Retirement isn’t just about socking money away in your mattress. Retirement is also a state of mind because it’s an important life event for anyone who has spent their entire adult life in the work force. Here are a few tips to help you embrace this next stage in your life.

Retirement means a departure on both a social and psychological level. Many retirees lose their sense of purpose and pep when they no longer have to get up in the morning to go to work. Many miss their network of colleagues or clients.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, uninterested or blasé, there are some things you can do to prepare and make retirement an enjoyable stage in life.

Take your time to prepare

Start by acknowledging your age: aging and retirement go hand in hand. Time doesn’t stop for anyone, it’s a part of life. You may not like the idea of getting older but consider this: many others may never get the chance.

Optimism is your best ally. Work on positive thinking; see the glass half full, rather than half empty. Live your life to the fullest and cherish every moment of every day.

Just remember to be realistic because it may not always be a walk in the park. This is a time to really think about who you will be in the future and what your needs and desires will be when you stop working. The more you prepare, the more enjoyable your retirement will be.

Strive for balance in your life, regardless of your age: work, family, friends, sports, hobbies, etc. A well-balanced life today will help you transition towards retirement tomorrow.

Get used to having fun and enjoying every minute. It’s time to put yourself first and stop trying to please everyone around you.

Ask yourself the right questions

Retirement means a lot more free time. What will you do? Start asking yourself these questions:

  • What do I like? Travel? Golf? Gardening? Cross-country skiing?
  • What are my interests outside of work? If you answered “I have no idea” to any or all of these questions, it’s time to find something else to do other than work!
  • What could give meaning to my life? Volunteering? Spending time with my grandchildren?
  • Making myself useful is important to me: how should I go about it? Work a few months out of the year? Help children with their homework?

Imagine yourself in the future. Where will you be in 10 to 15 years? How do you see your life?

You should also take a look back and take stock of everything you’ve accomplished, your dreams and your values, to give you an idea of what you might do in the future without losing your way.

  • What dreams did you have?
  • Did you realize them?
  • Are they still important to you?

Don’t worry if you don’t have the answers yet, let things simmer for a while.

Prepare a life project

Start planning a life project that reflects who you are―one that will make you happy as your objectives become clearer.

Plan your project gradually. Do your homework. Set appropriate milestones and find out what’s possible and what’s not. Take action!

What your brother-in-law, best friend or cousin did may not be the right solution for your retirement. You are captain of your own ship.

Do you have a spouse?

  • Talk openly about what you both want. Don’t get swayed by each other’s whims, desires and fads if you don’t want to.
  • Define the projects that you will do solo, together or with friends.
  • Unless you’re totally on the same wavelength, think about taking time off alone every few months or years, so you can both adapt at your own pace.

Changing your lifestyle after 40 years of working doesn’t happen overnight. Listen to your needs and wants, and most of all, give yourself time.

Happy retirement!