Recent research from National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB)-owned MLC Australia reveals that a massive 68% of Australians feel unprepared for retirement. In fact, worryingly only 15% of the Australian public feel suitably prepared for it.

Whilst a lot of us will put off thinking about retirement, the sooner we put a plan in action the better. After all, according to ASIC’s MoneySmart the average couple will need $59,160 per year to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. For singles the figure drops to $43,062 per year.

Creating a source of income in retirement will be key to living a comfortable lifestyle in my opinion. I believe investments in companies which have strong dividends and the potential to lift them considerably over the next decade or two are a great starting point.

Here are four shares which I believe could allow investors to live happily ever after:

ASX Ltd (ASX: ASX)

As the operator of the Australian Stock Exchange the company has a near-monopoly like status which is a big positive in my eyes. This should allow it to consistently grow both its earnings and its dividend at a solid and predictable rate for many years to come. In FY 2017 ASX shares are expected to provide investors with a fully franked 4.2% dividend according to CommSec.

Blackmores Limited (ASX: BKL)

Whilst the dividend of this leading health supplements company may take a slight step back this year after its meteoric rise in FY 2016, I believe in the long term it will grow substantially as the company increases its international sales. Success in China will be key. The early signs have been positive and I am confident that the company will build on this. Currently its trailing yield is a fully franked 3.6%.

Mantra Group Ltd (ASX: MTR)

One key driver of economic growth in Australia over the next decade is predicted to be tourism. As one of Australia’s leading accommodation providers with 20,000 rooms under management, I believe Mantra is in a strong position for long-term earnings growth. Especially as its BreakFree, Mantra, and Peppers brands have all bases covered and cater to the budget, mid-range, and luxury markets. Mantra’s shares are expected to provide a fully franked 4.4% dividend in FY 2017.

Retail Food Group Limited (ASX: RFG)

The master franchisor of brands including Gloria Jean’s, Donut King, and Michel’s Patisserie is expected to provide investors with a fully franked 4.7% dividend in FY 2017. Over the last 10 years the company has grown its dividend by an average of 18% per year. Although this growth is likely to slow over the next 10 years, I still believe its strong brands and international expansion plans will make it a fantastic addition to a retirement portfolio.

Overall I feel these four shares could provide investors with a strong foundation for a comfortable retirement. But they're not the only ones available. These two fantastic shares could be the other hot picks of 2017 if you ask me.

Big, Fat, Dividends

This company's dividend is almost the stuff of legends. Its reliable cash flows support a high payout ratio, and the company's stash of franking credits are the cherry on the top of the dividend cake. Based on the last 12-months of dividends, shares are offering a fully-franked 6.5% yield, which grosses up to a whopping 9.3%, when those franking credits are included.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.