make it as descriptive as you can. Put that story beside your bed so you can read it every night. You might even dream about your retirement in your sleep!
Now, don’t get me wrong. Visualizing your retirement goals doesn’t mean you’ll automatically reach them. Goals without actions are just daydreams. Unless you do some old fashioned w-o-r-k, you might as well be chasing leprechauns. You’ll end up disappointed and with the same amount of money. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get going!