Retirement is NOT a one-time event


When it comes to retirement, we take inventory of our portfolio. But as important is taking an inventory of our lives.


Retirement is not only about getting that coveted sum of money. It can be an existential crisis.


What are you retiring from? What are you going into? When does a homemaker retire? When does one retire from being a parent? When does one retire from being the best person you can be? When does one retire from being a sibling? When does one retire from being a spouse?


Is retirement only about falling off the demographic cliff and being told not to come to work anymore? While that may be the conventional view, here’s what to remember.


Retirement is not a destination.


Retirement is not a one-time event.


Retirement is not a homogeneous phase.


We all plan for retirement. And it is crucial. How much must be the nest egg? How must the transition take place? Are you going to transition into it by going part time? Or are you going to pursue a hobby? Or are you going to make the switch to being a consultant? Or are you going to explore with a new career?


It is a new stage in one’s life, but a multi-phase journey.


Professor Robert Atchley described retirement as a transitional process over different phases.


  1. Preretirement. I am so looking forward to retiring.
  2. Honeymoon. The taste of freedom. Finally, I am free. I can relax, I can unwind.
  3. Disappointment. Disenchantment. So this is it?
  4. Reorientation. What am I doing? Who am I? What gives me meaning?
  5. Stability. A new routine is established.
  6. Adaptation. Lifestyle changes are made to adjust to old age and longevity.


These phases are not a sequence of events that everyone goes through. Nor are they connected with some chronological age. The duration of each phase and complexity depend on individual circumstances. But they are definitely thought provoking and serve as a useful model.


Retirement in your 60s will be quite different from retirement in your 80s. Not only will your level of activity and dependence differ, but also the financial outgo. In the initial year, travel may take predominance. Later on, the focus might be on healthcare. Each phase will have its own opportunities and challenges and moments – death of a spouse, deteriorating medical conditions, travel, marriage of children, birth of grandchildren, and so on.


Hence, while you plan for retirement, don’t forget to also plan through retirement. What sort of lifestyle do you plan to maintain? How do you plan to spend your time? What do you really plan to do once you quit the 9-to-5 routine?


You need to approach it from different perspectives: existential, financial, emotional. There is the psychological and behavioural distancing of oneself from the workforce. But there is also the reality of new social roles, expectations, challenges and responsibilities.


I reiterate what I wrote at the start: Have clarity on what you are retiring from, and what you are entering into.


Source- Morningstar

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