“Retirement is a journey with five distinct stages, and some people get stuck. Understand them, know which stage you are in, and know how to move forward.” -Alan Spector
I recently attended a conference where I had the privilege to hear from author Alan Spector. He and his partners interviewed hundreds of retirees to discover what creates a fulfilling retirement and wrote a book (or a guide, really) to help others with this life transition. It has numerous stories, exercises, and questions to assist with the non-financial, “life planning” aspect of retiring. Since most of you (our clients) are in or nearing retirement, this is something that I have a deep interest in as well. There are so many great takeaways and lessons the book provides, and I would highly encourage anyone interested to check it out (link here) and/or review their website (link here) to explore this for you or someone you know.
One of the enlightening sections of the book is the “Five Stages of Retirement.” I literally can see the faces of various clients across all stages when I read through these. As I share these with you, see if you can identify yourself with one of these stages (borrowed from the book, with permission from Alan):
- Anticipation: This is the stage that can start up to five years before retirement. Your opportunity is to use this stage to begin creating your (life) plan as early as possible… You likely feel a lot of excitement and hopefulness through this stage, as well as some level of anxiety and discomfort. The end of this stage is the retirement day itself. The next day, you will not go to work, at least not the work that has likely been your primary career for some time.
- Honeymoon: You are now retired and it is great. You have the freedom to do what you want to do; to just be you. No alarm clock, no business attire, no rush-hour drive. You are elated and enthusiastic and feel a sense of relief, independence, and discovery. Many retirees are in the honeymoon stage for up to two years. For some, however, the honeymoon is short.
- Disenchantment: The honeymoon is over. You may still be doing the things that you were doing during the honeymoon stage, but you are now asking yourself “Is this all there is?” You will know if you are in the Disenchantment stage when you feel letdown, loneliness, boredom, or disappointment; you may even be depressed. Some estimates are that 30% of retirees experience some level of depression over the years. The disenchantment stage lasts for varying stages of time, and you can move in and out of it as life circumstances change. Sadly, some people get into disenchantment and never get out. We want to help this never happen to you, Alan writes.
- Rejuvenation: This is the stage in which you take stock of your situation and climb out of disenchantment. You are adapting to the reality of retirement and how it is affecting you. You are discovering what makes you happy and satisfied; what brings meaning to your life. You feel re-energized and engaged. If you develop and implement your plan before you retire (during the anticipation stage), you can minimize or perhaps even avoid the disenchantment stage, feeling continually revitalized.
- Fulfillment: This is your ultimate retirement goal–a life filled with connectedness, giving back, pursuing your passions, personal growth, and fun. Your attitude about life is positive. You have taken steps to keep your energy high. You have matched your lifestyle to your available resources. And, you are in touch with your life purpose and core values.
I’ve learned over the years that retirement planning is not all about the financial side, although this is obviously an important piece of the puzzle. We want to see nothing more than clients being rejuvenated and even fulfilled while living their best years. No matter what stage you’re in, Alan’s guidebook is a fantastic way to help you answer meaningful questions so that you can enhance your retirement years.