The 6 Stages of Retirement: Will You Live in Fear or Opportunity?

Transitions in life come with many emotions. Retirement is a very big change where so many thoughts will shoot through your head with a mix of excitement and anxiety.

This is a natural reaction, so there’s no cause for alarm.

Here are six stages you can expect to face when you retire:

1. Planning

You’ve been planning and saving for retirement throughout your career. It seemed so distant, but this big change has drawn close.

And with very little time left to deliberate on what your future will look like, it’s easy to get caught up in matters concerning financial security.

However, it’s equally important to add emotional preparation in your retirement plan. It’s a big step, and you want to be ready for it. One way to do so is to set a few goals and expectations. That way, you’ll be walking into it prepared.

Analyzing your emotions and seeking to understand them will enable you to transition more easily and faster.

The Fear:

Being so afraid to take that next step to realistically consider what is next.

The Opportunity:

Begin now to examine your current life, how you would prefer to spend your time, and what will give you the most joy in your life.

2. D-day

The big day is here. Handshakes, hugs, pop the champagne, a celebration you deserve.

You’re excited about executing your retirement plan and all the things you’re now free to do.

But as anticipation builds up, you may experience feelings of uncertainty. Don’t be alarmed when you question who you are outside of the roles that define you.

The Fear:

The anxiety of stepping out of an existing routine and into a new role. 

The Opportunity: 

The excitement of what a new day will bring when you get to choose your own adventure! 

3. Honeymoon

Now you throw yourself into enjoying yourself as a recent retiree. There’s so much to do—places to visit, new experiences, and all the things you kept putting off because you never had time.

You travel, explore, visit friends and family, take up a new hobby, so much fun!

The Fear: 

Worrying about spending too much money and running out.

The Opportunity: 

Pre-retirement income planning as well as on-going professional guidance can give you the confidence to be in the moment and enjoy it without worry.

4. Disenchantment

Unfortunately, the honeymoon stage doesn’t last forever. This shouldn’t surprise you because most life changes have a honeymoon stage, after which, it’s time to get back to real life.

So after a year or two of a fun holiday, you’ll start to feel bored and disillusioned, wondering if this is all there is.

You’ll want something more, something deeper. And sometimes, this feeling of disenchantment can be accompanied by feelings of emptiness or depression.

As you get down to planning your new life, you may also feel removed from the responsibilities and people who once occupied your days.

The Fear: 

Feeling a sense of uneasiness and asking yourself if this is it.

The Opportunity: 

Focus 100% of your time and energy on the present and living in the moment.  Create a daily schedule to re-engage yourself both mentality, spiritually, and physically. Reach out to other retirees to see how they have adjusted.

5. Readjusting

Fortunately, the disenchantment stage doesn’t last forever.

When you understand the disenchantment stage, it presents an opportunity to reinvent and redefine your future. Now is the time to pace yourself and set a retirement plan for the long-term. And by that, I don’t mean cut out all the fun. No, balance the exciting experiences with meaningful ones.

Retired life has long-term needs, such as goals, relationships, and meaning, so it’s also important to evaluate these.

I’ve noticed, too, that the more realistic the pre-retirement dream, the less likely you are to feel empty after the honeymoon stage, so keeping it real can help you adjust quicker.

The Fear:

Losing your identity.

The Opportunity:

Re-define you according to what brings you happiness and personal satisfaction. 

6. Stability

This is where you settle into your new life. You’re past thinking and planning about your retirement and are now living it.

Consider some volunteer work, more time with family and friends, a new hobby or project such as a garden. Pursuing such things will give you a sense of purpose, which will contribute to your overall satisfaction.

The Fear: 

Not knowing where to start.

The Opportunity: 

Turn inward and think about what you love to do and your skillset.  Is there an organization that would benefit?  It could be your church or a local charitable organization.  Is there something you love but you would like to get better?  Maybe there are classes you could take to learn more or just spending time with that hobby.

No matter what retirement stage you’re in, you can navigate through it with confidence and attain stability.

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