As we head towards the end of the calendar year, the break over Christmas sometimes provides an opportunity for us to take stock. For some of us, that may mean a reflection on our plans for retirement. It is important to note, however, that retirement is about more than just having enough money to live on, it's also about having something to live for.

Here are a few statistics: in Australia, the cohort with the highest divorce rate is between the ages of 55-64-year-olds, while the average age of women first becoming widows is 59. These figures perhaps tell the tale of men who "laid it all on the field" during their careers and then moved to the next stage of life without being prepared for it.

Studies show that those people who enjoy the most satisfying retirement are those who follow the steps below:

1. Having a positive attitude. This enables people to roll with the punches better during the retirement years and adapt to the whole gambit of changes the occur, both physically and mentally.

2. Having a clear vision of the kind of life you'd like. Far too many pre-retirees make the mistake of thinking that the financial plan and the retirement plan are the same thing–that the life part will take care of itself. This stage of your life deserves a more holistic look and plan than simply assuming that you are beginning a thirty-year-long weekend. What do you actually want your life to look like?

3. An active social network. As you get older, your social support network becomes increasingly important. You draw your social support network from a much broader social network. Successful retirees generally have robust social networks that provide them with friendship, fulfilling activities and life structure.

4. A balanced approach to leisure. Leisure is a fundamental human need. We use it to recharge our batteries, to act as a diversion in our lives, to create excitement, anticipation or simply to rest and contemplate. Things change, however, when leisure becomes the central focus of our lives. Leisure, by its very nature, loses its luster when it is the norm in our life rather than the diversion. For many retirees, the idea of leisure is associated with "not having to do anything". In the end, a lack of stimulation affects our mental and emotional state and then ultimately our physical well being. Successful retirees balance their leisure over many different activities and take the opportunity to do new things and not get into a rut.

5. Maintaining financial comfort. Some retirees feel that a happy retirement is guaranteed by financial security. However, there is no price tag on successful retirement. As someone once said, "having a million dollars is NOT a retirement plan!" Financial comfort refers to being able to manage your life in a satisfying and fulfilling way using the financial resources that you have. It's important to note that money in retirement is only an enabler, and for most of us, the things that are really important generally involve other people.

We hope these points have given you some food for thought as we head towards the end of the year. And if you'd like to talk to us more about any of these ideas, we're only an email or a phone call away.