Staying Focused On Your Retirement Goals

Retirement Income Planning, Calgary

Keep your eyes on the prize

The year was 2009. The month was February. The financial crisis had recently happened. Things were a little bleak - similar to now. We decided as a family to go on a cruise from Long Beach, California. The flights were too expensive so we jumped in the car and drove. After a couple of days, we are on the Carnival ship and heading out to sea. What a glorious feeling. Only days prior, we were in the middle of winter and now we are in the middle of the ocean with warm breezes blowing in the air. Enjoying great food and entertainment. Everything was going great and then we landed in Puerto Vallarta and it all went sideways.

As we walked unto shore we were met by a guy who had a "great deal" for us. He would transport us to one of the finest new resorts where we could relax for the day and enjoy full access to the amenities, beverages, free food, boogie boards, and a beautiful beach. All we had to do was attend a short 90-minute presentation. We jumped in the cab and we were on our way. What a deal!

After touring the great resort we were treated to a meal and a presentation. Not so bad, but after 90 minutes we were looking for the exits. We relayed how we were not interested and the more we resisted the more they pressured. After several hours I became rather indignant and we finally got out of the place. We never got to enjoy the resort. Only spent a few minutes on the beach, and eventually had to figure out the local bus system and get ourselves back to the marina to board the safety of the cruise ship. It ruined our day.

All in all, we had a great cruise, but this detour cost us a lot of time and wasted emotional energy. I am telling this story because most of us do it in our lives all of the time. We go on needless, costly, draining, detours - because we lose sight of what really matters - our values and our goals.

Allow me to explain.

Real estate. Downsizing to a more expensive home. At the end of the day, a home is a place to live. Just think of the evolution of a dwelling place. My grandparents raised 13 children in a space where most people today park their vehicles. The average home in the '50s was 850 square feet. Today it's more like 2200 square feet and in many cases, much larger. The endless cycle of more. We need more space to store our stuff. Stuff to put our stuff on and stuff to put our stuff in. The storage business is a big business because people need to pay more money so that they can have more space to store more stuff.

Retirement. Every day you delay starting retirement you are trading time for money. You are making the wrong assumption that you have an unlimited amount of time. You don't. A few more dollars so that you can have more peace of mind and a larger nest egg to draw from, or leave the kids.

Investments. Buying. Selling. Doing nothing. Changing. Look at this great investment with huge returns. If I buy it I can make money faster and I'll be able to retire sooner. 

Better job. If I can get a new job with a higher salary I can buy a bigger home and pay it off faster. Better job. Better pay. The higher the pay the more they expect you to work. More work may equal more money, but it all comes with a cost.

Vehicles. I need a more expensive car to park in the garage. I talked with a guy recently who has a nice fancy car and the monthly payment is $1400/month. And it only takes premium gas! 

The unsatisfiable thirst for more is unquenchable. Why? To impress others. To feel good about ourselves. To fill an empty void.

Making smart choices with our money means there is a direct link between our goals and values and what we do with the money we have.

Think of the times you have made stupid choices with your money. When you examine it you discover that it was based on a violation of your goals and values. You got swept up in the moment. Made a spontaneous choice. 

What makes you happy? What brings you the greatest joy and pleasure in life? Who do you enjoy being with the most? What does that cost? What you choose to do with your money is your choice - it's your money. 

The shortest distance between 2 locations is the one with fewer detours. As you look down the road what do you want to be doing in a year or two from now? Where do you want to be? Who do you want to be with? This is why it's so important to set some goals and regularly re-evaluate what's important to you about money, retirement, family, your health, your future.

What is the point of planning?

So that you can reach your goals. If you want to lose weight and get in shape - hire a personal trainer. If you want to have a great wedding - hire a professional wedding planner. If you want to be an Olympian athlete - hire a personal coach. If you want to have a successful retirement, pay fewer taxes, build wealth, preserve the wealth, retire on time, reach your goals - hire a retirement income planner who can keep you from harming yourself. Get your total financial house in order. Invest and stay invested. Maximize your opportunities. Minimize tax and losses. Make good financial decisions with your money and enjoy your life. Avoid costly detours. Keep your eyes on the prize.

One of our values is family and one of our goals is to take the whole family on a trip each year for the next 20 years. We recently went on the first of those trips.  A one-week All-inclusive resort in Mexico. We had one of those joining suites with a huge shared patio overlooking the beach and the ocean. As we arrived on that evening and we all walked out unto the patio and the warm breeze that swept in from the ocean met us, I thought to myself. Seven years prior, we stood on a similar patio at this same resort and envisioned a day that we would stand here with our family and experience this together. Well done, Willis. You made it happen and at this very moment, you just reached a goal. You are experiencing a value you hold dear. Well done. It was priceless!

Our son Caleb and his wife, Ayla captured it in a YouTube video.
Click here to watch. Skip ahead to the 7-minute mark to see the footage of our trip. Warning: cute grandkids overload.

When your values are clear, your decisions are easy! 


Our business is all about helping clients declutter their lives by first getting their total financial house in order and providing the clarity and confidence to retire sooner than later. You can learn more about our process by clicking here.


Fee-only Retirement Income, Investment, & Tax Planning

Willis J Langford BA, MA, CFP

Nancy Langford CRS

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