Written By: Adela Gonzalez

Have you considered retiring? How do you see your life? For many, it’s a chance to travel, while for others it’s the opportunity to spend more time with family, or buying the sailboat and sailing away. No matter what your ideal retirement life you envision, it’s a chance to finally being free, free to do anything or nothing.

Unfortunately, reality sets in and people didn’t expect or plan for it. Before you retire, it’s time to take a hard look at these things first.

First, will your plans meet your emotional needs? A common regret that many older retirees have is that they stopped working too soon. The temptation of freedom, unfortunately, doesn’t always pay off. Eventually the interests that retirees thought would keep them busy and fulfilled fall short. This leaves retirees with too much time on their hands and nothing to do.

Another key emotional need is the need to fill accomplished. Many people enjoy the sense of accomplishing a task and a fulfillment in their work that keeps them motivated. This absence of something that fills this emotional need can lead to stress, isolation, and even depression. Before you consider retiring, make sure you have a plan for what you’ll do to fill your time and give you a sense of fulfillment.

Second, try living on your retirement income before you actually retire. You may have less than you think. The average American who is considering retirement are far less financially prepared. “According to Vanguard, which manages retirement plans for almost 4 million Americans, the median account balance for those over 55 was less than $78,000. If you retire at 66 and live to 80 — about the average — that’s less than $6,000 per year in income. Fidelity also manages retirement savings for millions of Americans, and says that many near-retirees aren’t financially prepared. A recent Fidelity study reported that the average Baby Boomer is only prepared to cover about 80% of estimated retirement expenses.” Once you have lived on your retirement income for several months and you realize that you can’t afford to live within these means. It’s better to learn when you’re still working then after you walk away. Now you can adjust your plans up front, which could include putting off retiring a few years, and increasing your retirement accounts. Retire when you’re truly ready, making sure you’re ready is much easier than trying to figure things out after you’ve already retired.

The point is, millions of American retirees are going to come up short. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t even realize it.