Picture This

Ross Menke

HAVE YOU EVER considered what you want your retirement to look like? Not just generically, but in vivid detail? If you haven’t, I urge you to go through this exercise as you flesh out your financial goals.

Visualization is used mainly by athletes as they prepare for competition, so that they can get as close to the experience as possible before the competition starts. This was witnessed across the world when American skier Lindsey Vonn’s visualization routine was caught on camera before an Olympic race.

You can see just how deeply in tune she is with the course that she’s about to hurtle down at 60-plus miles per hour. Why is she doing this? So she’s as prepared mentally for her race as possible. She is going through each turn by memory over and over, so that when she faces them in real life, she doesn’t find any surprises.

Vonn explained it this way: “I always visualize the run before I do it. By the time I get to the starting gate, I’ve run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I’ll take the turns.”

This is how I prepared for golf tournaments while competing through high school and college. Before each round, I would take 10 to 15 minutes to close my eyes and visualize each hole and each shot I would face in the coming hours of competition. That way, I was prepared mentally for the challenges the day would throw at me. When a challenge did arise, I had already experienced it in my mind and was much more confident in my ability to overcome it.

Visualizing success is equally important when it comes to retirement and other financial goals. What’s the point in saving your hard-earned dollars for the future if you don’t know what it’s for? By establishing goals and visualizing that future experience, you’ll feel in real time what lies ahead.

To get started with visualization, write down your goals in great detail. Once your specific goals are established, write down how achieving those goals will make you feel. When you’re retired, what will your day be like from morning until evening? What challenges are you likely to face? Write down everything from how the coffee will taste, to what car you will be driving, to the clothes you will be wearing on the golf course.

Once you have this written down, spend another 10 minutes or so visualizing what you have just written down and truly feel the experience. Result? You will be crystal clear on what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll feel when it happens. Visualization is a wonderful way to improve clarity, change behaviors and propel you toward your audacious goals.

Ross Menke is a Certified Financial Planner. He strives to provide clear and concise advice, so his clients can achieve their life goals. Ross’s previous articles include Rewriting the ScriptPaper ChaseStart Small and Never Retire. Follow Ross on Twitter @RossVMenke.

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