En español | Times have changed in the last half-century and the concept of retirement has shifted dramatically. Just in the past decade that I've been at AARP, I've seen the change happening. It's true. This isn't your grandfather's retirement.
See also: 10 steps to the retirement you want
Few people see retirement anymore as a time when they'll put their feet up and do nothing. Increasingly, people expect to work past 65 or 67, even if their job is something completely different from what they've done their whole lives. They'll do this because either the work is rewarding or, more often these days, their budgets require it — especially for health care costs and even if it's not full time.
But in this new era of retirement, planning shouldn't focus solely on finances. Without doubt, money is a huge part of retirement planning — probably the most significant part — but it's not all of it.
When planning for retirement, having a balanced approach that considers both life (what it will look like on a day-to-day basis) and finances will help you achieve the most positive outlook. You must prepare mentally and emotionally for what happens when you actually retire.
What do you picture when you think about your retirement? It'll be different for everyone. Is it the luxury of sleeping late and not rushing to the office? Is it the fear of losing the thing that gave your life the most purpose, and maybe your identity — your job? Or is retirement the opportunity for you to do something very specific with your time on your terms? This could mean volunteering, studying photography, writing the novel you never had time for, traveling or even working 10 to 15 hours a week for your former employer or some other organization.
As I look into the future, I dream of running a community-sustained agriculture (CSA) farm. In the most traditional sense of retirement, that dream is about 20 years away, but I'm imagining right now what it will take to make that dream my future reality.
What does retirement mean for you? Write down a list of specific retirement goals and then try to trim it down to your top five goals. Be creative. Start a collage or a journal with photos, magazine images, words and phrases to help you visualize your goals and make them more concrete. Or start an online community for people imagining retirement. Hearing others describe their plans can enhance your own perspective.