(b)Mused: Just Do It

July 8, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR (b)lines) – Over the past holiday weekend I went whitewater rafting for the first time.

To say I was afraid is putting it mildly. I had images of me flying out of the raft and breaking my back on the rocks. Every time I thought about the trip, my breathing would get quick and shallow.  

But, I had promised my best friend that I would go; the trip was scheduled and paid for. So, every time I would feel that fear, I would think of myself as a robot, moving through the trip automatically.  

The trip was fun. My cheek muscles hurt from smiling and laughing so much. I want to do it again.  

Oddly I thought, that is how it is for many when it comes to saving for retirement. It is not as bad as employees imagine, though there are most certainly times when the ride is bumpy and they might get wet.  Sometimes it’s just hard to get started – this is why auto enrollment is so successful.  Some may be reluctant to get started; they might be intimidated by the fund choices, perhaps even the decision about how much to save, but once they get started, most realize the result is actually something they appreciate.  

I had no idea before I climbed into the raft what the journey was going to be like, what the river had in store for me, and it’s just as hard for many workers to envision the impact of saving. Sure, there are calculators that show the impact on take home pay after deferring to a retirement plan, and many sponsors and providers use a message to participants showing how the savings equal to the cost of a daily cup of coffee can add up. But, a plan provider attending the recent PLANSPONSOR National Conference shared with me the message they were sending – the cost of waiting to save.  

However, I think there’s no better message we can give to workers than to “just do it.”