I appreciate that for many readers the thought of retirement may seem a very long way into the future. However, it comes to us all eventually and for that new chapter in one's life to be successful, it requires careful planning for the transition from work to leisure.

Contrary to what you may imagine, retirement can be one of the busiest and most exciting times of your life — a period to look forward to. It means having time to breathe and doing what you want every day; it's about starting something new; giving back to the community using the skills and knowledge you have gained over the years and generally adjusting the pace of your life to a less structured day with fewer commitments and deadlines.

Years ago, the traditional idea of retirement invoked images of elderly people with walking sticks being helped across the road! But today, retirement is nothing like that! Retirement can mean learning a new skill, writing a book, starting a new business, doing voluntary work, travelling, or mentoring young people.

However, planning, fitness level, energy, attitude, mindset, education and finance are all factors that will determine the success and enjoyment of your eventual retirement.

When you were working, you were subject to company rules and regulations and knew what you were expected to do on a daily basis, but now you will need to be self-motivated and disciplined. It is all too easy to stay in bed late, watch television and then wonder what you have achieved in your day.

Moving home

For some, a priority may be to sell their home to downsize as the children may well have flown the nest. Personal possessions collected over the years will need to be ‘let-go' and homes de-cluttered of the things you don't really need. This is not an easy task and it takes the right attitude and mindset to do so and professionals are sometimes are needed to provide additional support.

These can often change when you retire. You and your spouse may well find yourselves together in the house all day for the first time in maybe 40 years. If you are a man who has always been out of the house after breakfast and now you are in-house 24/7, this can be stressful for your wife who is just not used to having you around continuously.

Returning to work

Retirement is an exciting opportunity and the world can still be an adventure. It should be something to anticipate, although some people will encounter problems because of inadequate planning. There will be many who may want to take up part-time working or perhaps become involved in a voluntary activity that would entail meeting new people as well as maintaining contact with their peer group.

There are others who may wish to start their own business. With the help of the internet and social networking, you will find marketing tools, business strategies and skills for any new venture — including, for instance, how to write business and marketing plans in order to attract funding. Alternatively, this may be a time to become a mentor to a younger person so as to give back to society some of the skills and knowledge that you have learnt over the years.

However, there can be nothing more important than looking after your health and to remain fit, as you enter retirement.

Companies need to involve senior managers in mentoring and coaching programmes so as not to lose all the training and skills that have been invested in an individual over many years just because they have reached retirement age.

The word ‘retirement' just doesn't work for me because it doesn't adequately describe the opportunities that are inherent in that chapter of your life after full-time work. A time that can put enrichment, excitement, energy and passion back into your life. For once, you can really be your own boss! I bet you can't wait!

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Key points:

  1. Retirement can be an exciting lifestyle change
  2. Planning and health are essential factors
  3. You can finally be your own boss!