It’s tempting to think about retirement in terms of investments and savings rates. But that’s grabbing the wrong end of the stick. Your retirement success begins with a concrete goal.

No two retirees will end up with the same goal. Consider the standard of living you want, the living arrangements that appeal to you, and your healthcare needs to develop a realistic plan.

We all want the highest standard of living possible. But unless your last name is Windsor you must think in trade-offs. Your standard of living need not be exactly the same from your peak earning years until the day of your death.

You can take advantage of your relative youth and health and spend more in early retirement. Maybe you don’t mind working past the standard age of 65. This can free up money for mini-retirements along the way while you are even younger and healthier. Others have made lifestyle trade-offs and lived to tell the tale.

Your shelter choices can have the biggest impact on how well you enjoy your retirement. Releasing the grip on the family home can open the door for exciting – and affordable – choices. Right-sizing isn’t the only path. A floating retirement or the expat lifestyle might boost the fun of retirement while dropping the cost.

There is one thing that can suck the joy out of retirement evens as it sucks the dollars out of your retirement fund – the cost of healthcare. Medicare is not going to get any cheaper, so your planning should include a realistic assessment of what it will cost when you retire.

Before you choose a retirement portfolio, rethink retirement. Make a plan that reflects your reality and your hopes. Then you’ve got something to save for, a concrete goal.