“Goals that are not written down are just dreams.” This great quote by Fitzhugh Dobson is often used to help motivate people to begin the process of goal setting.

For some of us, the thought of writing down goals for retirement is overwhelming. If that describes you, relax. Right now it’s time to dream.

This is the first post in a series called Ten things to do ten years till retirement. Make sure to follow RetireGenx to find out what the other nine things are.

If you’re part of Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980), you can no longer avoid the topic of retirement. You may feel young at heart and keep telling yourself retirement is a long way off, but the truth is it’ll be here before you know it.

Retirement is closer for Gen X than you might think:

  • If you were born in the 60s, retirement is only 15 to 20 years away.
  • If you were born in the early 70s, retirement is only 20 to 25 years away.
  • If you were born in the late 70s, retirement is only 25 to 30 years away.

That may sound like a long way off, but these final years leading into retirement could be the most critical for you. Steps you take today could mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and a miserable one.

Retirement dreaming exercise

Here’s a little exercise to help you begin wrapping your mind around the notion of retirement.

This week, carve at least an hour of alone time to ponder a few questions about your future. It may help to go to your “happy place”. Remove yourself from all distractions so you can reflect on your own thoughts. If you’re retirement decisions will be made with a spouse or partner, you may want to include them in this exercise.

Dream like there’s nothing holding you back. It may be helpful to close your eyes and play some upbeat music. Start by telling yourself “Retirement is my time” and start to think like it.

Ask yourself these questions, then visualize your answers:

  • When do I want to retire?
  • What will I look like and feel like?
  • Who will I want to spend my time with?
  • Where will I want to live?
  • Where will I want to go?
  • What will I want to accomplish?
  • How do I want others to remember me?

That’s it. You’re done for now. That wasn’t so hard, was it? If this exercise got your juices flowing, I challenge you to take another few minutes and jot down your reactions to the questions above.

Goals that are not written down are just dreams. ~ Fitzhugh Dobson

Did you write anything down? Bravo! Now you have retirement goals.

Next up, we’ll start focusing on money by estimating how much Social Security income you can expect to have in retirement (U.S. residents).

Later on, we’ll dig into other ways to prepare for retirement, such as making sure you’ll have more money in retirement by investing smarter and getting rid of debt. You can do it!

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Questions, thoughts, worries? Sound off in the comments box.