You want to enjoy an amazing retirement. Maybe you’ve even got that particular dollar amount you’re shooting for. But how do you reach it? Everybody wants a great retirement, but not everyone gets to experience it—so how can you guarantee you’ll be one of the lucky ones?
Luck has nothing to do with it. And there’s no perfect formula to guarantee success. That’s the bad news. The good news is this: People who reach their retirement goals share similar traits. Can you identify these in yourself? Which do you need to work on?
Reaching your magic retirement number is tough. If it were easy, everyone would be a millionaire by age 25! That’s why you need determination. Retirement-focused people keep moving forward even when life throws the worst at them—car repair, market corrections, job loss, hospital bills. They address the problem at hand but don’t let it derail their retirement dream.
A story is told about twins who participated in a study on optimism. Both were put in a room full of manure. When the researchers returned, one twin was in the corner crying and complaining. The other twin was in the middle of the manure, tossing it everywhere. When asked about his outrageous behavior, the boy said, “With all this manure, I figured there had to be a pony in here somewhere.”
If you want to enjoy a great retirement, you need to keep a positive outlook. Yes, the market will fluctuate, and yes, you’ll see it trend in the wrong direction. But you can’t live with a negative attitude—that will only drag you down. Instead, look for good outcomes. See downturns in the market as chances to invest more because stocks are lower. Act on the belief that you can succeed in investing for retirement.
I know this seems like an odd trait when you’re talking about retirement, but hear me out. When my wife and I first started to get out of debt and get serious about retirement, we had to think creatively. We began asking the question, “What if . . . ?” We discovered extra ways to save money and put it toward retirement. Now, finding that extra money is a game we play together.
When you’re serious about retirement, you’ll get creative in finding ways to save money. You’ll figure out how to make the groceries go further. You’ll discover fun alternatives to an expensive vacation. You’ll turn that hobby into a money-maker. Successful retirement planners are imaginative and inventive.
You won’t find the resident slacker at the top of the Fortune 500 list. That’s because successful people go above and beyond the norm—even when it comes to retirement planning. They work the extra hours or take on the extra job. They do their homework and learn about mutual funds and other investing options. They talk to lawyers and other professionals about protecting their wealth. They ask questions until they get the answers they need.
People who achieve their retirement dream didn’t get there by themselves. They connected with investing professionals who helped them achieve their goals—and they stayed in connection with those financial pros. You can’t go on autopilot when it comes to your retirement saving and planning. You need to know what’s in your investment portfolio and in what percentages, and you need to make adjustments periodically, especially as you get closer to retirement.
If you have kids, you probably know about the Zax, characters from the Dr. Seuss books. One is north-going and the other is south-going, and they refuse to go in any other directions. When they encounter each other on the Prairie of Prax, they can’t resolve their conflict because neither will budge. In the end, the world keeps moving forward—and a highway is built over them even as they stay stuck in their places.
Here’s my point: You may have your retirement plan set, but your plan will become worthless (literally) if you’re not willing to change some parts of your plan. You may be investing in one fund now, but what happens if that business sector dries up? You need to adjust your portfolio. You need to avoid shady “money-making opportunities,” but you also need be willing to tweak your investment plan when necessary.
Let’s be honest: You’ll never make a perfect score on this list. Nobody can pull that off. But you can make it your goal to grow in each of these areas. You can be successful in investing (and in life) if you’re willing to put in the hard work to get there!
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