As the developer of our FedImpact Retirement Workshops, I’ve also analyzed the challenging retirement scenarios for thousands of federal and postal employees – helping them to avoid costly mistakes, and highlighting opportunities for them to gain greater financial security in their retirement years.
I’d like to share with you the three planning commands that federal employees need to be aware of as they prepare to retire from federal service. These are the commands you can give yourself when it comes to financial planning and what impact each of these commands will have on your ultimate outcome in retirement.
The three planning commands are: sit, roll over and fetch.
Probably not what you were expecting, right? We share this concept in our retirement workshops because you’ll give yourself one of these three commands – consciously or subconsciously – when it is time to take action. For instance, after sitting through a workshop full of good education, what happens NEXT?
The command of “sit” is the idea that you keep the status quo because change is hard or its uncomfortable. It’s simply staying right where you’re at – likely because you’re scared. You never dig into your financial numbers to see what the real consequences are because it might be a little painful or scary. You cross your fingers and you hope that everything’ll work out; but once you retire, you look back with a tinge of regret and say, “What should I have done differently to be in a better position in retirement?” Any decision where regret is hardwired in doesn’t sound good at all.
The command of “roll over” is really the same as sit, but its where you pretend that you’re making progress so that you feel better. Under the “roll over” command, you go through the motions by saying things like, “I’ll think about it. I’m going to get around to doing that. Yeah, that’s important,” but you never get anywhere because you don’t actually make any decisions. We assume that what’s worked in the past will continue to work in the future, only to find out in retirement that’s not really the case at all. There’s still regret in this command, but it can be masked because there’s lots of activity in our thoughts but no real action taken.
The third command is “fetch,” and that’s the idea that you make proactive decisions that allow you to get the retirement that you want. In that effort, you have to be honest with yourself about the consequences of your decisions or your lack of decisions, because both have an impact on you. In this idea of fetching your retirement, you take fiscal responsibility for your own future, even if it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Perhaps you look to the past and acknowledge that you’re not where you want to be – that’s fair and brave. Then, you make the conscious decision to tighten up your bootstraps and make the hard decisions to get the retirement that you want. This allows you to reap the rewards of decisive and realistic planning – but it doesn’t happen overnight and it often takes hard work and sacrifice.
What you do “next” matters
These three mindsets are sometimes hard to sort through, simply because retirement and financial planning are big, overwhelming topics and you might not know where to start. Try not to be overwhelmed or too hard on yourself. The end goal is for you to be able to create your own financial future and live the retirement that you want – but doing so takes action on your part.
Hopefully, you’re not ready to sit or roll over – but ready to go fetch!