One easy step to avoid disappointment in your retirement expectations is to complete a simple but effective exercise I developed. All you need is a pen and paper. Answer the following questions, and if you have a significant other, have them also create his or her own responses:

What Is Your Vision in Retirement?

Writing down your vision for retirement is a very important step as our expectations can give us guidance but can also become road blocks or lead to disappointments. So, give thought to having expectations that are in line with your own reality.

What Is on Your “Bucket List”?

A bucket list does not necessarily mean just a list of places you wish to go. It may also include new challenges to take on, such as starting a new business or finding new passions in new endeavors.

What Are Your Biggest Concerns for This Period of Your Life?

Usually, at this time in our lives we are concerned about things such as health, money, family concerns, relocating or anything that your feel may inhibit your ability to do what is important to you. Once you identify these things, work on finding solutions to overcome them.

Have You Thought About Relocating?

Aging in the right place involves everything from having a safe environment, to being near family and friends, to having access to medical facilities, and balancing it to be within your own financial abilities.

How Comfortable Are You Managing Your Finances?

If your partner was the one managing your finances, is it time to get into the game to be prepared in the event they are no longer able to do so?

Do You Have a Plan for the Ultimate Disposition of Your Assets?

Estate planning is often overlooked in thinking about expectations. Simple things such as updating your POA or Medical Directives and reviewing your Will and or Revocable Trusts are very important as we age because “life happens while making other plans.”

If you have children or grandchildren, will they influence any of the preceding answers? If you are partnered, are you each aligned with the expectations, goals and wishes of the other?

Once you’ve answered your questions individually, share them with each other and compare. Did you both have the same expectations about retirement?

Identify and discuss where you have common interests and ones that aren’t aligned. By both of you expressing your feelings, you’ll be able to make decisions together going forward that reflect both of your perspectives.

Not Being Totally Aligned Is Normal

Think of it as an opportunity to learn more about each other, resolve possible conflicts before they arise, improve the skill of compromise, and find alternatives that will make both of you happy.

Keep in mind that your relationship in retirement will not be the same as it was while one or both of you were working. Anticipating this change ahead of time will avoid conflict in the future.

When your perspectives are different, and you can’t come to a mutual understanding, working with a mental health professional may provide the objectivity you need in order to make decisions that benefit your lives as a couple.

Do you and your partner have the same expectations about retirement? Do you have any differences or possible conflicts that you need to discuss? Please share your concerns or tips in the comments below.

Stan CoreyStan Corey is a CFP, ChFC and CPWA providing financial life management for more than 36 years. Stan has published a novel, The Divorce Dance, which is a story about a divorcing couple whereby the wife, Natalie, guides the reader though the divorce process and how to have a respectful divorce. Please visit his website.

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