How to Get Motivated to Begin Your Retirement Planning

You, too, can get excited about planning for retirement—really—with a simple shift in perspective.

Retirement planning can feel a little like rotating your mattress. You know it's something you should do, but how often should you do it? What's the right way to do it? Do you need help to get it done?

Rotating your mattress has some clear-cut answers to those questions (about every three months, carefully, and yes, probably), while retirement planning can be a little more vague and situation-specific. The good news for retirement planners, though, is that you can get really, truly excited about retirement planning, and doing so can help motivate you to set and reach goals for a better future and find answers to those big questions for yourself. (Good luck getting that excited about mattress rotating.)

Wherever you are in the process of planning for retirement, these tips will help you get excited about the great things you've already done for your future—and motivate you to keep working toward the retirement of your dreams.

Look at how far you've already come

Were you auto-enrolled in a 401(k) plan when you started your job? Do you have an emergency fund to support you and your family in case disaster strikes? Have you been saving up to buy a house?

If the answer to any of those is yes, you've already started working on your retirement, even without knowing it. Take pride in the steps you've already made toward a well-funded future. If you have a retirement account, check the balance and know you're that much closer to saving for retirement. That emergency fund means you won't have to dip into other savings (or debt) when times get tough. And that house, when you eventually buy it, will add to your net worth later to help put you closer to that magic retirement number, whatever it is. Knowing you've already done the hardest part—you've gotten started—is sure to boost your motivation to keep planning.

Play the long game

There's a reason you need to motivate yourself to plan for retirement: Planning for retirement is a long-term effort, without the relatively immediate rewards of saving for a fun vacation or splurging on a cool new gadget. Still, the flip side of that long-term effort is that you have time to start or adjust your efforts to help you reach your goals.

If you're feeling down about ever saving enough to retire, think about how many years you have until your preferred retirement age. Think about how many months are in those years, and calculate how much you should save each month to have enough, whatever that number is for you right now. Broken down over years, that big retirement number can feel much smaller. (And don't forget to account for interest or investment growth.) When you think about retirement in terms of a monthly goal repeated over and over again, rather than one decades-long goal, it becomes a more immediate effort—and that immediacy comes with its own motivational power.

Shift your perspective

It's easy to let retirement feel like something you have to do. Take a second to center yourself on what that ultimate goal is—our stress-busting meditation for retirement planning can help—and remind yourself that you're lucky to be able to set aside money for a happy, peaceful future.

Think about where you come from: Were your grandparents able to save for retirement? Were their parents? Being in a place where you can save for comfortable later years is not a guarantee, so recognizing that you've worked hard—or your parents and predecessors worked hard—to be in a place where you can plan for your future is motivational in itself. Every time you get blue about retirement planning, remind yourself that it's something you get to do, and let the motivation flow.

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