Retirement is not as easy as it looks. Everyone has retirement dreams, but not many people spend time on the nitty-gritty details. If the word ‘retirement’ conjures thoughts of an older you relishing travel, volunteer work, and time with friends and family, that’s great. Or, perhaps, your version of retirement shows a younger you working part-time or even starting a new career or business. Either way, you have more work to do.
Retirement requires rigorous thinking and planning. If you want to retire – and some people don’t – the 5-Ws can help you begin to develop a fully articulated plan for retirement.
Many Americans learned the 5-Ws in school as a technique for writing stories. Essentially, that is what you need to do. You need to write a richly detailed story about your retirement. Answering who, what, where, when, and why can help ensure that your retirement will meet your expectations.
There are no right or wrong answers. In fact, your answers may change over time. However, once you know what retirement looks like, I can help you build a plan for ‘how’ to get there.
Who will be retiring? If you and your spouse have a significant age difference, you may retire at different times. That can affect a variety of choices, including the Social Security claiming strategy you want to pursue.
It also can be helpful to think about who you want to spend time with during retirement. Your ideal may be finding a community of like-minded people of similar age, or it could be spending more time with family and friends. If children and grandchildren are integral parts of your retirement story, you may want to live near them or settle in a place they want to visit.
What will retirement be like? What will bring you happiness and satisfaction during retirement? You may be passionate about animals, family, the environment, art, children, religion, or something else entirely. When you know the answer, describe how you would like to pursue it during retirement. Start with the big picture and then delve into the details. Thoughtfully answering ‘what’ may lead to a second career or a new direction in life.
Where will you live? Some retirees are happy staying in their hometowns. Others move to new cities or countries to seek adventure or to benefit from a lower cost-of-living, warmer weather, or more favorable taxes. If you plan to move, make sure to carefully evaluate the possibilities by visiting multiple times in different seasons.
When will you retire? Results from a recent survey by Natixis Investment Managers suggest that retirement age is generational with baby boomers planning to retire by age 65; generation X by age 62 and generation Y by age 60.  Depending on your own circumstances, however, you may choose to retire either earlier or later than average.
Why are you retiring? This may seem like an easy question, but it can be the most difficult to answer. Exploring your motivation and starting retirement with a sense of purpose may help you avoid the retirement blues. In a Harvard Business Review article entitled, ‘Why Retirement Is a Flawed Concept,’ Neil Pasricha wrote, “…Dig deep into your natural passions to find a second act that aligns with your values. We know there are far more problems and opportunities on this spinning planet than there are people to help with them, so go solve some!” 
Now for the HOW. Answering the 5-Ws can help you draft a more detailed and realistic outline of your retirement story. Once you know what retirement could be, the next step is to build a plan that gives you the resources to make your retirement a reality.
Sources: 2021 Nataxis Global Survey of Individual Investors
 Neil Pasricha. ‘Why Retirement Is A Flawed Concept.’ Harvard Business Review, April 13, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2022. [https://hbr.org/2016/04/why-retirement-is-a-flawed-concept]