Saturday, April 20, 2024

How to Break Through the Top 3 Mental Roadblocks to Retirement Success

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.

There are all kinds of things we say we want to do, but very often we don’t get them done.

We say we want to exercise more, eat better, read “War and Peace,” or develop an adequate plan for a secure financial future… But, not everyone succeeds.

Too often we experience mental roadblocks that stand in the way of achieving our goals.

Apparently, it is not enough to simply set a goal and want to achieve it.

Cognitive psychologist Amanda Crowell suggests that there are three kinds of mental roadblocks that stop us from achieving goals like the ones listed here.

3 Reasons You Aren’t Doing What You Say You Will Do

Woman thinking about retirement
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Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist as well as a professional coach and comedian. She spent three years studying motivation. (You can hear her full Ted Talk here.)

Her insight is that we must move beyond mindset-driven defensive failure and into productive failure in order to succeed.

Basically, Crowell has observed that most people have a mindset that anticipates failure which prevents them from doing what they need to do to achieve their goals.

She instead advocates that we embrace the potential for failure as part of the process of achieving what we want.

In the following, we go through Crowell’s three roadblocks to achieving goals and discuss how they relate to financial success and retirement planning.

More importantly, we will show you how you can easily overcome these barriers.

Success Roadblock #1: You Think Failure Is Failure (and Not an Opportunity to Learn)

Senior man pondering a question
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It may appear that you simply can’t do better.

Perhaps you have really really good rational to think that you can not plan a secure retirement. Here is the most common reason people think they can’t do achieve a secure future:

  • I haven’t saved enough money!

And, it is true, most people haven’t saved enough money. But, you know what? Most people retire one way or another. There are ways to make it work.

You can learn from your failure and start to inch toward success.

How to Overcome the Idea That You Can’t Do Better

Retired man painting at an easel
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If you think you can’t do something, you are going to have to start to go ahead and embrace failure. Change the idea that failure means the end and instead see failure as a beginning.

Failure IS the success. Failure means you are trying and trying is what is important. Trying, learning from failures, and continuing to try are the keys to overcoming the block that you can not do it.

For example, last night my kid was trying to snuff out a candle by throwing playing cards at it. It is a trick and he used to be pretty good at it. But, last night, he was failing.

Rather than getting frustrated, he tried changing the angle and saw he got closer. He threw less hard and saw he got closer. He kept learning from what wasn’t working and soon enough he succeeded.

He embraced the failures and learned from them. So, each failure was, in actuality, a success. Each failure got him closer to success.

It is important to think of each failure as just a step toward progress. It is the effort — the fact that you are doing anything at all — that is important, not the outcome.

Success Roadblock #2: Thinking You Just Don’t Know How

Frustrated man worried about money and finances for retirement while looking at his laptop
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If you are in your 50s or 60s and you don’t already have a detailed written plan for your retirement, you might think that it is too late and that you are simply not good at personal finance, so why start now?

You probably have a lifetime of financial habits – maybe some good ones and probably quite a few bad ones.

And, you might even think that it is impossible to upend 30-50 years of how you view yourself and money.

However, it is really not too late.

How to Overcome Thinking That You Don’t Know How

Happy retirees
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Crowell suggests a simple solution: “Find people like you (people who are struggling, but want to do better) and share your concerns with them.”

Look, you might think you are the ONLY one concerned about retirement finances. I promise you, you are not.

Research shows that financial IQ is ridiculously low – no matter wealth and education levels. Shockingly few people actually know what they are doing with their money. (Take a financial literacy quiz.)

However, many people find that it is too uncomfortable to talk about finances with close friends — even if you know that they are in the same boat as you. If this rings true, then do anything you can to change your own financial identity.

See the previous tips about doing something — anything — and feel proud of taking steps to educate yourself about money.

The reality is that reading an article about retirement or creating a written retirement plan IS MORE than most people do! So, if you are here, you ARE good at this – better than most anyway!

Block #3: I Don’t Want to Plan My Retirement

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Lots of people want to retire. Far fewer people want to plan retirement — especially creating a financial plan.

Sure, you know you should do it. But, you don’t want to be uncomfortable.

You don’t want to discover that maybe you can’t retire in the way you want to. You have too many other interesting things to do.

How to Overcome a Lack of Desire

senior couple drinking coffee on computer
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In her Ted Talk, Crowell argues that too many people are focused on extrinsic motivators — not intrinsic ones. And, this is a big mistake.

Examples of extrinsic reasons for planning retirement are “you know you should” or “you think other people are doing it and you ought to plan also.” However, extrinsic reasons are scientifically proven to be bad motivators.

It is better to focus on intrinsic motivations for planning retirement. Crowell says that intrinsic reasons are “reasons that come from inside of you, your interests, your curiosity, or… your long-term hopes and dreams.”

She continues, “If the work you want to do is hard, there will be urges in the moment to quit, and it is intrinsic interest that keeps you focused on the steps you need to take.”

Think about these powerful examples of intrinsic motivators for having a retirement plan:

  • What do you want to do in retirement? How are these motivations impacted by your retirement finances?
  • Who will take care of you if you can’t fund adequate healthcare for yourself (and/or your spouse)?
  • How can you be sure that your money lasts as long as you do?

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