Vision for What's NextYears ago, I coached gymnastics. After a tough practice or competition gone wrong, I’d ask my gymnast: “What did you really want from today?” Inevitably, I would get a confused stare, shrugged shoulders and a timid uttering: “I don’t know.”

Here’s what I came to believe about “I don’t know.” It’s a veil for “I know, but I don’t want to tell you.”

When people ask you, or better yet, you ask yourself – What do you want from today, tomorrow or your What’s Next adventure – do you find yourself stuck on “I don’t know”?

In order to get what you really want for tomorrow, it’s important to articulate what you want. You must have a clear picture in your mind of your ideal your future in order to experience it. Start with your must haves. Then picture an ideal encore lifestyle filled with your wants as well as your needs.

When you think of the word ‘retirement’, what vision comes to mind? Is retirement a work issue for you, or a financial plan? What changes do you anticipate along the way? How will you get the most out of each and every day?
Answer these questions by first reflecting on these five personality traits to create your unique, personal vision for What’s Next.

Values. Consider the core values by which you have lived your life. What considerations guided tough decisions? How did you establish priorities? These values can guide you as you design your vision for the next stage of your life.

Inner strengths. List the unique strengths others recognize in you and the ones you’ve noted over the years. How have these strengths helped define your story? Think about how these strengths will define your legacy as well.

Interests. As you look toward more leisure time, do you know what interests you either personally or professionally? What do you want to look forward to doing when you have more time? Social activity is the top ingredient to healthy aging. Successful aging happens when you have a robust network of friends, fulfilling activities and life structure.

What clubs might you want to join? With whom do you want to network? When you just want to get out and about, how will you recharge your batteries to create excitement, anticipation or simply to rest and contemplate?

Defining Financial Comfort. We’ve all heard that money does not make you happy. Nonetheless, a happy What’s Next can be defined by how you look at creating financial comfort.

Financial comfort refers to being able to manage your life in a satisfying and fulfilling way using the financial resources that you have. If financial discomfort contributes to stress, then your financial plan becomes a negative rather than a positive. The keys to achieving financial comfort are to have a clear understanding of the financial resources you have and the demands on your money that will come from the life you lead (both now and in the future).

One good way to look at your financial situation in this next life phase is to think about the three buckets that you will have to keep filled in order to achieve financial comfort:

Your “essentials” bucket, which will pay for all of your basic needs
Your “lifestyle” bucket, which will fund those fun things that you dream of doing
Your “nest egg” bucket, which will fund any emergencies that may arise, provide you with a sense of security through good and challenging times and ultimately will form part of your legacy.

Mindset. Satchel Page once asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” Your prevailing mindset – positive or negative – dictates your design for your encore lifestyle. Sociologists have identified six life transitions that affect most people as they move through end-of-career and into retirement. The greatest of these transitions is the one that you see each time you look in a mirror. While getting older certainly is a physical change, aging does not have to be a mental change. You are as young as you feel and as confident as you choose.

Whatever vision you create for any or all aspects of your encore stage of life, know that it will be subject to change as time goes on. Trust the use of your inner resources to upgrade and alter your vision for every aspect of your life with clarity and confidence.