Going through a major life-changing event such as a marriage, divorce, or migrating to a new country often requires an emotional adjustment period. This is also true for moving into retirement life. However, while family-related issues such as divorce and marriage have been studied extensively over the past few decades by researchers, the psychological and emotional impacts of retirement have not seen the same attention until only recently. In fact, there are 6 stages of retirement that retirees go through when adjusting to their new, post-retirement life:
Before Retirement: Planning and Preparations
During our working years, we often understand that retirement is a distant but slowly-approaching stage of life. As such, we work hard to save up but can sometimes forget to consider what exactly would we be doing once we reach actual retirement itself? It is a common technique to just cross the bridge when we get to it. After all, it can be difficult to visualize what life might entail 20 or 30 years down the line, and the pressures of adult life certainly do not give free time to mull it through.
Last Day of Work
This is, of course, the shortest stage in the process of retiring; the actual discontinuation of employment. This is often followed by a farewell party or dinner to celebrate the milestone and bid farewell to co-workers. Like the ceremony that denotes the start of a marriage, a farewell celebration commemorates your transition from working to retirement life – a big life change!
First Taste of Freedom
Honeymoon periods are most often felt in a new relationship or in the days after a wedding. It can also be felt in the period that follows the retirement celebration when you suddenly have all the time in the world to do the things you have always wanted to. Pick up new hobbies, visit loved ones, travel to new places – everything that you did not have the chance to do when still burdened by work.
When the emotional high of retirement wears off, many retirees start to experience a feeling of letdown. After chasing this retirement for so long, now that you are finally here and all is done and over, what else is there to look forward to? Retirement is not always going to be a vacation; there are other issues that can plague a retirement life if not managed well, including boredom, feeling useless, loneliness, and disillusionment.
Luckily, you won’t feel down in the dumps forever. After some time, we adapt to the new lifestyle, landscape, and circumstances. A new identity can be crafted to better navigate the current life we lead. “Who am I” and “what is my purpose” are both pertinent questions. Whilst this is likely the most difficult phase in the retirement experience, it is important to take the time and effort to get through it.
After going through the previous 5 stages, you should have laid the groundwork for a new life, with a new schedule and identity. Whilst the process may seem long, each phase’s duration depends entirely on your circumstances. However, you can be assured that every stage brings you closer to a familiar and easy routine. Finally, you can enjoy post-retirement life with a strong sense of self and purpose.