Tag Archives: goals

The Importance of Day to Day

Okay, you are ready to retire.  You have your financial plan all sorted out, you have your first post retirement trip planned and you have even started to disconnect from your workplace by saying no more often.  Yet, despite all of this you really haven’t done the one thing that will matter most when you actually retire.

What is that?

Well, I think the single most under rated things people can do for their retirement is planning out what you day to day existence is going to look like.  Pardon? Day to day? Why the hell does that matter?!?

It matters because let’s face it after the first big trip is over and the initial emotional high of retirement wears off (and yes it will wear off at some point) what you are left with is asking what am I going to be doing next Tues at 3pm.  No that isn’t a terribly exciting question but it is an important one to ask yourself if you want to have a happy retirement.

Retirement more than anything else is about drastically altering your day to day existence.  Your job will be gone and now you will have all this time to do things but how exactly are you going to decide what to do and when to do it?  And if you haven’t given any thought to how you will live day to day, you might find yourself bored, anxious and unsure about living your new lifestyle.

So really what are you doing next Tues at 3pm after you retire?  No idea…you might have a problem coming up.

I’m not saying you need to know exactly what you are doing but you should have an idea of what you could be doing.  What hobbies will you be working on?  What goals that matter to you do you want to complete?  When do you want to get those goals done?  What exactly is your day to day going to consist of?

And it is perfectly find to just focus on relaxing initially but eventually you will get the itch to do more than try to clear your Netflix to watch list or finish reading a 15 book series.  These things are fun but since you don’t actually create or work towards anything concrete they don’t fill you up in the long run.

And it might be tempting to consider the fun answer of: I’m doing nothing.  Nothing is fine when you need to relax but you also have to consider that being happy also means accomplishing something  meaningful to you.  Now exactly what that is can be hugely subjective but the key is to have something long term that you are working towards.

What exactly are you going to be doing with your life now that you are retired?  For me, one of my big things is writing books.  Why?  I really love reading and writing books.  It’s really time consuming work to do and yes it is frustrating at times but I enjoy the result.   But that is just my answer, you need to find your own and while you don’t need to know exactly right away giving the matter some thought  can significantly improve our odds of enjoying your retirement.

After that then you can look at building out what your day to day will consist of.  Keep in mind you can fill it with many things and keep changing it up.  I, for example, like to cycle through hobbies.  So this week I might focus on playing old school video games, next week will be focused on building terrain for our D&D game and the week after I might focus on reading a few books.  The point is I like the variety of hobbies and it allows me breaks on them when I get stuck on something.

So what do you plan to fill your day to day with?

My 2014 Target

That’s it…I’m flushing any goals for my retirement plan for this year.  Not one single goal…instead I’m planning a rough target of contributing $50,000 to our various investments.  Why only a rough amount?  Because I already have a longer term target of hitting $350,000 by Jan 1, 2016.  So if I increase my investment net worth by about $50,000 in 2014, I should be well on my way to my longer term target (which again is completely picked out of thin air).

You see I’ve hit the point in my savings routine where I no longer have to try all that hard to do it.  I’m just used to saving a lot of money and not spending a whole lot.  Also I’m not particularly interested in trying to save more.  I’m happy with our current savings rate and I rather focus my energies on other projects.

Although I have to admit that my overly analytical brain really likes having targets of some kind to gauge my progress…hence a rough target for the year.  I’m giving a little ground here to prevent part of my personality from having a crying fit over having no numbers to look at.

Would I recommend this idea for most people? Certainty not.  It’s that making me a wee bit of a hypocrite? Yes, I can see that point of view, but you have to recall I’ve been at this saving for retirement aggressively for over seven years now.   For me saving is so ingrained into me now that spending my full salary in a given year is nearly incomprehensible.

When you are starting out I would map the goals right down to a given month.  You need that goals that detailed because it is very easy to fall off the wagon.  So having a monthly goal and then meeting it gives you a little rush which is helpful to keep you motivated.  At month number 85, it ceases to be helpful, now it is merely a habit.

Do you bother with yearly goals?  Or do you prefer monthly?  Why?

2013 Goal Update

Could you save an average of $4000 a month for an entire year?  In effect, that was my goal for 2013 when I set a target of $48,000 in contributions.  Yet given we had plans for our month long vacation and my wife’s trip back out to Gander, NL to see her baby niece it was bound to be a significant challenge to achieve that goal.

Yet now that there are only a few days left in the month I can say I’m so close to making it that I can smell it.  Yet I confess that I might end up just a little bit short, I’m not 100% sure yet.  The last $500 or so might not actually happen.  So let’s assume for the moment I do miss that last $500, what happens?

Not much of anything to be honest.  The goal was entirely just based on my estimated cash flows for the year, so the reality is if I miss it by $500 or 1% I’m not really freaking out.  After all trying to hit that precise of a target that far out with so much variability in life, I could live with failure if that is what it looks like.

You see some goals are precise and have no grey zone around them.  For athletes you often just either win or lose,  there really isn’t much else.  No one recalls who loses the big game in a few years time.  Yet other goals like my savings target are lines in the sand.  They exist only to help steer me in the right direction, but I still can win the war even if I lose this particular battle.

On a similar note I’m going to be over budget in our Christmas shopping for the first time in a decade by a whole $90.  I failed to meet another target, but then again was it a reasonable budget to begin with…looking back I don’t think so.  We missed one person entirely we would have to buy for, so we didn’t have enough slack in our other spending to cover it.

The point is when saving for something that takes decades it is ok to fail at some of your interim goals.  Frankly I would be shocked is anyone met all their goals all the time, as it would indicate to me the goals are too easy.  Failure is part of life, without the risk of missing a goal you don’t have anything to push yourself with.  So get comfortable with failure, take it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, but also don’t forget to celebrate your successes too.

How do you handle failing to meet a goal?  Or how do you celebrate when you achieve one?