Setting savings goals is important in creating confidence about retirement, finds a survey from Manulife USA. Only half of Americans in the workplace have tried doing so, however.

"Again and again, 401(k) participants have told us what a difference setting and working toward a goal makes and how much more confident they feel about retirement after doing this," said Ralph Vizl, vice president of strategy and research for group pensions at Manulife.

The company has responded by creating a program for defined contribution plan participants that eases them through the process of setting goals. The survey found that 83% of those who engaged in an estimation exercise found it to be useful. Saving alone without this type of analysis was reassuring for only 61% of plan participants.

In general, Americans have become more confident about retirement, with 67% asserting they are behind schedule or have not yet started saving; last year, 75% felt that way. Even more people place a comfortable retirement as a high priority, 70% this year, over 61% last year.

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