A future without work is a new transition that demands attention.

Whether planned or unforeseen, a phase of life without new income or benefits requires adjustments. A conservative and knowledgeable approach can be key to surviving – or even thriving – through uncertain times.

A lesson from the Great Recession is to prepare for the unexpected. Markets tanked. Jobs permanently disappeared. Lifetime workers who were unprepared and suddenly unemployed learned the importance of adaptability.

Ironically, retirement can be like unemployment when viewed as an uncertain and potentially long period without work or new income. And like managing the effects of a layoff, retirement requires skill, planning and discipline to survive.

Here’s how to apply the lessons of a career or income interruption to retirement planning, whether you’ve ever lost a job or not:

Know your expenses. Many outlays will repeat monthly or annually throughout life: taxes, utilities, food and shelter are but a few. Without knowing the numbers, it’s impossible to determine if Social Security, pensions and other income sources will leave you ahead or behind.

Assets are not the only consideration. Retirees who overlook the impacts and importance of investments, taxes, healthcare and legacy/estate planning may find that these eventually overtake their assets, which behave differently in distribution than accumulation.

Manage risk – realistically. It’s nearly universal that women’s portfolios more closely reflect their tolerance for risk than men’s. Bravado often causes men’s assets to be more at risk than they believe. A rule to keep things in check is to allot the percentage of assets equal to one’s age in years to safe-money holdings – like a fixed index annuity – that is not subject to markets’ volatility, and can produce guaranteed lifetime income.

Prepare for the long term. The duration of life and retirement is unpredictable. Life expectancies are at new highs, averaging 86 years for men and 88 for women, with married couples trending even longer. More than 72,000 individuals older than 100 are living in the United States today, and that number is only expected to grow.

Syndicated financial columnist Steve Savant interviews retirement specialist Pat Mueller. Right on the Money Show is an hour long financial talk distributed to 280 media outlets, social media networks and financial industry portals.