If you are starting to consider retirement, you probably have a lot of thoughts running through your head regarding the upcoming transition. This is why we recommend you consider the emotional stages of retirement. No two retirement experiences are the same, but it is probably fair to say that you feel a mix of excitement and trepidation.
Transitions in life come with a range of emotions—and retirement is a big change. Over the years, it has become clear that retirees do not adjust all at once. Instead, retirement happens in emotional stages. Here are the five most common emotional stages of retirement you will probably face when you retire:
Stage 1: Planning
In the planning phase of retirement, you begin evaluating when you should retire. You get to put your imagination to the test during this stage, deciding where you want to retire, where you want to live, and how much money you need to save.
As you plan for the impending transition, it’s important to spend time preparing yourself emotionally, too. Retirement is a big change, and you don’t want to do it until you know you are ready. Set some goals and expectations for your retirement so you know you aren’t walking into it blind. By taking your emotions into consideration and seeking to understand them, you’ll be able to transition easily into the next stage.
Stage 2: Excitement
The closer you get to retirement, the more excited you’ll begin to feel. When was the last time you didn’t have to go to work? When could you do something just because you wanted to, without worrying about other responsibilities? You’ve been planning the logistics and details of retirement for years—but now it’s time to get excited about all the new experiences you will get to have.
As the anticipation builds for your retirement, it is also common to have some uncertainty in this stage. You might wonder who you are outside of all the responsibilities that have defined you—but that’s one of the most exciting things about retirement. In this part of your life, you can be whoever you want to be. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll be counting down the days until retirement officially begins.
Stage 3: Honeymoon
The “Honeymoon Stage” is common in a lot of life transitions—not just retirement. At the beginning of your retirement, you will probably be lost in all the opportunities available to you. You can learn a new hobby, visit your family, or travel to places you have never been. In this stage, you can get some much-needed rest and enjoy your retirement years.
Unfortunately, the Honeymoon Stage does not last forever. After a year or so, you might start to identify a desire for something deeper. You have worked hard for this time in your life, so it’s important to get as much enjoyment out of retirement as possible—but don’t be surprised when the next stage of retirement sneaks up on you.
Stage 4: Disenchantment
At this point in retirement, you might begin to think retirement isn’t as fun as you expected it to be. There are only so many hobbies you can learn and places you can visit before everything starts to feel the same again. This feeling of disenchantment can sometimes be accompanied by more serious feelings of meaningless or depression. In this stage, it’s important to ask for help if you need it. Talk to your family and friends about your feelings, and have them help you look for ways to create a sense of purpose again. This might be a good time to invest in something bigger than yourself—you can volunteer at a local organization, consider continuing education opportunities, or even plant a garden.
Stage 5: Reorientation & Stability
This is the final phase of retirement emotions, and it ties all the earlier stages together. You can go back to your original retirement plan and evaluate your goals and hopes for retirement. With the Honeymoon Stage out of the way and reality setting in, you can truly begin to embrace this part of your life, balancing your exciting experiences with your meaningful ones.
What are you still hoping to accomplish? How are you going to get there? As you reorient yourself in this transition and regain solid footing, you can see the big picture better than you could before. In your golden years, you’ll feel more stable and accepting of this new life phase.
Transitioning to Retirement
As you prepare for retirement, knowing what’s coming can be helpful, but it can also be a little bit intimidating. Sure, you are probably excited for the honeymoon phase—but what about the stages that come afterward? At Acts Retirement-Life Communities, we want to make sure you don’t go through this transition alone. Our communities are full of friendly staff and fellow retirees who will walk beside you every step of the way.