Avoiding Stage 3

Recently, Doug read a good article about the five stages of retirement, though there was a stage worth some attention. We wanted to share these stages with you as he is embarking on his pending retirement in the years ahead.

Family of grown adults throwing a party for an older lady who is retiring

According to the article, here are the five stages most people experience before and during retirement years:

  1. Pre-Retirement
  2. The Honeymoon Phase
  3. Disenchantment
  4. Re-Orientation & Finding Yourself
  5. Stability

Stage One: Pre-Retirement

To retire successfully (the first time), more time than you might think needs to be spent in the years leading up to your retirement date. Ignoring the following can be costly and lead to unnecessary stress and wasted time.

  • Financial preparation is by far the utmost vital criteria for retirement
    • Living costs & medical costs make up the most significant part of your budget
    • Family expenses can often creep up on you faster/more extensively than expected
    • Accounting for fluctuations in your investments is critical (as in NOW!)
    • Try to project your daily life as a retiree
      • What will I do after I wake up for the next 14 – 16 hours?
    • What are your goals for retirement? (Rest, be active, travel, family needs, work, etc.)
  • Where do you want to live?
    • Downsize? Upsize? Move away? Stay local? One or two places?

Stage Two: The Honeymoon Phase

Woohoo!! The day has finally arrived. No more lousy bosses, long commutes, late nights in the office, pain the rump employees, etc. Freedom at last! During this stage, you may have feelings of excitement, liberation, and relief from the stresses brought to you by the working world. These feelings often last for 1 to 2 years; however, they can last for much longer, depending on how you spend your time.

A considerable portion of your time initially will be spent reconnecting with friends and family, indulging in new & old hobbies, and enjoying more freedom to do whatever you please.

Stage Three: Disenchantment

After the emotional high begins to wear off and the honeymoon phase is over, many people start to feel disappointed and let down with their current life. Retirement is something that many of us look forward to and spend a lot of time hyping up. So, once you’ve settled into retirement, it can begin to feel less exciting than you once thought. Many people may feel lonely and bored and have lost their sense of purpose.

Stage Four: Re-orientation and Finding Yourself

Like any other stage, you eventually begin to adapt to your new circumstances and navigate your new life. This is the hardest part of retirement, as re-finding your purpose and establishing who you are takes time and a lot of conscious effort. Even though it can be tricky, this is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable stages.

Typically, this is the time to try new things, find new hobbies, and re-find your purpose in life. Without a full-time job and no children (hopefully no full-time grandchildren either) to care for, it can be hard to find a purpose. But researchers worldwide agree that finding something that reignites your spark is crucial. This could be pursuing a passion, volunteering, looking after your grandkids, or adding something fun and exciting to your daily routine.

Stage Five: Stability

The final stage of retirement brings feelings of being content and joyous in retirement and your new life. You may find yourself settled into your new routine and lifestyle, doing things you love that make you feel happy and fulfilled and enjoying your life with a new sense of purpose and identity. And this is being single or with someone you love.

Disenchantment is undoubtedly the stage that most of us need to be careful of. Think of it this way: You spend an excessive amount of time researching when and where to retire, designing and building your Dream Home, meeting new neighbors, and getting used to not having to work. Then one day, you wake up and are bored to pieces. Your spouse is engaged in numerous activities, and other than watching TV, you have very few friends, if anyone, to hang out with.

Couples especially need to be careful of having one spouse become sedate, as that will almost always lead to resentment or jealousy. And as a single person, it’s imperative not to let your guard down, as you might not have anyone to pick you back up. Retirement can be scary.

So, how does one avoid all or most of Stage Three? The best advice is to set up a daily routine, just like you had when you worked and or were an active parent. We need reasons to wake up; no, we are not just talking about going to the bathroom. You need a purpose – exercising, reading, volunteering, part-time job, neighborhood activities, taking the dog for a long walk, community civic groups, sewing club, poker night, being a candy striper, etc.

In Doug’s semi-retirement, he attempts to do as much as possible. He plays golf with a group of men from his condo building; is attending a new Rotary club; has a couple of favorite fishing holes; enjoys dining out at new restaurants with new friends; learning to play tennis again; often traveling (5 cruises this year, and counting); vacationing with family and entire company; trying to find a new church; writing his monthly eNewsletter Carolina Dreamin’; being active as a Trustee at Brunswick Community College, and more.

PLAN PLAN PLAN. If you don’t have one, you may be mighty bored during your golden years! You’ve been a very productive person since high school, and now your calendar is wide open, so it is up to you and you only to start thinking about what you want to see on your Daily calendar when you throw in the towel at work. And once you project your future, it is time to execute because we all know that a great plan is nothing without execution. 

Moral of The Story: Avoid Stage Three!

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