While old age might seem a far-distant prospect for many, we should all bear in mind that life has a tremendous tendency to creep up on us. Some day we will all close the door to work one final time and enter the golden age of retirement.

Job loss/retirement is noted by psychologists as being one of life’s five most stressful events. The other four are the death of a loved one, divorce, moving home and major illness or injury. However, with retirement, we have many years to plan and make provisions for a life without working.

Here are just a few things you can do today which could make a big difference to your life after work. 

Realistically assess your timeline

The majority of people retire at 65 but if you have other plans, you should work out a realistic timeline to assess your earning potential between today and the day you stop working. The most common problems through retirement are usually health or money-related (often a combination of the two), so try to work out how much you think you’ll need to live comfortably when you stop working and find ways to achieve that figure.

Try to work out where you think you’ll want to live

As we age, the stresses of maintaining and looking after a large family home often become too much. Consequently, you should try to think long term and attempt to assess where you think you’ll want to live in the future. Most elderly people look to downsizing first before potentially moving to assisted living accommodation or premier senior living facilities. Also, while it might seem impossible to think this far ahead, the day will eventually come when either you or your spouse passes, so try to envisage how you might want to live if left alone.

Make a plan to clear your debts

As noted above, the most common problems through old age are typically money-related so you should make a determined plan to clear any debts you might have long before retirement. Remember, your cost of living will likely stay relatively similar; however, your income will, in most cases, drop dramatically. Make inroads to your debts today with the aim of being completely debt-free by the time you reach retirement age.

Prepare emotionally for retirement

The majority of people work all their lives, perhaps starting as young as 16 up until the age they retire. Work helps give people a sense of identity, of belonging and of purpose, so try to prepare mentally for how you’ll deal with the extra time on your hands. Many people sink into depression when they stop working so try to plan how you’ll fill your days.

Also, work frequently provides us with the majority of our social contact, and often, many of our good friends, so think about joining clubs, taking evening classes, or getting to know your neighbors better. Your social circle will shrink considerably when you stop working so try to build a good network of out-of-work friends.

With the correct planning in place, retiring can bring some of the best days of your life which are without the burden of having to go to work every day. Taking even simple steps today can pay massive dividends further down the line in later life.