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Goal setting in retirement

When it comes to retirement, it’s important to set goals to help you achieve the retired life you really want. Whether it’s a broad goal, like a lifestyle change, or a more specific action, like a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, retirement goals are key when it comes to helping you fulfil your life ambitions.

Having goals in life is important in retirement

Goal setting in retirement isn’t an essential ingredient for happiness; however it can certainly help you take control.
Here I explore:
  • How goal setting can help with your retirement planning
  • How you can create your own personal retirement goals
  • How to effectively achieve these goals.

Step 1 – Start from the top

When it comes to setting your own goals for retirement, I find it helps people to picture this visually. Try picturing a diamond and then work from the top down. At the top of the diamond put a word that represents what you really want to focus on. When you’ve done this try to get under the skin of it – what does this actually mean to you? Have you given yourself a broad term, or a specific action?

Step 2 – Flesh out your ideas

Then comes time for a little creative thinking – speculate, dream and use your imagination... Close your eyes, somewhere quiet and uninterrupted and imagine your perfect retirement. At this stage, anything goes, rule nothing out, no matter how silly or impractical it may seem. What do you see? What are you doing? Where are you doing it? What words spring to mind when you imagine the perfect retirement? Some of these words will again be broad – e.g. the term ‘relaxing’ or ‘dynamic’; others will be specific activities – like driving around Europe.

Step 3 – Narrow them down

Having generated lots of ideas at the wide part of the diamond, now is the time to narrow down your options and begin the part of the process which helps you to turn ideas into realities. Choose two or three areas from your list that interest you and begin to turn them into actual goals. Now you need the logical, sensible thinking. This is where you develop your ‘go dos’ –  the actions that lead to you realising your retirement goals.
A good way of judging whether your goals can be achieved or not is by using a model that has been around in business and educational settings for a long time. It is called setting SMART goals, which is an acronym for:
S – Specific;
M – Measurable;
A – Achievable;
R – Relevant;
T – Time bound.
The ‘smarter’ your goals are the more likely they are to be actualised.
Most of these terms are self-explanatory. Briefly, they mean that if you are to have a good chance of realising your retirement goals, they need to be clear and unambiguous (specific).
For example, ‘run a mile a day’ as opposed to ‘get fit’ works well. This is a specific goal, and this way you’ll know when you’ve achieved it (it’s measurable); you have set a  goal that is practical and within your capabilities, (it’s achievable); the goal fits with your values, with your idea of what you want your retirement to be like (making it relevant). Finally, setting a time limit gives you a structure/deadline and you can build it into your timetable (making it time bound and therefore more likely to happen).
Getting the retirement you really want doesn’t just happen, You have to take control.
To summarise... Start to visualise what you want to happen – begin with a concept then expand on this to give you a mixture of both broad values and specific actions. When you have a range of options, narrow these down to the most attractive or exciting options, just three or four that you can realise, then apply SMART to them and the rest is up to you.
We hope you achieve what you aspire to. Good luck!
We’d love it if you'd share your experiences of trying this out – post your comments to gain support and feedback from others, and inspire them to do the same. 
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.

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