Retirement Is A Choice

Published on February 16, 2017
By Olivia and Kerry Straine

As performance management experts, we know that there is one behavior responsible for every single thing that happens in a person’s life, and that is choice. Choice is the act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two of more possibilities.

Experts warn that only a minority of baby boomers will be able to afford the retirement they want. Are we to be comforted knowing that Social Security will keep 22 million Americans barely above the poverty line and that most people 65 and older will receive the majority of their income from Social Security? It is frightening to think that without Social Security benefits 40% of elderly Americans will have incomes below the poverty line and with Social Security 9% still will live in poverty.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Americans fall into one of five retirement personality profiles that show how people make choices about retirement. The five profiles are:

  • The Planner: Twenty-seven percent of Americans fall into this group and 93% of Planners have begun to save for their retirement, however, 23% haven’t determined how much they need to save and 47% haven’t thought about long term care.
  • The Saver: Twenty-three percent of Americans are Savers, yet 48% of Savers have not determined how much they need to save.
  • The Struggler: Sixteen percent of Americans are Strugglers, aptly named, as it is a struggle for them to save for retirement given their day-to-day financial responsibilities. Twenty-five percent of Strugglers have not begun to save for retirement and 46% of them have not determined how much they need to save.
  • The Impulsive: Eighteen percent of Americans are sporadic savers and get sidetracked easily and often in this effort as more than half of Impulsives blow it by spending even when they hadn’t planned to buy anything. Twenty-two percent of this group have not begun to save for retirement and 42% have not determined how much they need to save.
  • The Denier: Fifteen percent of Americans are Deniers and feel that planning for retirement is hopeless. Less than one-half of Deniers have even begun to save for retirement, nor attempted to determine how much they need to save.

Understanding your retirement personality profile can help you identify limiting beliefs and ineffective behaviors so that you can make the choice to begin actively participating in decisions that will shape the final chapter of your life. The retirement income system will come under increasing stress in the years ahead, with Social Security facing a modest shortfall over the next 75 years and Disability Insurance facing insolvency now.

To ensure that you begin making decisions on a daily basis that support retirement in the manner and style of your choosing, you must begin today with a clear vision, not just for retirement, but for your life, with realistic goals that will enable you to realize your dreams through the end of your life, not just through the end of your career.

Retirement can and should be more than one possibility, a “lifted out of poverty” status provided by the government, it could be altogether another possibility that would be a reflection of all you have worked for, the legacy chapter of your life. John-Paul Sartre said, “We are our choices.” What do yours say about the possibility of retirement in your future?