There are many reasons to celebrate the day you retire. You have worked very hard, faithfully showing up for work every day, doing what needed to be done. Sometimes you love your job, but most of the time, not so much, and now you look forward to a life without any cares about workplace politics and office showdowns. How wonderful it will be to finally have the time for that hobby you have put off or just relax, watch TV all day, or whatever it is your heart desires.

Yet many people never truly understand how hard it is to retire until they do so. The shock can be overwhelming feelings of guilt, regret, and most of all, being bored out of their minds with no place to go. Now all the time in the world with nothing to do? It sounds like a nightmare! Experts like Robert Nico Martinelli have found that what you do next is the key to being happy in retirement.

This can be avoided if you are prepared for retirement by taking certain steps that I will outline below. They require some effort on your part but, if done correctly, could save you years of misery or at least not end up feeling guilty every time you see your former co-workers enjoying the fruits of their labors.

Let’s look at some steps you can take to prepare yourself for retirement.

The first and most important step is to save as much as possible. I cannot stress this enough! This means during all those years of working. You need to put money away for this day. Take advantage of any employer matching programs that may exist with your retirement plan or IRA’s. You don’t have to contribute the maximum amount but at least contribute enough so that they will match your contribution.

This means, for example, if you are supposed to be putting away 5% of your salary, not doing so will mean missing out on free money. For an employee earning $50,000/year, that is a difference of about $1,500 per year. That may not seem like much, but if you do this for even ten years, it can add up to thousands of dollars!

This may mean you have less spending money now but the peace of mind knowing your retirement will be taken care of is well worth it.

Don’t stop your contributions when you are close to retirement. You may think that since you are now getting closer to retiring, there is no need to put extra money away. This may be the case if you have saved enough but even then, why not keep making those contributions? It does not take much effort to do that, and if nothing else, it gets you in the habit of saving.

If you are not close to retirement or even if it is already behind you, consider starting an investment account. This does not have to be complicated. Just set aside a bit of money each month to buy stocks or mutual funds. Even $100 per month will eventually grow into a nice little sum, especially if you keep it going for several years.

Remember the money you invest in your money. Don’t feel guilty about doing this instead of putting it in a savings account. You need some risk taking to make sure your money will grow and be there for you. If you are not comfortable with stocks or mutual funds, you may want to consider putting your money in a CD instead. CDs, of course, have a lower return but are more secure.