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5 emotional stages of retirement

Did you know there are five emotional stages of retirement? Discover the emotional signs you need to retire with McCarthy Stone’s expert guide.

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Health and wellbeing
Posted 31 May 2024
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How can retirement affect you emotionally?

Retirement means different things to different people. Some people thrive on working long after the traditional retirement age, while others are keen to retire early.  While the age that you retire depends on personal preferences, finances and your lifestyle, there are emotional signs that you may be ready to retire too. If you feel that you don’t enjoy work anymore and that it’s getting in the way of the life you want to lead, then it may be time to seriously think about your future. It could mean you’re in the first of the five emotional stages of retirement.

What are the 5 emotional stages of retirement?

Retirement, like all major life changes takes adjustment and brings up a range of feelings from excitement to fear. From pre-planning to contentment, we’ll explain each stage and how to work through it, so you can enjoy the happy retirement you deserve.

1. The pre-retirement stage

The five to ten years before retirement is known as pre-retirement. It’s when you start to change your mindset from growing you career to financial planning for when you retire. It’s also the time to consider what you want from retirement. Do you want to downsize? Where do you want to live?  What do you want to do? How will you fill your time? What adventures will you have?

Emotionally this is an exciting time, but it’s also completely normal to have doubts and fears. Creating a clear retirement plan can help you to feel more in control.

a man and woman posing for a picture by the water

2. The honeymoon stage

The first months or even years of retirement often feel like a holiday. You’re free to do exactly what you want to do when you want to. Seeing friends and family. Travelling. Indulging in hobbies. This is a positive time where you can enjoy total freedom. The only concern is that at some point these feeling of liberation and excitement are bound to end, as retirement living becomes the new normal.

3. The stagnating stage

After the initial excitement wears off, you may find yourself feeling dissatisfied with your new life. Without a clear timetable and set routine you can start to feel lonely, bored and lacking in purpose. Understanding that this is a typical response can help you to find the motivation and inspiration you need to get to the next stage.

4. The finding your spark stage

It takes concerted effort to get out of a rut, but the rewards are worth it. It’s time to leave your comfort zone, meet new people, try new things and re-find your purpose in life. Fill your calendar with interesting things to do. Contact old friends. Try out the clubs in your local community. Make sure fitness is part of your routine.

Regularly looking after grandchildren can give a tremendous amount of joy, while volunteering gives you the satisfaction of doing good as well as being a way of meeting new people. Perhaps a dog will give you the incentive you need to walk every day?  Or some people even want to go back to work, perhaps starting a whole new career based on a passion.

5. The contentment stage

Just like starting a new school or a new job, adjusting to retirement takes time and effort. But persevere, as you find activities and a lifestyle that suits you, you’ll soon be settled into your new routine and enjoying your new life. As with any stage, things will change, but if you maintain a busy calendar and social circle, then you will always have a support network to rely on and something to look forward to.

What is the hardest part of retirement?

Battling boredom, loneliness and lack of purpose is the toughest part of retirement. It is easy to lose confidence if you don’t have a set routine, so push yourself to reach out to family and friends if you’re feeling isolated. Community clubs, voluntary groups and things like walking or swimming clubs always welcome new members and you’ll be surprised by how much better an activity will make you feel.

Are people happier when they retire?

According to SunLife’s Happiness after 50 report, happiness rises as we age, with 55% of over 70s reporting high happiness.  Almost 9 out of 10 respondents say that family and friends are the key to happiness — a clear winner, however, health, money, hobbies, pets and travel are also popular.

Retire the right way with McCarthy Stone

We’re the experts in providing apartments, bungalows and coach houses set within vibrant and sociable communities with amenities, services and activities that ensure you’ll enjoy a fun and fulfilling retirement. Search for a retirement home near you today.

Got a question? We’d love to hear from you. Send us a message online or call our friendly team on 0800 201 4811 today.


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