Creating a Clear Vision for the Future

How do you envision your retirement years?
How long is your bucket list?

If you’re like most of the baby boomer generation, your list is long and your dreams are big. There are things you want to experience and accomplish, places you want to go and people you want to spend time with. You look forward to setting your own schedule and filling your days with all the things that bring meaning and enjoyment to your life.

As a financial planner, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing just how vibrant life can be when individuals step into this exciting stage of life. I’ve also seen the disappointment that can come when individuals encounter unplanned obstacles that sidetrack their dreams and plans. It doesn’t have to be that way.

This guide was created to help you create a retirement roadmap that factors in detours and changes in direction, while still allowing you to live the most rewarding retirement possible.

Let’s get started.


Have you ever ran out of time to accomplish all you had on your to-do list for the day? I find that occurs often. It happens most often when I don’t take the time to map out my day and insert some buffer time for the unexpected. The same can happen when it comes to checking off your bucket list items.

We deal with limited resources; some more limited than others. We only have 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. How many weeks, months and years we have ahead of us is unknown. That reality is just as true at 20 as it is at 60, but once we reach the magical 6-0, we are more conscious of the uncertainty of the time allotted for us. This means that setting priorities is important when planning your retirement years.

Let’s start the process with an inventory of all your dreams and hopes for your retirement years. We’ll break them down into three categories: passions, people, place.


For many of you, people and place may also fit under your passions. For this exercise, we’re going to ask you to set them aside. Instead, let’s focus on the things you have been looking forward to experiencing or accomplishing once you had the time and freedom from responsibilities to do so.

Here’s a list of some items that may or may not be on your personal passion list:

  1. Pursuit of creative arts: painting, pottery, mixed-media, theater, music, writing, etc.
  2. Travel: Exploration of places near or far.
  3. Community service: This may be hands-on volunteering or serving on the board of one or more non-profits.
  4. Athletics/fitness: Do you have fitness or athletic goals for this next leg of your journey? Are there golf courses you have yet to conquer?
  5. Education: Now may be the time you choose to take classes or college courses that aren’t career focused, but simply for the joy of learning.

Make a list of all the personal passion items that you would like included in your vision for the future. Don’t leave anything out, even if you have no idea how it would fit in with all the rest. If you have a partner in your life, ask them to create their own list. You might be surprised at some of the things you didn’t know existed as a dream within the other person’s heart.


As exciting as it can be to dream about pursuing our passions, people will always play an irreplaceable part in living a rewarding life. Those people are often family members and long-time friends, but not always. Sometimes the people we envision ourselves connected to during our retirement years also include brand new faces and relationships. As you imagine the years ahead, who are the people you hope to be spending more time with than you have in the past?

  1. Children and grandchildren.
  2. Parents and siblings.
  3. A new spouse or partner.
  4. Extended family.
  5. Long-lost friends.
  6. Current neighbors and friends.
  7. New communities of neighbors/friends.
  8. People of different cultures and languages.

Now, make your list of people. Who are the people you want to share your life with during this new era of freedom? As you compile your list of people, think about what will be required to make these experiences a reality. Will it require travel on your part? Will it require hosting people at your home or elsewhere? What are your dreams? Is it annual family vacations with kids and grandkids? Is it living in different areas of the country or the world for periods of time? Don’t think about the obstacles to your dreams. We’ll deal with those later. Right now, let’s paint the picture of your future how you would envision it, if nothing stood in the way. Again, if you have a partner, have them make their own people list so you can compare.


We’ve explored what your passions are, the things you’d like to do and experience during your retirement years. We’ve given consideration to the people and relationships that you want to be a part of your life to share those experiences. Now let’s look at place. Where will you live and what kind of home or homes would fit best in your vision for the future.

The expectations for place can be as varied as passions and people. Consider some of these options and which ones appeal to you and fit with your vision for the future.

  1. Staying in your current family home as long as possible.
  2. A summer home and a winter home in different parts of the country.
  3. A city home and a country retreat.
  4. Full-time or part-time RV living.
  5. Moving closer to family members.
  6. Caring for elderly parents in your home or theirs.
  7. Shared housing with a friend or relative.
  8. Assisted living or a senior living community.

You may see yourself living in more than one of these places, particularly as time progresses. You might start out traveling full-time in an RV for a few years and then decide you need a change to something more permanent. Life changes in the people who are important to you or in your own circumstances may dictate changes regarding place. Write out what you see as the ideal for the immediate years ahead and then further into the future.


Now that you have mapped out your vision of the most rewarding retirement imaginable, it’s time to turn this utopian landscape into a bit of a Monopoly game board. Your life of leisure, adventure and fulfilling dreams will come with the normal limitations of life. Your resources – time, finances, fitness – are not inexhaustible. In addition, obstacles may arise when you land on the unpredictable square of Chance.


Limited resources and unexpected obstacles are the two biggest reasons for mapping out a retirement plan. Time is out of your control, except in the respect that you can choose how you allocate your allotted hours, days and weeks. Your fitness level offers you a little more control. Healthy choices will work in your favor both in fitness and sometimes even in adding to your time bank. Your financial resources may seem the most finite; but, when wisely managed, they can be expanded and conserved to better serve your priorities and give you the best of all that you hope and dream for the future.


These are the things we’d rather not think about, but need to consider in making a realistic plan for the future. By planning for the possibility of these unexpected situations, we can transform obstacles from stationary roadblocks to detours that only slow you down rather than bring you to a complete halt in your retirement plan.

What are some of the obstacles you might encounter?

  1. Loss of a partner.
  2. Physical illness or disabilities for yourself or your partner.
  3. Assisted living or long-term care facility costs.
  4. Changes in insurance or financial resources.


While none of us knows the future, we can certainly expect that obstacles will “pop up.” But there’s good news – knowing what you want in terms of passions, people and place dramatically increases your ability to succeed. The idea of developing a comprehensive plan can sound intimidating – we’re bombarded with financial information daily – but there are a couple of simple strategies that can help.

Take it one step at a time. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.” If you’ve completed the process outlined in this guide, you have a pretty clear picture of your ideal life – that’s a big first step.

Work backward to determine how to get there from here. Ask yourself, what are some small steps that I can take, in each area, to get closer to the people, passions, and places that are important to me.

Get a coach. Professional sports are a BIG business. But although many of the individual athletes are paid millions of dollars, no team owner would put them on the field without a coach. Even professional golfers use swing coaches. Coaches are important because they offer two things that are very valuable: perspective and accountability.

Gain perspective. Financial decisions ALWAYS elicit an emotional response.  Knowing that, it’s wise to get another opinion to make sure you aren’t missing the forest for the trees. It can be very valuable to have a second set of eyes look over your situation to make sure you aren’t overlooking anything.

Tailored accountability. Often, the solution you need may be simple, but not easy. A financial advisor can serve as a coach to help you set out a game plan and, more importantly, support you in implementing it.

The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. There is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue or forecasts will occur. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James.


About Chip Munn

Managing Partner, SWS Senior Wealth Advisor, RJFS Chip is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Clemson University, where he earned a degree in education and was selected as an Academic All American by USA Today. He began his career in finance as a financial consultant with Wheat First Union in 1998. He specializes in retirement and education planning and the transfer of wealth among generations. Chip lives in Florence with his family. Follow Chip on LinkedIn.