It can be fun daydreaming about what you are going to do once you retire.
The possibilities are endless: Travel the world. Play golf. Volunteer for one of your favorite causes. Spend lots of time with grandkids.
But does anyone really know if the items on a retirement bucket list have staying power? Will the retirement plans envisioned by a 45-year-old or a 55-year-old be attractive for that person when he or she is 60 or 65?
Research suggests that there is a very real possibility that retirement preferences, as well as other desires, will change over the years.
A fascinating article in Science magazine suggests that while we recognize that our preferences, personality and values have changed when looking back on our lives, we have a difficult time believing that we will continue to evolve any further.
The Science article, which is entitled The End of History Illusionopens PDF file , says that people of all ages make the same mistake of concluding that all the changes that they have experienced as individuals have pretty much stopped at whatever their current age is. They assume that who they are now will be who they are 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. People also believe that their tastes in all manner of things will also not change in future years. That’s probably one reason why twenty-somethings don’t worry about getting tattoos that will last their lifetimes.
In conducting the study, psychologists from Harvard, University of Virginia and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona measured the personalities, values and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68. They also asked them to reflect on how they had changed in the past decade and to predict how much they would change in the next 10 years. All age groups agreed they had changed a lot but would change little in the future.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This end of history illusion had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences…History, it seems, is always ending today.
This tendency to underestimate change can bedevil individuals’ decision-making. Based on the research, it would make sense for individuals not to become too beholden to a certain vision of retirement especially if they are at least 10 years away from retiring.