Did you know that you have an unconscious program running in the deepest recesses of your brain? This program tells you what to think, feel, and do as you age. Very few people can consciously control this program or know how to harness it to achieve their goals.
People think retirement planning is all about the “how” and the “when” and the “where.”
Retirement planning is really about the ““why,” the “what” and the “who.”
Why have you been saving for retirement all these years? What do you want life the next chapter of your life to be like? Who do you want to be as you grow older? What impact do you want your aging to have on your family?
Once you’ve answered those questions, the “what,” “where,” and “how” typically fall into place, especially when you have a research-based retirement planning system like the one I use with my clients.
The first step is to get to the bottom of the “why.”
Deep down inside your “why” are what I like to think of as “aging” scripts, those largely unconscious beliefs about aging. These internal scripts define your attitude about what growing older means to you, how you talk about it, and what kind of planning you do.
Your personal aging scripts can predict how you will plan for your final chapter in life. They will also predict how much inconvenience you create for family members during the process.
I bet you know at least one person who is refuses to plan ahead. Their aging script is “Live for today.” People with this aging script may have saved money for retirement, but that’s where the planning ends. They haven’t talked with their family about how they want to be cared for as they age or where the money to pay for that care will come from.
They don’t think it’s necessary. Their plan is to party like it’s 1999 and then die in their sleep.
Your aging script is also influenced by how you saw your family deal with the declining health of older family members. Many people in the “Live for today” crowd are the product of parents who had a retirement pension, but little else. As a result, they were forced to pick up the pieces when their parents became old and sick. They didn’t see their parents do anything beyond saving money, so why should they? Their kids will be there to pick up the pieces when their health fails, just as they had to figure things out for their parents.
The “Live for today” aging script seems fine in theory, but it’s not so good in practice. It’s the best way to end up forced into a nursing home when you’re too old or sick to live at home. It’s a great way to have your savings eaten up by unplanned long-term care costs. And it’s a great way to create massive burdens for your family, burdens that could handicap them for years to come.
What invisible aging scripts are driving you? Will they create the kind of future you want?
Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals. For more information, visit AgingOptions.com, LifePointLaw.com or call 877-762-4464.