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What needs to be in your retirement plan?

Written by Marianne Heron with Paul Britton

There is no one single recipe – after all you are unique! The main thing is what fires your imagination and gives you an exciting view of all the future possibilities, something to really aim for. And the next thing is getting there.


At this stage your shared retirement plan is just a list of ideas and dreams and unless you have a plan of action, they are going to remain just that. If you are going to make them come true then one of the steps to success is to set written goals, which act as signposts on your journey guiding you to where you want to be.

An interesting survey was carried out at Yale University USA, Students were asked umpteen questions, and one of them was whether they had set goals or not. Only 10% had, but they were 90% more successful than the rest put together, only 3% had written them down and again that small percentage were 90% more successful that the other 7%. So if you have never set written goals, perhaps now is the time to do so!

Here is an example of a short term goal.

Goal. Lose weight before school reunion on 4th October.

Target. Get waistline to 100cm (suit size) by 15th September.

Actions.  Go to gym twice per week. Cut out alcohol. Revise eating plan. Have a progress chart on the fridge. Put picture on fridge of when you could wear your suit comfortably.

Here is the same goal but for a longer term. 

Goal. Maintain waistline at a constant size.

Target. Keep Waistline within 95-100cm.

Actions.  Measure waistline once per week. Adopt a change in lifestyle. Convert to low carbohydrate  diet. Have a regular exercise programme. Go for regular medical check-ups.

A goal is not a vague fanciful wish. It is a statement in writing with a firm date describing some measureable change, gain or achievement. It is a way of turning dreams into reality.


Good goals should be able to withstand the eSMART test.

ECONOMICAL - Can you afford it?

SPECIFIC - Is it clear as to what you want to achieve?

MEASURABLE - Set targets that can be measured easily.

REALISTIC - Can you realistically achieve your target?

SENSITIVE - Deadlines need to be realistic.


Some guidelines for goals:

  • Make a list. List all the things that you will need to achieve your goals. Each of your priority goals should have actions required to achieve them, a budget (particularly for bigger capital items), a deadline and a measureable target. It may be advisable to divide your goals into short and long term.
  • Write them down. The steps that you need to achieve your goals.
  • Be flexible. The goal should be in the general direction you want. For shorter term goals it will be more specific, but longer term goals need to be revised and upgraded as circumstances change.
  • Chunk down. Break a large goal down into manageable chunks. For instance break the writing of that book up into separate tasks, developing the plot, outlining the characters, sending a draft treatment to the publisher, writing x number of words a day.
  • Have tangible and intangible goals. Not all goals can be concrete and measureable. It is also important to have intangible goals for your inner life and relationships.
  • Make sure your goals are in harmony. No use having a goal to spend as much time on the beach as is possible and to start a business at the same time.

Visualise your goal. Imagine what it will be like to have started on your new life, to have written that book, to see what the cover will look like; see it on the bookstand in Easons. Imagine what it will feel like when you have achieved it. Alternatively, how it will be to fit into those trousers, wear the other clothes that don’t fit, be a size 12 instead of 14 or whatever. Put a picture of yourself on the fridge as you would like to see yourself. Ask yourself what is the difference that will make the difference? Keep reminding yourself of the positive benefits that will reward you when you get there.

Set yourself a weekly schedule with daily to-do lists. Try and do something every day, it is probably best to deal with things a bit at a time!

This excerpt was taken from Rewire Don’t Retire, sponsored by Irish Life and Active Retirement Ireland. You can download the full guide HERE.