If you're due to retire in the (fairly) near future, here's a list of 14 things that you might find it useful to do now in preparation for the big day...
1. Make an early start on planning and thinking about your life after retirement - not just the financial aspects of retirement, but the way that you want to live your life, where you want to live it, how you want to spend your time, who you want to spend it with, etc.
2. Try to become less absorbed in your work (especially if you have a tendency to become absorbed to the point of the exclusion of other, life-enhancing pursuits and activities) - aim to get (and maintain) a good work/life balance.
3. Start to develop hobbies and outside interests, particularly if you haven't had much time for these activities during your working life so far. Make sure that once you retire, you have something to get you bouncing out of bed in the morning.
4. Start to really look after your health - staying healthy and active is one of the best ways to ensure that you have an enjoyable and satisfying retirement. (Be aware that weight gain can be a real problem for new retirees, especially if they're used to being on their feet all day as part of their job!)
5. Find out as much as you can about the financial aspects of retirement and how much you can expect your retirement income to be. During the last couple of years before retirement, try to live on your projected retirement income, so that you know how well you'll cope when you're living on that amount of money for real.
6. Save as much money as you can but bear in mind that there's much more to a happy retirement than just money...
7. Become more involved with people outside of your work situation - and be prepared for the fact that, a couple of months down the line from your retirement, many of your colleagues will have moved on without you and the phone calls and invitations you were hoping for may not always materialize.
8. Be aware that many people report 'wasting' the first 18 months to 2 years of their retirement - ironically the time they were at their youngest and fittest - because they either wanted or needed to have a good, long rest for a couple of months. Before they knew it, however, that couple of months had turned into a couple of years and feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction were prompting them to do something more fulfilling and positive.
9. If possible, plan to continue to work part-time and generally ease yourself into retirement - many retirees report a feeling of 'being cast adrift' when they go from full-time employment to full-time retirement in the course of a day.
10. Become more involved in community activities - If you're used to having people around you constantly, it could be a shock to your system to spend the biggest part of the day either alone or with just your partner for company.
11. Take full advantage of any pre-retirement training and/or retirement coaching programs which are available to you - you've earned it!
12. Have some long-term goals for retirement alongside your short-term goals. Make a list of all the things that you still want to be, do and have in life, and build them into your calendar - have a 1 year plan, a 3-year plan, a 5-year plan, etc.
13. Try to anticipate what your long-term needs will be and plan for them - assume that you're going to live a long life.
14. Finally, make sure you have something (as many things as possible) to look forward to every day... You deserve it!
Have a happy retirement!