Retirement is a major transition that unfolds over many years, as we move from the life we know into the life we will get to know. Retirement can trigger feelings of excitement and liberation, but also fear and anxiety. For many people retirement entails a leap of faith after decades of routine.
Many people experiencing the steps to retirement do not realize how dramatically their lives will change.
Many people are financially able to retire but are not ready to retire because their job is their identity...without work, what and/or who are they?
Some people spend more time planning a vacation than planning retirement. A vacation is over in a short period of time. Retirement lasts a lifetime. It's very important to think about your identity and what you're losing, and how you get a new identity.
There are no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution. Constructing a framework for your retirement should start at least three to five years before the planned date. (The accumulation of retirement funds starts years earlier.)
Many pre-retirees do not fully comprehend how dramatically their lives will change.
Perhaps no other stage of life triggers such intense feelings of excitement and liberation. It can also cause fear and anxiety.
Some people are lucky and know exactly what their retirement looks like, while others must figure it out as they reach their goals.
Three years to retirement - anticipation: After you're past the imagination stage and its fantasies, hopes and wishes, you reach the anticipation stage. This is reality. Money matters, but there's plenty of guidance for retirees about your financial portfolio; but what about your emotional portfolio.
Being emotionally grounded going into retirement will probably lead to better, more mindful financial decisions in retirement. Maybe you will be surprised and discover retired life requires less money than you expect.
In the anticipation stage, what are your plans on how you'll spend your time in retirement. Retirement is not the end of work but the beginning of a late-career transition. Identifying goals in retirement and having perseverance in pursuing them leads to better retirement.
One year to retirement - check-in: What are you going go do the first month after retirement? What will you be doing six months after you reach retirement? After you have visited with the grandchildren and have done the traveling, what are you going to do day by day?
Year 1 of retirement - liberation: You made it; you're free to be...who, exactly? The initial "honeymoon" period may be exciting when being old is new again. Often, the loss of structure and routine can cause sadness and depression.
Learn how to have fun again, to make new friends, to have less structure, to try something and fail at it. Take a deep breath. Be resilient and resourceful. Discover all the opportunities available in liberation.
Three years post-retirement - reorientation: The honeymoon is over and it has been over for a while. You are a year or so into the reorientation stage of retirement. You've taken twists and turns, and, finally, you are settling in. Retirement is a reality.
Retirement is a time to reinvent yourself and pursue what you've always wanted but never dared to chase. Instead of finishing the book, add a chapter.
As the reorientation stage unfolds over a decade or two, start paying attention to your legacy. This is the reconciliation stage. It's not about material wealth you leave in a will; it's how you will be remembered. This is an opportunity of a lifetime---the chance to distribute the wealth of knowledge, depth and wisdom you've acquired just by being alive.
All these steps required planning and continuously adjusting to circumstances.