Hang up the work clothes, turn off the alarm clock and forget about those “back-to-work blues.” You made it! Welcome to retirement.
While many people view retirement as an event, we like to think of it as a process that includes several different stages or “stops” along the way. Depending on what stage you find yourself in, your feelings towards retirement may vary a great deal. In fact, according to researcher Robert Atchley, retirement can be broken down into six distinct phases; two of which we will discuss in this post: The Honeymoon Phase and the Disenchantment Phase.
“Welcome to Retirement, Where Every Day Is Saturday” or, The Honeymoon Phase
Ah, freedom. Freedom to do whatever you want. No more work deadlines, difficult co-workers, or stressful projects. Instead, your days will be filled with traveling, visiting family, and hobbies that have always taken a back seat to your career. If you just entered retirement, you’re likely to be in the Honeymoon Phase. You’re enjoying your new-found freedom and the time to relax and rest. Right now, retirement is everything you dreamed it would be: a perpetual weekend, an endless vacation, and time to do all the things you never had time for before.
But, as we all know, the honeymoon doesn’t last forever.
“Welcome to Retirement…Is This Really It?” or, The Disenchantment Phase
We all know the saying: What goes up, must come down. No one can live their full retirement in the Honeymoon Phase; it’s simply unrealistic. Oftentimes, immediately following the Honeymoon Phase, retirees will enter into a phase known as the Disenchantment Phase. The “magic” of retirement has worn off and now you’re left wondering: “Is this really it? Is this all there is?” People who find themselves in this phase often feel a sense of letdown, loneliness, boredom or disappointment. Maybe you’ve fallen into a rut or are simply finding it difficult to fill your calendar with activities. Or maybe you’re even struggling with a lost sense of identity and purpose. Either way, this is not what you signed up for and certainly not what you envisioned for the remainder of your retirement.
How To Handle Each Phase
If you find yourself in the honeymoon phase of retirement, enjoy it! Throw away the alarm clock, break open a new book, travel to a new destination, enjoy the company of your spouse. But also realize that it won’t last forever. Every phase passes, eventually the initial magic of retirement will wear off, and you’ll begin to settle into a routine.
If you find yourself in the disenchantment phase of retirement, don’t worry! Just like the honeymoon, this too is a phase that will pass. Take a look at all of the hobbies you tried during the honeymoon phase and commit to a few of them. Maybe you enjoy traveling, outdoor activities or spending time with your family. Or, maybe you’d rather spend your time coaching or tutoring. Think about what you’ve always wanted to do and pursue that whole-heartedly. The sky is truly the limit!
If you need some ideas on retirement activities, check out another one of our blog posts.
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