Having enough money is crucial for a comfortable retirement; having a lot of money is not. With 401k balances in the dumpster, this might be a good time to look at the other dimensions of retirement planning.
Researchers say there are specific and measurable non-financial assets that folks should bring with them into retirement: Items like an exercise habit, connection to a religious community, and a good sense of self.
"Self-awareness is highly predictive of success in retirement," says Bill Bryan of Next Dance, a company which offers pre-retirement psychological testing and coaching. The factors that most affect how a person adapts and enjoys his retirement -- what Bryan calls "the three big hitters" -- are attitude toward aging, commitment to society and self-awareness.
Next Dance offers testing and coaching to individuals, but is aiming much of its marketing efforts at investment advisors who already counsel pre-retirees on their portfolios. Even clients who already have multimillion-dollar nest eggs haven't really prepared for their retirement if they haven't thought about how they are going to keep themselves feeling fulfilled, how their plans dovetail with those of their spouses, and how they'll really feel and define themselves when they no longer collect a paycheck. (It's interesting that Bryan and his three partners are all at or near retirement age themselves, and opted to start this new company in lieu of retiring when they left their busy corporate jobs.)
"We were looking for some fun as well, something that would allow us to continue to use our experience, our energy and our brains," he says.
So feeling of use is an important component of the transition from retirement to what's next.
What else is? Here are some other ways to prepare for retirement while your portfolio is doing its part. The nest egg will certainly come in handy, but as you read this checklist, think about how little you actually have to spend in dollars to achieve each of the items.
The folks who are really enjoying their golden years have this much in common: They're adaptable.