No. 1: Plan the transition
As life transitions go, retirement ranks way up there among the most challenging, both financially and emotionally. Because it's such a big change, you need to plan carefully to navigate your way to a successful retirement.
Many decisions carry financial and life-planning implications. Should you sell the house and downsize? Will you have enough money to pursue travel plans and hobbies? How do you want to spend your time? "Set goals," says Leslie Tayne, an attorney in New York. "Plan out what you want your retirement to be like to determine if you have the funds to make it happen."
After a lifetime of work, you may have mixed emotions about retirement -- looking forward to not working but nervous about leaving your work identity behind. That's common, says William D. Pitney, a financial adviser and coach with FocusYou in Santa Rosa, California. "The transition to retirement is a period of incredible stress," he says.
Because retirement can be so stressful, Jeff Vollmer, a financial adviser with Hyde Park Wealth Management in Cincinnati, advises clients to begin planning five years in advance. If that isn't possible, a one-year time frame can work if you are focused and decisive.