Retirement planning is a fluid, multi-step process that evolves over time. It starts with thinking about your goals and how long you have to meet them. And it includes learning the key steps you should be taking to live a comfortable, secure, and enjoyable retirement.

Here’s how …

Create a timeline.

Your current age and desired retirement age will determine your strategy. The longer the period, the more time you have to accumulate wealth and the higher the level of risk you can take with your investments.

Invest and diversify.

A well-balanced portfolio that includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other assets will help you generate the kind of income you need to support a lifestyle that could last two or three decades.

Max out retirement accounts.

Take full advantage of your retirement accounts. Increase your contribution to the maximum allowed in your 401 (k), IRAs, and any other retirement plans you have. Doing so provides a tax break and the opportunity for investment growth.

Downsize your debt.

Carrying debt into retirement creates the potential for running out of money or facing significant lifestyle changes. Consider limiting new debt and accelerating payments on existing debt to minimize the amount of retirement income you’ll need to allocate to debt repayment.

Create a retirement budget.

Underestimating expenses is one of the biggest retirement mistakes people make. You need an accurate overview of your current spending habits and realistic expectations of your retirement spending habits. Overwise, you risk running out of money and having to alter the type of lifestyle you want to live in retirement.

Get started.

Whether you’re planning on retiring five years from now or thirty-five years from now, set plans in motion that will allow you to live the type of life you want to live in a financially secure way. A financial planner or wealth manager can help. The right financial advisor can provide expert advice and put you on the path that helps you reach your retirement goals.