Retirement is a big and intimidating word. It’s also something that we all must face at some point in our lives. If you’re like most people, the idea of retirement leaves you feeling anxious and stressed out about whether or not you’ll be able to afford it when the time comes. Fortunately, retirement planning doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. The key is to start early and avoid common mistakes that could derail your retirement savings. Here are five of the most common planning mistakes to avoid.

1. Not Creating a Detailed Plan

Don’t just rely on vague ideas about what retirement might be like for you. Create an actual plan with specific goals and strategies that will help you reach those goals successfully. Many people overlook this critical step, but it’s the only way to know if your retirement income planning is succeeding or failing.

2. Not Starting Early Enough

The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. Even if your current income is fairly low, delaying retirement planning won’t help you later on. In fact, it will do just the opposite by ensuring that you have no choice but to work longer and harder before you can retire because you’ll have smaller savings account to draw from.

3. Not Staying the Course

Once you get started, stick with it. This is perhaps the most important aspect of retirement planning. There will be times when things get difficult, and it seems like all hope is lost. The key to success in these situations is resilience — sticking with your plan and remaining determined to reach your goals despite obstacles that may arise along the way.

4. Not Being Flexible

Your retirement plan will need to be adjusted as you go along. Many people fail at retirement income planning because they’re unwilling to alter their strategy when necessary. Life is full of unexpected events that can have a major impact on your financial situation, so it’s important that you know how to adjust if things don’t go as you expected.

5. Not Hiring a Financial Advisor

A qualified, unbiased retirement planning expert can help you avoid mistakes and keep your plan on track. Investing in the services of a professional advisor will mean less time worrying about how to create an effective retirement strategy and more time focused on other parts of your life that are important to you.

According to a new poll, approximately 46% of Americans are unaware of how much money they have set aside for retirement. If you’re a part of that 46%, take a step back and examine your retirement planning strategies. Taking stock of your retirement plan now will put you ahead of the game when retirement finally comes around. With the right retirement income planning, you can escape to retirement without worrying about whether it will be affordable for you.