How Thinking Ahead to Retirement Can Improve Your New Year’s Resolutions

Mature Asian Couple At Home Using Laptop To Organise Household Bills And Finances.
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If you’re approaching retirement age, chances are most of your New Year’s resolutions involve money — with a particular emphasis on making sure your nest egg is big enough to carry you through the next couple of decades. That’s understandable (and smart), but it shouldn’t be your only focus.

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You can improve your New Year’s resolutions by thinking ahead to retirement and imagining what it might be like. Steve Vernon, author and president of retirement consultant Rest-of-Life Communications, recommended having fun with your resolutions to help smooth the transition to life after you leave the labor force.

“Research shows that people who are emotionally engaged with their retirement spend more time planning for their retirement life,” Vernon wrote in a column for Forbes. “And indeed, there are many important decisions you need to consider and then make as you transition into retirement. These decisions will strongly influence your quality of life for the rest of your life.”

He offered these resolution suggestions:

  1. Revisit your bucket list. Sure, this sounds obvious, and even a little cliché, but it really can be useful to think about all the things you want to do and accomplish in retirement. It could range from experiencing the many wonders of America to taking up a new hobby. Vernon suggested thinking back to when you were younger, and all those times you said, “When I have more time, I want to…” This is an effective way to build excitement about retirement and ensure you don’t spend too much time stressing about finances.
  2. Imagine your daily life in retirement. One of the most important, but least appreciated, facets of planning for retirement is thinking about what you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis. The fact is, day-to-day activities will absorb most of the rest of your life. There will be a lot of hours to fill, so it’s useful to plan around how you might pass them. Maybe you will want to volunteer, coach youth sports or even pursue a side hustle. If you choose the latter, be sure to account for how any provisional income will affect your taxes.
  3. Envision the kind of person you want to be. Chances are you’ll have a lot more time to think about this in retirement than when you were busy working and raising a family. Maybe there are some areas you want to improve on, like being more reflective, patient, family-oriented or adventurous. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to think about the kind of person you don’t want to be (goodbye, grumpy — hello, happy).
  4. List the people you want to spend more time with. If you’ve spent the last couple of decades telling yourself you really need to visit this person, call that person or have dinner with that other person, now is the time to write their names down. It could be anyone from a long-lost cousin or elderly aunt to high school classmate, college roommate, former work colleague or even your next-door neighbor. This is another way to build excitement about retirement — spending more time with people you care about, who make you laugh or share common interests.
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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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