News / Publications » Publications

What's Ahead? Your Future in Retirement

All of us plan activities intended to add enjoyment to our lives.These may include socializing with family and friends, going to museums or theaters, gardening, attending sporting events or going camping during summer vacations.

Why Plan for Retirement?

All of us plan activities intended to add enjoyment to our lives.These may include socializing with family and friends, going to museums or theaters, gardening, attending sporting events or going camping during summer vacations.

If we plan for a few days of vacation, it only makes sense to do some planning for 15-20 years (or more) of retirement. Most of us, unfortunately, have not developed a clear idea of how we want to live in retirement. In fact, with all of the uncertainties that exist today, we may be tempted to put off thinking about it. We've got to decide to start planning now, because, if we don't, we never will.

What can retirement planning do for you?

It is not surprising that the strongest advocates of retirement planning are those already retired. As a result of their own experiences, they not only stress the importance of planning, but also urge that people begin to plan their retirement as early as possible.

Retirement planning helps us to:

  • Recognize that each of us is responsible for our own retirement.
  • Acknowledge that we have more control over our futures than we may have realized.
  • Identify options that now exist, or which we could create, that could benefit us in our retirement.
  • Be ready for retirement emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
  • Define one or more desirable and achievable retirement life style for which we can plan.

As suggested by this list, retirement planning is the key to making the most of retirement.

What do you expect from your retirement?

Studies have shown that most of us will have the type of retirement that we expect. If we expect it to be satisfyng and rewarding, we will plan it that way. If we expect that it will be a time of loneliness and boredom, we may do little or nothing to avoid those results.

Looking forward to retirement 
The challenge for a person retiring today and in the years ahead is to not leave the future to chance. You have the choice: you can make decisions about your future with little information and no planning — and hope things will turn out, or you can get more information and make plans that will take you where you want to go with your life.

Being ready for a satisfying retirement 
Are you ready for a satisfying life in retirement? Does that seem like a silly question? Being ready is more than waiting for it to happen. It means seriously thinking about it, planning for it, and taking some steps to make it happen. That's the real key — DO SOMETHING! Start now to plan your retirement, even if it's some years away. Then you will be ready for a satisfying retirement.

A lot to think about 
People who are retiring now and over the next 20 to 30 years are, in a sense, pioneers. You are among the first of this or any society to have a chance to experience a real "retirement," and experience it in a positive way. This is due to improved pension plans and Social Security, as well as the dramatic increase in life expectancy. Among the things you will need to consider in your retirement plan are:

  • What will your financial situation be in retirement? Will you be able to live in the way you want, or will you need (or want) to make some changes? What will your retirement cost you?
  • What effect will future inflation have on retirement expenses? (No one knows for sure, of course, but we can be fairly certain that things will cost more in the future.)
  • What are the ways to make your money grow before, and even during, retirement?
  • How will you maintain your health in retirement? What do you think will happen to your health as you get older?
  • How important are friends and relatives? How will your retirement change your relationships, and what can you do about it?
  • How will you spend your time in retirement? Do you expect to be busy? Do you have a lot of interests?
  • Where will you live when you retire? And what about 15, 20 or 25 years after retirement?

Setting your retirement goals

For each of the questions in the preceding section, you can set some personal goals for your own retirement. What do you want your retirement to be? What can you do now to help make it that way? 

What kinds of goals should you set? 
We all know that we will need to set goals for providing food, clothing and shelter in retirement. We've always had to plan for these. But we will also need to set some goals to help us get the sense of belonging, respect, achievement and personal satisfaction that we need to make our lives worthwhile. The key is to set goals that are practical, with plans that are doable.

Know yourself: a key to retirement planning 
Making your retirement future something to look forward to means knowing yourself well. Consider the following questions as a guide:

  • What were the events during your life that were real "high points"? What made them so good?
  • At the time of these high points, did you feel "successful"? Why or why not? What is real "success" in life?
  • What do you like about your present life and the things you do? How can you continue to get the same feelings of comfort and happiness in retirement?

If you know yourself, plan your finances carefully, look for new ways to be productive and creative and expect to enjoy yourself, you can have the best possible retirement. It's your future. Plan it that way.

Get news & updates from AFSCME

Follow AFSCME