Ads about retirement usually show … a beach. A beach, and soft lighting, and probably a highly metaphorical sunset. And hey, that’s not a terrible setup. But it’s kind of a cliché. And it’s also not very much to go on when you’re making plans for that part of your life.
Maybe that's why one recent study found that nearly half — 46% — of women are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” in their ability to build an awesome retirement. (Meanwhile, only 31% of men said the same thing.) That study also found that 45% of women and 29% of men had no retirement strategy at all.
Here’s the thing: You’re still going to be you when you’re retired. You’re not going to stop wanting to do the things you want to do today. You’ll have the same hatred of black licorice (or whatever), put the same all-time favorite movies in your playlist, and probably more or less want the same life you already have — all of it. That’s why we call planning for retirement “planning for Future You.”
Let’s take that a step farther.
Reframing retirement planning as self-care
We all more or less get the concept of self-care = taking time out of the day to take care of all the mental, emotional, and physical health stuff. It’s likely the first thing to go when you’re busy or distracted … but taking the time to put yourself first definitely helps you be more focused and more productive, and better off later on.
So, in the name of our future mental, emotional, and physical health, maybe it’s time to put retirement in the “self-care” bucket, and not just the “financial chore” bucket, and start a routine that more obviously connects You Now with You Later On.
If you already have a self-care routine like one of those below, here's how to fit retirement in:
Take some time to picture a day in retirement … what it would really look like, hour by hour. Visualizing your future success is a legit way to help you achieve your goals. It also works as present-day self-care: It can help you reduce stress and anxiety about your life by making it feel more real and under your control. (It can also be calming to picture yourself in your happy place, too — like on that island where you imagine Future You having a vacation spot, if that's your thing.)
Exercising and taking care of your body today is one way to help Future You keep doing the things you love, even when you’re older. That’s one of the main reasons to do physical self-care. And fiscal self-care? Same. If you see your gym membership fee as an “investment” in your own health and wellness, try thinking of your retirement savings in the same way. (And hard cold truth time: if you’re doing the things to help you live longer and you’re not doing the things that will help you live well near the end of that life … what’s the point?)
Yogis and meditators know that the self-healing aspects of mindfulness are grounded in practice — in other words, doing it habitually and regularly. A retirement practice can fall into the same mental category: Every time you check in to make sure you’re on track for retirement, every time that recurring deposit hits your retirement investment account, you’re putting yourself first.
Taking time now to save time later
There's something about a paper planner. For some of us, nothing makes us feel more centered than sitting down to fill in calendars, make lists, and put everything in its place — and making lists can help with anxiety, too. And since writing your goals down makes you more likely to achieve them, taking time to come up with a number and act on your plan can be a self-care win for both Current You and Future You.
“Treat yo self”
Nurturing yourself with treats has self-care benefits. And here are some telling stats: 71% of women say their retirement dreams involve traveling, 61% say spending more time with family and friends, and 48% say putting time into their hobbies. Those all sound like pretty sweet treats for Future You — so if you’re the type to save up for a fun splurge, think of your retirement contributions as putting money in for epic fun later on.
Whatever your retirement dreams are, the only way to is to start taking care of Future You as well as you’re taking care of Current You. Make it happen by investing for the retirement you want.
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