I’ve seen too many people get too late a start on these four essential retirement checklist items.

There is a laundry list of financial items you should tackle before you retire. After meeting with several hundred people who have recently retired, or are about to, I have concluded that the vast majority of people are not overthinking it. In fact, I met with two people last week who told me they had just retired and were now ready to plan. Try to avoid that sequence.
To help prospective retirees prepare for this major change in their lives, I have compiled a list of four essential steps to take before that paycheck stops coming.

1. Brainstorm and experiment with what’s next.

When I ask recent retirees how it’s going, I tend to get love/hate responses. Those who spent the most time planning for the non-financial components are getting the most out of it. Those who drop from 50 hours/week to zero struggle to find a rhythm and can suffer without proper structure.

If you’re wondering where to start, ask yourself this question: “If I went to the doctor today and he told me that I was going to die tomorrow, what goals went unfulfilled and what did I miss?” George Kinder, who is known as the father of financial life planning, has written books on putting together your life plan that may serve as a good starting point. These “bucket list” items can be the goals you work toward in retirement. Odds are, these are things you have thought about your whole life. It’s time to put them down on paper — and then cross them off as you make progress.

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