I recently came across a TEDx talk about the four phases of retirement and it hit home for me. The link for that talk is at the end of this post.
It seems that all retirees are in one phase or another or moving from one phase to another. I believe it helps to know what the phases are so you can know where you might move next.
The first phase, which usually occurs when you’ve entered a planned retirement, is what I call the “Honeymoon” phase. This is where you start doing all those things you have planned in pre-retirement; things like traveling, starting or getting more into a hobby, volunteering, or just plain relaxing. In this phase you are usually happy, relaxed and fulfilled. This phase can last anywhere from a few months to many years, depending on how well you have planned.
The second phase, which I call the “Disenchanted” phase, can happen in one of three ways. The first way is when you are forced into retirement, and you haven’t properly planned for it. The second way is after you’ve done everything you had planned to do in the “Honeymoon” phase and have run out of things to do. The third way is when life throws you a curve ball and you end up in a situation where all your plans go out the window. In this phase you can feel bored, disconnected with the world, stuck, or even depressed. You may feel that there’s something out there you can do, but don’t know what it is or how to find it. It is not untypical for this phase to last for years and can bring serious consequences to your relationships and life.
The third phase is where you are actively looking for a way out of the second phase. This is the “Seeking” phase. You may or may not know what you are looking for, but you know you can get out of the “Disenchanted” phase if you just find the right goal to go after. You may still have some of the feelings of the second phase, but they are usually diminished because you are now doing “something” and have a “goal” in mind. The “goal” is to find a new direction for your life.
The last phase is when you have found your goal in life, your “life purpose”. This is the “Nirvana” phase. You wake up each day happy, knowing you have a purpose, a goal to strive for, and look forward to the future. You will probably have the same feelings as in the “Honeymoon” phase, but you inherently know you aren’t going to be limited to a list.
It's important to know that this is not a linear progression, nor is it fixed. You can easily move, or be forced to move, back and forth between the phases or even skip some. For example, you can go from the “Honeymoon” phase directly to the “Nirvana” phase, or you can go from the “Nirvana” phase back to the “Disenchanted” phase. The good thing is that no matter how you arrive at the “Disenchanted” phase, you can move out.
If you feel you’re stuck in the “Disenchanted” phase right now, I have a free 5 step guide to help you get out of this phase. Just click on the link below to get it.
5 Simple Steps guide
Link to the TEDx presentation