You may already be familiar with my retirement questions, the series of inquiries I use to identify my clients’ goals for life beyond work—as well as their hopes, dreams, and fears about it. With these queries, my goal is to custom-tailor a plan that works for them, one that is as emotionally satisfying as it is financially sustainable.
My questions run the gamut from practical to shoot-for-the-moon aspirational, and together, they provide a complete picture of what clients are looking for: a plan that will help them feel productive (a big issue for retirees), satisfied, and set to weather any financial circumstances that arise when they no longer have income from a regular job.
One of my favorite aspirational questions always gets an interesting response: If money were no object, what would you do?
Some people pledge that they’d buy their kids lofts in the most posh part of Manhattan with those imaginary dollars. Others ponder the possibility of fitting into a size two bathing suit, and the plastic surgery procedures necessary to make that happen. Still others wonder dreamily about the logistics of purchasing a 300-acre property upstate, complete with a bed and breakfast and working horse farm.
What’s the point of encouraging all of this wishful thinking? It’s actually two-fold: I get insight into the client’s biggest dreams, while they get a chance to ground themselves after traveling to the far end of their financial fantasies. Often, these questions help guide us toward an achievable goal that is somewhere in the middle, whether that’s contributing a set amount toward a down payment on a home for their children, investing in a little self care, or booking some riding lessons at the local stables.
With the aspirational version of their ideal retirement in mind, we can create powerful plan for long-term fulfillment.