Being forced to stay in a reclined position for a few days after my wisdom teeth surgery, I had the opportunity to observe some TV. I don’t have a laptop computer and the pain medicine made concentrating on reading almost impossible, so TV occupied my brain when I was awake. Mostly, I slept, but I did see snippets of television here and there when I was conscious. And I noticed a lot of commercials about retirement. Most of what I remember are beaches, golf, traveling to fun locations, and a whole lot of relaxing. It made me consider what I envision retirement for my spouse and I to be like, and I realized, I honestly don’t have a clue.
Our retirement plans – what we save, how much we save, and what we want to accomplish – are fuzzy, to say the least. We, of course, want to be able to retire, and we don’t want to be a burden to our children when we do. Self sufficiency is our goal, but beyond that, we’re decidedly unsure. We’ve been slowly increasing the amount my spouse saves in his 401K from 3% when I started this blog almost a year ago, to 6% today (the extent of his company match). That won’t be the end of what we save, but for now it is our start. But the question is – what are we saving for? A house on the beach where we sip cocktails and laze under an umbrella all day? Travel? It probably won’t be golf, since my spouse doesn’t play and I declared my distaste for the game at the tender age of 6 when I threw my clubs into a water hazard.
And I realized, that one of the problems we have with saving for retirement is that we don’t have a vision or something that we’re aiming for. And that is fundamentally tied into the fact that until a short time ago, I couldn’t picture being able to save money for retirement. We were saving, a bit, but we were not doing it with any real focus or purpose or direction because the idea of saving enough while still surviving our present seemed rather impossible. But now that I do feel that saving money for the future, and enough to make a difference, is a real possibility, I’m starting to try and envision that future. And I realize – I don’t expect retirement to be any different than my present, because I haven’t learned how to see beyond the present and into the future.
What does your retirement look like to you? Can you see beyond the present to what you’d like to happen in the future? Are you already retired and living out your dreams? Are they what you expected when you were still planning for it? As I evaluate my goals, hopes, dreams, and reality, I need to learn to see past the present so that I know what I’m aiming for. Without a vision, motivation is hard to maintain.