3 Stages of Retirement
“Understanding the stages of retirement can be useful in developing a successful retirement transition plan.”
When you are toiling away in the trenches, it is easy to see retirement as a far-off dream.
What is your vision, and what will it look like in reality?
With some planning, you can have a great deal of control over the outcome. It’s important to address the retirement planning process with that in mind.
The financial aspect of retirement has been well covered. Entire forests of trees have been leveled to create guidebooks and worksheets aimed at building retirement security and helping diligent savers become happy and successful retirees. Those financial concerns are certainly important, but they are not the only factors to consider in your retirement planning.
Even the most well-heeled retiree may get bored in their post-work life, and no amount of golf will be enough. For your own retirement to be successful, it’s important to move beyond the merely financial and reach into the personal as well. It can be helpful to think in terms of a progression through three stages of retirement – from the initial excitement you feel when leaving your final retirement party to the more stable parts of your post-work life.
Retirement Stage #1 – The Active Phase
This initial active stage of retirement living can begin as you drive out of the parking lot for the last time. Your head will be full of excitement and plans for the future, and you’ll spend the active phase of your retirement making those a reality. You’re looking forward to take having time for academic classes, workshops, or joining some clubs.
During this phase, you want to consider ways to replace some of the good things about working, such as a regular structure to your day or a sense of purpose. But without the stress! Many retirees use this time to volunteer in their communities, start a business, or do some consulting. You will also have more time to pursue your favorite hobbies, some old ones and some new. You might travel to see your “bucket list” destinations, and make more frequent visits to the grandkids along the way.
Travel, fun, and a new beginning
Retirement Stage #2 – The Stable Phase
The middle stage of your retirement will likely be about stability –in your finances, your personal life and in your daily activities. You might find yourself spending more time at home and focusing your volunteering or interests on more specific aspects of the causes that are important to you. Memoir-writing appeals to a lot of people in this reflective, more routine of the three retirement stages.
The stable phase is when your post-work identity is formed, and often there are some growing pains as you search for meaningful purpose and confront disenchantment. It’s definitely an adjustment as you slow down from the active first stage. A coach or mentor is invaluable as well.
Maybe it's time to downsize and simplify
You may also decide to rethink the place where you live. Retirees in this phase often elect to downsize from a large home, with its many maintenance requirements, and relocate to a smaller home in the same town or an entirely new community. You might find that the condo life is a great choice, or that seeing the world from the balcony of a luxury apartment is just the thing.
Retirement Stage #3 – The Settling-In Phase
This part of retirement can be characterized by settling in, simplifying, and relaxing, but you may find some new challenges at this time. Maintaining our health during this stage can require more time and attention than it used to. Remaining active with our family and friends, and with causes important to us, can contribute a great deal to success during this phase.
Keep the Stages of Retirement in Mind
Planning for and understanding the three stages of retirement, from the excitement of the active phase to the stability of the middle phase to the settled lifestyle of the third phase, can be useful from the outset in developing a successful retirement transition plan.