Can visualisation help with retirement planning?

Visualisation can help you reach your goals. So can it help with planning a comfortable retirement? Diana Bocco takes a look.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Happy retired couple on a yacht

Image source: Getty Images

Using visualisation to help your retirement planning might seem a little ‘out there’. But there are advantages to imagining yourself in the future that you might not expect. For starters, it can make the years to come seem more real. It can also encourage you to plan and save more for a better retirement. 

According to Tony Clark, senior propositions manager for pensions at St. James’s Place, “Retirement savers should picture themselves at an older age and imagine what it feels like to be free from any unwanted burdens around work.

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“Allowing time to really sense what life could be like once you achieve your financial goals, especially when motivation is flagging, can be an effective way of getting into the mindset for financial success.”


Why visualisation is important when planning retirement

For most people, retirement planning means planning for a future that seems very far away. It’s especially hard to imagine making sacrifices now in order to have a good life 30 or 40 years down the road. So for many, spending money on the likes of a car now feels more rewarding than investing for a comfortable life after retirement.

“Humans have a tendency to prefer a small perk now rather than a larger one later,” Clark explains. “The longer people expect to wait for the larger sum of money, the more irrational and impulsive they become and, increasingly, people opt for the smaller amount today. Psychologists call this ‘temporal myopia’, an inability to fully consider the future outcomes of choices.”

When it comes to retirement planning, people also struggle to imagine themselves decades into the future as old people. Clark adds, “One powerful method that can help in overcoming these barriers to reaching retirement goals is to use the visualisation techniques that elite sportspeople employ to boost their motivation.”  

How visualisation works

Visualisation techniques have a long tradition in professional sports. Muhammad Ali’s quote, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it,” is a good example of how successful people use visualisation to push themselves to achieve bigger things. The same approach can be used when planning your retirement.

According to Forbes, visualising success can increase your chances of achieving it. The technique can also reduce your stress during the process you go through to get there.


Visualisation techniques to help with retirement planning

Perhaps the easiest way to visualise your retirement is to create a vision board. All you need is a large piece of card and lots of magazines. You can then find images or quotes that represent how you imagine your retirement will be.

This could be photos of holidays, possessions or feelings (relaxation, peace, etc.). Then put the board where you can frequently see it so that the images are always present.

You could also work on retirement planning by writing daily affirmations. Every morning, write down a couple of things that you want to be true by the time you retire. Examples include, “I am only 50 and I’m retired” or “I live in a beautiful home with a large garden.” This can put you in the right mood to start the day, and it provides the right vision for the future. 

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