Modern technology has provided us with the ability to purchase anything, any time and by almost any means. As convenient as this may be, the speed at which we are now able to transact means there is no longer a delay between our ‘wanting’ something and ‘having’ it. The instant processing of online retail therapy means that the ‘cooling off’ period that was built into the system (i.e. that period of time between getting in your car and actually handing over the cash), no longer exists. If one considers that every purchase in the present moment is in fact a withdrawal against a future financial goal, it is entirely possible that a mental picture of that goal could help delay gratification in the moment. Simply put, the ability to imagine your retirement in the present moment might just help protect your dream.
Visualisation techniques have long been used by elite athletes in their quests for glory. The technique is also commonly used by business leaders to help their teams agree on strategy and direction for the business. Its use has even been extended to those suffering from severe illnesses – helping patients to visualise short to medium term goals that act as stepping stones on their path to recovery. When applying the same visualisation techniques to one’s retirement, we believe that the key is to be the artist of your own unique picture. Mass media very often represents retirement as being an idyllic, sedentary lifestyle lived by well-funded couples in high-end retirement villages replete with golf course, sun loungers and bingo evenings. This version of retirement is created by property developers and does not necessarily find broad appeal amongst those planning their golden years. The disparity between the picture of retirement that is being sold to us and our own version of what we desire for our retirement curtails our ability to author our own retirement blueprint. This, in turn, can cause personal anxiety at the thought of being encouraged to live out a retirement that is not of your own design.
Retirement planning is so much more than putting an investment strategy together to ensure that you can survive the duration of your golden years. Our advice is to view your retirement as a blank canvass on which you, together with your financial planner, begin sketching the outline of what it is you are investing towards. As you draw closer to your retirement, the sketch may take a more definitive form with a distinct colour palette and more detailed background. With improved health and increased longevity, planning one’s retirement years can be wildly exciting as you plan how to reap the rewards of years of hard work and disciplined investing. As opposed to bingo evenings and dinner at 5 pm, think the hobby you never had time for, travel to places you have never been, regular exercise, weekends away, spoiling grandchildren and a vibrant life devoid of the tensions created by repeatedly unsuccessful attempts at achieving work-life balance.
Effective retirement planning lies in the power of the picture that you have drawn for yourself. The ability to mentally produce the image of your future retirement before you transact financially in the present is an effective tool when it comes to delaying gratification. Being able to visualise your own custom-designed retirement forces a clearer appreciation in the moment of what is ‘needed’ as opposed to ‘wanted’. Your vision of retirement becomes a touchstone against which every purchase is held and measured – and anything that has the potential to detract from your unique vision of retirement will be exposed for what it is.
Retirement planning is most constructive when the power of the human imagination is harnessed to create a vivid picture of a desirable future together with an achievable financial pathway that will lead you there. One of the most meaningful quotes from Alice in Wonderland was spoken by the inimitable Cheshire Cat who wisely noted that “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Be the author of your own unique retirement design, and partner with an unquestionably independent financial advisor who will help you chart the course.
Have a wonderful evening!