5 emotional stages of retirement and useful tips to prepare for them

July 2022
Photgrapher - Photo by Kahar Erbol on Unsplash
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When thinking about retirement, many people focus all their attention on ensuring their finances are in order and ready to fund the lifestyle they hope to enjoy. 

While this is obviously important, it's also wise to consider the emotional aspect of this significant life change.
After decades of working for your living, when you retire, you’ll likely experience a range of emotions. As with any major change in life, you'll find there are different stages as you settle into a new day-to-day reality.

Here are five stages you can expect to encounter and suggestions for ways you can help to prepare yourself.

1. Realisation

When your retirement date arrives and you’re ready to realise your retirement plan, you’re likely to feel mixed emotions.

You may find it hard to say goodbye to your co-workers and sign out for the last time. The idea of facing an unfamiliar future may be daunting.

How to prepare

Before your retirement date arrives, have a plan for how you’ll fill all the free hours you suddenly have. There’s no need to fill every hour of the day but a rough idea of what you’d like to do with your time is a good idea.  

If you’re not sure where to start ask yourself two questions:

  • What do I enjoy doing that I’d love to spend more time doing?
  • What dreams did I used to have?

If you have a partner, talk about this together. Enjoying separate pastimes is fine, but avoid going too far in making different plans for how you’d like to spend your future, as this could create big problems later on.

2. Honeymoon period

This is the time where retirement feels full of freedom and choice. There’s no need to set an alarm or to rush out of the door and face yet another commute. You may have picked up a new hobby, enjoyed a holiday, or simply be spending quality time with family and friends.

How to prepare

Making the most of this period is unlikely to require too much in the way of preparation. You can simply please yourself. 

One thing to beware of, though, is that if you don’t make intentional plans about how you’ll spend your time going forwards, you may find yourself stuck in an unfulfilling rut. So, while you’re enjoying your first few weeks or months of freedom, be sure to think about the long term. 

Rather than flitting from one day to the next with no clear plan, a clear sense of purpose can help provide a clear sense of direction that you can use to guide your life decisions, including how you spend your time.

3. Disenchantment

This is when the gloss of retirement might start to wear off. You may find yourself feeling bored, lacking direction, and possibly suffer from a sense of depression. 

How to prepare

To avoid things starting to feel a too same-y, make a new plan and find ways to mix things up a bit. Maybe you could find a new social group to expand your friendship circle, take up a new hobby or find a fresh challenge.

If you’re looking for inspiration, u3a – the University of the Third Age – run activities across the UK, specifically for retired people. From running to painting, foreign languages to music and theatre, and hiking or kayaking, there’s bound to be something to whet your appetite and spark your imagination.

4. Reorientation 

This is when you may find you’re ready to make some adjustments to improve your happiness and fulfilment in retirement. You may decide that you want to find a new challenge, take on some part-time or consultancy work, or volunteer your time and get involved in a charity or local initiative.

How to prepare

While you may not be ready to consider what a new sense of purpose might entail before you finish work, don’t deny yourself time to think about what you’re passionate about.

What excites and energises you to get out of bed in the morning? Understanding this can help you avoid the sense of loss many people experience when they retire. 

Some thinking time ahead of retirement may lead you to want to take a phased retirement.

Many employers now offer a transitionary period over several years, allowing you to work part-time and get used to having more freedom before you take the step to stop work completely.

Alternatively, you could consider taking on a consultancy role during the early stages of retirement. This gives you an opportunity to share the benefit of your experience while maintaining greater flexibility as a stepping stone to retirement.

For business owners, removing yourself from the business gradually can increase the value for sale as it operates without being so dependent on you. If you’re handing over the reins to your team, a gradual retirement can help smooth the succession process.

5. Stability

This final stage of retirement, also known as the rest of your life, is the time when you should find yourself fully adjusted and acclimatised to your new reality. 
Now that you have worked your way through the rollercoaster of feelings as you adjust to the big life change, hopefully you’ll find contentment. This should allow you to relax and look forward to the rest of your retirement with confidence.

How LEBC can help

Your retirement is likely to be one of the biggest lifestyle changes you will ever face. Whether you are in the process of planning for it, or it is imminent, we provide you with the tools needed to look forward to the next chapter of your life.

We offer all the information and support you need to confidently make the important decisions ahead. Along with the emotional process discussed here, for many, financial security in retirement is often one of the biggest concerns. We will work with you to help ease this worry, allowing you to focus on your future.

Get in touch 

If you’d like to have a chat and find out more about how we can work with you to help you prepare for retirement – financially or emotionally – please email us at clientenquiries@lebc-group.com or call 0800 055 6585.

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