Google the term “retirement planning”, “when can I retire”, “questions to ask before retiring” or watch the latest ads on TV, or read some of the articles in magazines, and the primary message of retirement readiness involve one of two things, the amount of money saved and/or age.

I recently read two marketing pieces put out by financial firms (one large regional firm and one very large national firm) that used the following phrases, both of which are pretty typical within the financial advisory industry: “How much do you need to retire? [in their Free Guide] and “___ Questions to ask yourself before you retire?” Put your own number in for the number of questions- there are variations on this number. The point is, the advice is strictly about money. Prepare for these two things, the message says, and you will have a successful retirement.

So, what people see and hear as they approach retirement is- when I reach a certain age or attain a certain portfolio size, I can retire. Or, similarly, our age and portfolio size are the primary determinants of whether we can retire. When this message is heard over and over during our lives, it tends to be taken as truth. After all, if many financial advisory firms are all saying the same thing, it must be correct! People also see their parents, friends and coworkers following this same, traditional, path into retirement.

However, for many people, retirement is not the final phase of a traditional three-phase life path previous generations glided into, worn out from a long, physically demanding career, along with a pension and a shorter retirement awaiting them. Modern retirees want and expect more from their lives in retirement.

Don’t get me wrong, the money aspect of retirement decisions is extremely important. We need to have the right level of savings and income to finance the type of retirement we want- to be able to participate in the kinds of activities and spend our time in the most valuable way we can. With longevity increasing, the amount it will take to fund our desired lifestyle is increasing. Add to this the rising cost of health care and long-term care and there definitely needs to be a focus on the financial side of planning for retirement. Absolutely, the money we have set aside for retirement is very important!

But what if we turned the focus of planning for retirement to how people want to spend their time during this phase of their lives?

Take the time to learn about our personal aspirations during this time: What do I want to do? How do I want to divide my time between labor and leisure? Do I want to continue to work- or work less? If so, continuing in my current career or doing something different? What will my identity be if I leave my career? How will I stay healthy and active? And, most importantly, what will my purpose be- what makes me get up each morning with enthusiasm and excitement?

Just as easily as the article above about money mentioned at the beginning of the post, there could similarly be an article titled: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Retire. But in this version, the questions have nothing to do about money.

These are just a few of the main questions people about to retire need to consider. There are many others depending upon what area(s) of retirement that may be causing confusion, stress, uncertainty, or just feeling “stuck” and unsure of your future direction.
In other words, visualizing what our retirement might look like and then creating a plan to make this vision a reality.

So, when you see an article titled “The 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Retire” begin by defining the answers to these NON-Financial questions to define who you will be, what you will do, and how you want to spend your time in retirement. Then ask yourself: How can my money support my retirement lifestyle?

If your NON-Financial wants for retirement are identified first, then the planning for the financial aspects becomes more understandable. You can see and more easily follow why your financial advisor is making certain recommendations. Ultimately, planning for both the NON-FInancial AND Financial aspects of retirement provides more clarity of your future, confidence of your plans for retirement, and control over the process of what you want your retirement will be.
If you are a financial adviser and would like to provide retirement lifestyle planning for your clients, I have written a whitepaper titled- The Strategic Value of Helping Clients Plan Their Ideal Lifestyle In Retirement. The paper highlights the latest industry research on the changing needs of clients and the role advisors can play. It also discusses the benefits of adding retirement lifestyle planning for your clients and your firm.  Here is a sneak peek- (click for a larger view)

If you would like to receive an advanced copy, send me an email ( requesting a copy. In the subject line just put in PLEASE SEND ME YOUR NEW WHITEPAPER.

Help your clients approach retirement plan that covers the following seven NON-Financial areas: Purpose & Identity, Values & Beliefs, Work & Learning, Health & Activity, Family & Friends, Travel & Leisure, and Home & Location.
They will be better prepared by planning for both the financial and non-financial sides of retirement.

Contact me at or 952-994-8937 to reserve your copy.