By Jason LaBarge
Managing Partner, Premier Planning Group
“If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me!” That’s my mother’s life motto and I heard that phrase so many times growing up that it’s now my motto too. I use it at home with my kids and at work with my clients! It may seem simplistic, but its truth in relation to retirement planning is undeniable.
The Big Question
At my Social Security and retirement planning seminars, I ask the big question, “Can you quit your job tomorrow and know that you are going to be able to maintain the standard of living you desire throughout the rest of your life?” This question is ultimately what retirement planning is all about; a retirement planner’s job is to help you take the necessary steps to feel confident in answering “yes,” but the most important person in this process is you. If it’s meant to be, then it’s up to me (you).
How to Take Charge of Your Retirement Planning
What does it mean that your retirement success is up to you? It means that you take ownership of the situation and start actively planning for your retirement. It’s a well-documented phenomenon that when you write down your goal and plan toward it, you’re much more likely to achieve it. In fact, according to psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews’ study on goal-setting at the Dominican University of California, you’re 42% more likely to achieve a goal if it’s written down.
Writing down your retirement goal will force you to get clear on exactly what you need (or want) your retirement to look like, and how much money it will take to get you there. This, in turn, will force you to start strategizing, asking questions about where you currently are, and start planning out your specific steps for how you will achieve your goals. Once you have written down the precise steps you need to take to put your plan into action, you’ll find checking off each step is a powerful motivator while accomplishing your goal.
Think Like an Engineer
At my seminar, after I ask the big question — “Could quit your job tomorrow?” — I encourage audience members to start thinking like an engineer. Why? Because many of my clients are engineers and one thing I’ve learned is that they like to gather and analyze data, which is one of the first crucial steps in planning for your future.
Here is how you start thinking like an engineer:
Decide with your significant other what your vision of retirement looks like.
Gather all your current data, such as your monthly budget, balance in retirement accounts, contributions to each account, etc.
Meet with a financial professional who can help you determine how much you’ll need in retirement income to make your vision a reality.
Make a plan with specific steps to reach your income goals, such as how much you’ll contribute to your 401(k) each month, how often you’ll meet with your financial professional, etc.
Execute your plan, making adjustments when necessary, until your retirement party.
Look Forward to Retirement
My mom was a teacher and my father was an office supply salesman. They worked hard and by living their motto, “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me,” they have been able to enjoy the retirement they envisioned. We didn’t always go on big annual vacations or drive the newest, most expensive cars, but they enjoyed life, and when it came to executing their plan of stashing a little away each paycheck, they were like clockwork. They made a plan and worked the plan.
I think everyone should walk into their retirement party ready to dance the night away and kick off the retirement life of their dreams, and it all starts with getting clear on your retirement goals and thinking like an engineer. It isn’t going to just happen. We have to make it happen. “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me!”
For more information about the author, Jason LaBarge, visit www.jasonlabarge.com.
Premier Planning Group is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc. Member FINRA (www.finra.org) and SIPC (www.sipc.org).
Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not endorsed by the named broker dealer or its affiliates. All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy.