Maureen Pratt

Is your ideal retirement filled with travel, family and lazy mornings when you are not jarred awake by the alarm clock? Are you planning to take up a hobby or go back to school? Or, are you just looking forward to weeks and years of kicking back?

The reality of retirement is built on a foundation of financial planning, but there also are health and emotional considerations to think about to prepare for the day when you leave the workforce and beyond.

Much has been written about the deluge of baby boomers entering retirement, and there have been many articles about financial preparedness. But sometimes the focus on things financial obscures another vital component of a quality retirement: To enjoy all those compounded earnings and hours free from work, we have to be healthy enough, physically and emotionally, to do so.

Health-wise, there’s no time like the present to get a physical exam and to identify areas that could be problematic in the future. Detection and prevention can help retirement go smoothly. Chronic illnesses can wear on the body as the years go by. Vigilance is important. Routine exams are like auto maintenance, a regular “kicking of the tires” to keep us road-worthy.

If you plan to be physically active in retirement, try to fold in regular exercise to your pre-retirement plan. Speak with your doctor and a coach or teacher about how to prepare now so you can enjoy activities when you have more time to devote to them. As for that future resolution to lose weight, the sooner you begin, the better off you’ll be.

Like your physical health, the emotional part of retirement can be just as important.

I’ve heard recent retirees say that they were unaware of what to expect when they left the workplace. Some were stunned by the sudden lack of a regular paycheck. Other retirees might feel lost because they no longer have co-workers to help them socialize.

We need to prepare emotionally for the time when our identity will no longer be tied to our workplace or former way of life.

Some married couples report encountering significant problems after one or both retired because they weren’t used to being together for longer periods of time. If you have a spouse with whom you’ll be in close quarters, brush up on your negotiation and problem-solving skills.

It’s hard to know how you’re going to feel when you retire, but it is possible to get to know yourself better now so that you have some idea of how you’ll react when retirement comes. Prayer, meditation and taking a good look at how you react to life is important.

These plans take time to develop, but along with your financial investment plans, they will pay big dividends to make your golden years shine.