When you think about your third act, where does your imagination take you? Travel, the Great Outdoors, part-time work, hobbies, fitness, service, mentoring, grandchildren – there are many avenues when thinking ahead to this important chapter in our lives.

Retirement readiness is most often associated with money: Is there enough in the bank to retire? This is an important question because financial security is a natural buffer in life. As a certified coach specializing in mid-life transitions, I don’t minimize this emphasis, however planning ahead on how you will spend time, not just your money, is also necessary. It’s a matter of being proactive rather than reactive and requires us to dig deeply to ask the question, “What’s next for me?”

In previous generations retirement was considered more of an end point. Today, it can be a vital new beginning. For this to happen, an investment needs to be made, with a consideration of time as a currency. On average, retirement lasts over three decades and offers many phases and stages. The goal of financial independence is securing a comfortable lifestyle that takes into consideration the ever-changing scenarios related to aging.

The question becomes, when every day is Saturday, how do you create meaningful contrasts, balancing novelty with routine? It’s the paradox of leisure: When all you have is free time, for some it can start to feel like work to fill it. During the “Decompression Phase” of retirement, time is an ally, with energy going toward taking that long awaited trip that lasts more than two weeks, or puttering around the house with home projects, taking leisurely lunches with friends, an extra round of golf or an afternoon matinee. Once the novelty wears off and life starts to normalize, the reality is there are a lot of hours to fill each day. It’s going from a model of time scarcity to time abundance. Having a newly minted, meaningful life plan in place allows you to feel more secure with the natural shifts this existential transition brings to the surface.

Figuring out what “The good life” looks like to you is the goal and this is definitely not a one-size-fits-all plan. The dream of a realistic, yet idyllic, post-work phase of life is certainly within reach, but it doesn’t happen on its own. There are some ways to get started to help prepare and create some comfort and confidence in the process.

First, think about the people in your life you admire in their third act. How do they spend their time? What’s their approach to everyday life? Ask them questions to better understand what is beneath the surface, both the joys and the challenges. Their responses and your inner voice will reflect your values and vision and may offer clues for how you want this next chapter to unfold.

Second, take inventory of your past interests and hobbies and see what still has appeal and potential. Think back: music, arts and crafts, sports, volunteering—to name a few. Once you have come up with a list, make it a point to regularly explore if it’s a fit again, or find an alternative that meets your abilities and interest today. Also, consider what activities you currently enjoy in your free time and find out if doing it more often is better or just becomes a drain. That sweet spot is what you are after.

Third, have conversations with your significant other to see how aligned your visions are when thinking about this all important life transition. One person may dream of traveling the world, while the other wants to stay closer to home. It is important to communicate and share ways to find common ground when it comes to scaffolding what life will look as a couple in this next chapter. Time together and apart can be hard to balance at first, but research tells us that compatible couples with an interdependent relationship have the most success in their retirement years. Honest communication goes a long way in charting a path that allows for flexibility and compromise. After all, adaptability is one of the most important attributes to have in later years and what better place to practice this trait than with your loved one?

And finally, if this transition is in the near future, it is smart to practice your new lifestyle. That way you can work out the kinks before you invest too deeply emotionally and financially. If you are planning to stay closer to home, take your vacation time and just stay put and pretend you are already retired. Try and organize around the life you intend to live and see how it feels. Do spending habits change when you have time on your hands? Do you have enough companionship beyond your spouse? Does life feel full enough? If you have more of an appetite for adventure, go out and practice that lifestyle. I am taking my own advice and renting a camper next summer with my husband to see how it feels to be on the open road. We imagine what this experience will be, but there is nothing like getting some miles in to really know whether it’s a fit. What’s important is to plan some practice rounds to assess and perhaps modify.

I love the quote from The Natural and find it fits well here, “I believe there are two lives, the one you learn with and the one you live after that.” Knowing yourself and planning ahead with your wisdom and instincts will generate a good life, your good life.