October 11, 2021

Could a trick used in golf and other sports – visualization – work for retirement saving?

If you’re a golfer, you are probably familiar with the concept of visualization. You imagine your drive swinging gently into the middle of the fairway, landing, and rolling forward. The idea is that with that thought in your mind, your brain will deliver that desired swing result.

Could such an idea be helpful for retirement savers?

An article in Marketwatch suggests that yes, maybe it could work.

“Visualization is often used to boost confidence, reduce anxiety and take a few mental practice runs before we try something for real,” writes Jonathan Clements in the Marketwatch article. “Think about high-pressure situations like making a speech or interviewing for a job. By imagining these events in detail beforehand, we’re likely to perform better when it’s time for the actual thing.”

He argues that for savers, “the biggest benefit of visualization is increased motivation.”

“It can help us overcome our hard-wired tendency to favour today and shortchange our future self,” he notes, “while also helping us to get a better handle on what we truly want from our money.” Love the idea of looking after one’s future self!

So how do we get this working?

Clements suggests that you “picture a goal,” such as retirement, “in as much detail as possible.” The focus should not be on “winning” the goal (or even on not winning) but on the steps that need to be taken along the way to success, he writes.

As you fill in the details of how you want to achieve your goal, “the goal will become ever more real, its emotional intensity will grow – and you’ll be more motivated to go after it,” Clements writes. He quotes psychologist Jennice Vilhauer as saying “being able to do something in your head, greatly increases your chances of being able to do it in real life.”

For long-term saving, visualization is a great way to combat the “allure of immediate spending” which has such a powerful hold on most of us, Clements says.

The article concludes with a caveat – be careful what you wish for! Even if your dream is to save for retirement, be prepared for finding out that retirement itself isn’t what you thought it would be like.

This article makes some very good points. Few of us are organized enough or perceptive enough to accurately imagine, in advance, what retirement will be like. You don’t know until you’re there.

But the steps towards saving for retirement are easier to imagine. Join any pension program your employer offers. If there isn’t one to join, you need to develop one of your own.

What a pension plan does is to put away a portion of your pay for your future use, off the top of the cheque and before you have a chance to spend it. That money is then quietly invested, and typically every time you get a raise, you kick a little more into the pension. When it’s time to collect it, you contact the pension plan and learn your options for receiving income from your savings.

If you are a pension do-it-yourselfer, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, marking its 35th year of operations. They have all the tools to set you on the path of retirement saving, making it an automatic, painless process – and easy to visualize.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


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