Facing reality when it comes to planning for a successful retirement is easier said than done. For many people, just effectively managing their day to day finances is already a daunting challenge. Add to that list of to-do’s developing a realistic retirement plan and you risk becoming overwhelmed by it all.
What often happens instead is a form of denial and fantasy. We tell ourselves that somehow, someway, our investments will reap double digit returns from now until retirement day. That our incomes will double and cash windfalls are right around the corner. That the 20,000 shares of that penny bio-tech stock we purchased will be worth a million or more dollars in ten years and our home will be worth much, much more than we ever anticipated down the road.
Far too many boomers are banking their future financial security and lifestyle on false premises. I understand the temptation to do this. First, it makes us feel better about ourselves and how we've managed our money. Second, it prevents us from having to make tough and sober decisions about our money and our life right now. And third, being in denial is, for the short-term at least, easier than facing our truth.
No Blame-No Shame
In the Your Money or Your Life movement, two popular mantras when exploring and eventually transforming our relationship with money are no blame-no shame and making peace with the past.
Joe Dominguez, my hero and beloved co-author of the New York Times best-selling book Your Money or Your Life, knew all too well that changing our behavior around money meant going on an inner discovery mission. He knew that we needed to work on the inside, our interior finance, before effecting change on the outside, our exterior finance.
To do this inner work successfully meant avoiding the pitfalls of blame and shame, which are low energy, disempowering emotions. Instead, through his wisdom and guidance, he offered us a step by step guide to financial transformation and empowerment.
Making peace with the past is truly about self-forgiveness and self-acceptance. It’s about letting go of all the should have, would have and could haves and making peace with yourself and all your past financial decisions. And equally important, it’s about living and dealing in reality when it comes to your current financial picture.
The Truth Will Set You Free
If you’ve been living with constant low grade fear about your future and wondering how in the world you’ll ever be able to retire and afford the lifestyle you desire, make a commitment to yourself that come 2013, things are going to change.
Promise yourself that this is the year you’ll summon the courage to face your reality and liberate yourself from fear. Remind yourself of all your past accomplishments, all the times you overcame challenges and rose to the occasion. You can do this. You can be an inner warrior on a mission of financial self-discovery and slay your money demons once and for all.
From there, take the next bold step and hire a fee-only financial planner to provide you a factual assessment of exactly where you currently stand financially. From this vantage point, you can begin developing a retirement plan based on truth - not fiction. It’s this truth that will form the foundation of your plan. And like with any strong foundation, forces may conspire that rock your world financially, but with a strong foundation, you’ll be able to rebuild quickly.
With all the gift giving that will occur during the holidays, why not give yourself the greatest gift of all - peace of mind.
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