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Designing Your Ideal Life (Now and in Retirement) Thumbnail

Designing Your Ideal Life (Now and in Retirement)

By Bryan Lee, CFP®, MBA

Retirement is often seen as a distant milestone on life’s horizon—a time when we finally have the freedom and resources to pursue our dreams. However, why wait to embrace a fulfilling and purposeful life when we can start living our retirement dreams today? By shifting our mindset and making conscious choices, we can find meaning, prioritize relationships, and set achievable goals that align with our passions and aspirations.

Let’s dive in and learn how to transform our lives now, as we uncover the path to living our retirement dreams today.

What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like? 

Financial conversations can often be left-brain dominant. But since money impacts every area of your life, it’s critical that financial discussions also include your hopes and dreams for life. That means we need to dig into the emotions that influence our decisions.

One simple way we can do this is by asking ourselves specific questions about what our retirement goals look like; this includes:

  • Tangible goals: Where would you like to live?  
  • Conceptual goals: What would you like your day-to-day life to look like?
  • Freedom goals: What would you like to be able to do?

Principle in Action

Many people don’t even know where to begin when faced with the above questions and will sometimes provide a surface-level answer, such as “I’d like to travel” or “I’d like to spend more time with my family.” These are great starts, but it may take some time to truly uncover what’s most important to you. That’s okay. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want, there are ways to take practical steps toward leading a happier, more fulfilled life now. 

1. Expect Less

It’s no secret that money can buy peace of mind and less stress by covering day-to-day lifestyle choices. But can money buy you happiness? My answer is: to an extent. Researchers have found that increased income is associated with increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction up to a point—$105,000 to be exact, although that amount varies greatly worldwide. Beyond that threshold, happiness levels plateau, and additional increases in income result in negligible changes in happiness (while levels of stress about money and discontentment also tend to rise). 

Instead of focusing on the ultimate retirement dream (e.g., a certain amount of money in the bank, or a specific car or household item), try focusing on what you do have – and what you have control over – and live in the moment as much as possible. Practicing meditation or mindfulness can have significant impacts on your overall sense of happiness and well-being, and letting go of expectations of what your life should look like can be a great first step in living your retirement dream now.

2. Set Sub-Goals

If your dreams tend to be tangible rather than abstract, that’s great too. To help with these goals, try setting smaller sub-goals that can be achieved more quickly than the ultimate retirement dream. For instance, if your retirement dream consists of retiring in a condo on a beach in South Florida, maybe set a sub-goal of vacationing in South Florida first. Taking that trip a few times could further inspire you to make your ultimate dream a reality and help you decide where to ultimately settle, while also allowing you to live your dream in the moment and test-drive the experience to make sure it truly meets your needs and matches your values. 

3. Find Purpose

Studies show that individuals who live a purpose-driven life are happier and healthier on average than those who don’t. Not only that, but they also live longer! A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or church, spending time with your children or friends, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life. Finding a way to build structure and envisioning what the calendar might look like in retirement will help you in figuring out what activities you would enjoy that bring purpose and fulfillment to your life.

4. Prioritize Family & Friends

This one sounds obvious, but it can be challenging to find time for the important people in our life unless we are intentional about prioritizing them. Life gets in the way and before you know it, you’ve spent a whole month getting stuff done but not really spending any true quality time with the people who matter most. Living your retirement dream now often comes in the form of just slowing down for a moment. Realizing that the laundry list of stuff to buy, deadlines to meet, and things to do is important, but so is connecting with and learning from those around you. 

The great news is that you don’t have to wait until retirement to do that. You can start setting aside time every week to check in with your loved ones and find meaningful ways to connect. Think about hosting a monthly dinner at your house or a restaurant to reconnect and develop those relationships that may have suffered between the busyness of work and family. You might just find that in doing so, your to-do list becomes a little lighter and maybe even easier to accomplish.

Get Started Today

Remember, the journey toward living your retirement dreams now is not a solo venture. Together, we can create a ripple effect of purposeful living that extends far beyond ourselves.

So, why wait? Embrace this moment and seize the opportunity and let us help you in Navigating Your Life JourneyTM to begin making changes so that you can live the retirement of your dreams today. Call (972) 403-1234 or contact us online to set up a complimentary get-acquainted meeting so we can see if we are a good fit! 

About Bryan

Bryan Lee is the founder and president of Strategic Financial Planning, Inc., an independent, fee-only financial advisory firm. With more than 27 years of industry experience, Bryan uses a unique client-first financial life planning approach and process to help his clients get the most out of life. Bryan earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and his MBA in international finance from the University of North Texas. He is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. 

Bryan is actively involved in his community and industry and has served on the boards of several associations and charities, including the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, Family Services of Plano, the CITY House, and the Journal of Financial Planning. Bryan has been featured in local and national media, including The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, CNNfn, USA Today, SmartMoney, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Financial Planning Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and Dow Jones Newswires. And, he has been recognized as a Five Star Wealth Manager and one of Dallas’s Best Financial Planners in D Magazine every year since its inception and recently as a Top Wealth Manager. To learn more about Bryan, connect with him on LinkedIn.