Q: I'm a 55-year-old man who's pretty healthy, and my wife and I will be retiring in five years. We have the savings, but we're both a little afraid about what we're going to do when we stop working. We've heard so many stories about people having a hard time transitioning. How do you suggest we start thinking about this next phase in our lives?

A: You've heard the old adage that worrying can take years off your life, right? Well, this is one area that you don't need to worry about. It sounds like you and your wife are in good health and have financial resourcesthese are the two areas most people worry about. All you need are a few simple tips on how you can start your ReFirementnot retirementplanning.

I use the word ReFirement because retirement is not a good concept for today's 50+ crowd; the word literally means "to withdraw or disengage from." Research indicates that this is the worst possible way to approach the second half of your life. In fact, most every study shows that the Boomer generation will not be moving quietly into "the sunset."

ReFiring your life, on the other hand, means seeking engaging activities and experiencing joy and meaning. You and your wife can easily get started on this journey by asking yourselves two basic questions: What are my core values, and what am I passionate about?

Planning for midlife and beyond demands a solid foundation, and nothing is more bedrock than your core values. It should be noted that core values are different from accumulated values, which include professionalism and material belongings. Core values run much deeper and include family, integrity, honesty, faith, and a sense of belonging.

When you have completed your core values list, it's time to create another list of the things you're passionate about. If you don't have a lot of things you're passionate about, consider it a sign that you might need to develop more.

Now you and your wife should sit down and compare lists. Talk to each other about the values and passions you share and where you might have differences. Ask each other: "What would you like to be doing in five years?" "What would we like to be doing together?" "What would we like to be doing separately?"

Consider this the first important step toward an exciting next stage in your lives.

Dr. James Gambone is a nationally recognized aging expert who specializes in intergenerational relationships; an award-winning writer, producer, and director; and the author of four books, including ReFirement: A Guide to Midlife and Beyond. In addition, he has created a camp for children whose National Guard parents are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistana project for which he was featured on ABC's Nightline.