When you're looking for stocks to add to your IRA, one of the things you should consider is --

Oh geez, just stop.


This IRA stuff. You're going to do the whole stupid asset allocation discussion again, aren't you?

Actually, no, there's something different I want to talk about. But what if I were? Why shouldn't I?

Because it's boring. I mean, we've heard it already. I've already stuffed my IRA full of different stocks. I've got my big name: Cash-cow pharma stocks that crank out dividends like Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and consumer stuff like the Clorox (NYSE: CLX) bleach guys and I'm reinvesting the dividends in all of them so they keep piling up.

Yeah, but --

And I've got international stocks like ABB (NYSE: ABB) that give me exposure to plays like the whole Indian infrastructure thing that's supposed to be huge soon, and China Green Agriculture (NYSE: CGA) to ride the China wave, and small cap gems like that company that uses the bombs or whatever to do metalworking -- Dynamic Materials (Nasdaq: BOOM).

I don't think it's bombs exactly, but yeah, Dynamic Materials is a great company. But you're not listening --

I mean, I've got it covered. I've heard it all from you before. It's old.

OK, then let me ask you a new question: Why?

Why what?

Why are you doing all this? All this research and investing and saving and asset allocating? What's it for?

What is this, a trick question? I'm investing my IRA because I'm saving for retirement, smart guy.

Yeah, but why? What are you going to do when you're retired?

What do you care? Maybe I'll buy a Buick and move to Florida and spend all day driving around at half the speed limit. So what?

I don't think you need a seven-figure investment account for that unless you're planning on a really nice Buick. But I think this is actually a really important question. Why do all this work?

Here, let me go into lecture mode for a bit. See, a lot of people who do some saving for retirement could do a lot better. But they don't, and I think that's because for them it's a chore. They contribute to their 401(k) because their company's benefits office or their spouse or whoever kind of browbeat them into it, or because their company has auto-enrollment and it just kind of happened.

Maybe they put a little money into their IRAs every few years, but they do it because they feel guilty, or because they hear how little Social Security pays and they feel like they should be doing something.

But feeling like you should be doing "something" isn't really motivating.

Why planning your retirement now -- even a little bit -- can make a huge difference
In the new issue of Rule Your Retirement, available online at 4 p.m. Eastern Time today, lead advisor Robert Brokamp talks about some recent research around motivation and how it applies to retirement.

It makes sense that you're more likely to achieve a goal if you have a clear vision of it, right? The trick, as Robert points out, is to make that vision motivating. What would make a great retirement for you? I mean, after the two months of sitting around doing nothing. What do you want to do that you don't have time to do now?

If you play your cards right you could have 20 or more years of good health after you retire. What are you going to fill that time with? What kind of life would get you bounding out of bed in the morning, every single day?

Sit and think about this for a little while. Because the more compelling your vision is, the more likely you are to stay motivated to do the work to actually get there.

This stuff may sound a little wifty, but it's likely to make a much bigger difference in the quality of your retirement than whether you had the foresight to buy a growth stock like Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS) early enough to make big money, or whether Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) will turn out to be a hot Chinese growth story.

Seriously, if you've ever had a moment of feeling like retirement investing is a drag (and who hasn't?), take some time to put together a clear, exciting vision of your post-work future. If you'd like some help getting started, check out Robert's article -- he talks in detail about some of the key concepts behind motivation, which gave me a great starting point for my own trip through this exercise.

Rule Your Retirement is a paid service, but you can check out Robert's article -- and the rest of the new issue, and all of the service's other great features -- for 30 days, completely free of charge. Just click here to get started.