5 Stages of Retirement: Learn How To Thrive

5 stages of retirement

Retirement is a significant milestone; it’s the end of one phase of your life and the beginning of a new phase filled with possibilities. However, it is not just a one-time event, but a process involving several stages. Understanding these stages can help retirees plan for their future and maximize their retirement years.

There are five main stages of retirement that most people go through. The lead-up to the retirement phase is the pre-retirement stage, which typically starts a decade before retirement. During this stage, individuals start thinking about retirement and planning for it.

The first retirement stage is the honeymoon phase, the period immediately after retirement when retirees enjoy their newfound freedom and retirement lifestyle. The following four stages are disenchantment, reorientation, stability, and reconciliation, each with unique challenges and opportunities.

Pre-Retirement Phase

Pre-retirement considerations refer to the financial, lifestyle, and health-related factors individuals should consider before retiring. These include making a retirement plan, assessing savings and investments, creating a retirement budget, considering sources of retirement income, estimating future healthcare expenses, and evaluating potential long-term care needs. 

These considerations also involve deciding when to start taking Social Security benefits, selecting retirement dates, and determining whether to continue working part-time during retirement. Considering these factors, you can better prepare for retirement and make informed decisions about your future.

Overall, this stage before retirement is a critical time for planning and preparation. 

stages of retirement

I did it; now what?

As someone who chose to retire early, I quickly understood that leaving my place of work for the final time was only the beginning of the story. After moving past the euphoria of not having to watch the clock, it started to feel a bit like being on a roller coaster.

I went from the high of being ecstatic that I no longer reported to a boss to being depressed that I no longer reported to a boss, all this in the same day. I slowly started to understand that it was a process, and once I understood that I could manage it without second-guessing myself or being in a constant state of panic.

Let’s discuss the five main stages of retirement and how you can recognize and manage them as you move to this new phase of your life. 

The Five Stages

The Honeymoon Stage of Retirement

The first stage, or the honeymoon phase of retirement, is the period immediately following retirement when everything feels new and exciting. You finally have the time to do everything you’ve been putting off for years. You might travel, pursue hobbies, or spend more time with family and friends. During this stage, you’ll likely feel a sense of freedom and relief that you no longer have to work. 

Disenchantment Stage of Retirement

The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever, and many retirees enter the disenchantment stage. When the novelty of retirement wears off and the reality of not having a structured routine sets in, you might feel bored or unfulfilled and miss the social connections that came with your job. It’s essential to recognize that this is a normal retirement stage and find ways to stay engaged and active.

Reorientation Stage of Retirement

In the reorientation stage, you find a new purpose and meaning in retirement. You might begin volunteering, taking classes, or pursuing new hobbies. You can explore new interests and find ways to stay engaged with the world around you. Many retirees find that this stage is where they feel more comfortable with their new lifestyle and find a new sense of identity outside of work.

Stability Stage of Retirement

In the stability stage, you’ve found your purpose and entirely accepted yourself as a retiree. You’ll feel contentment and peace with your new lifestyle during this stage. You find a routine that you are comfortable with, and you accept the changes that retirement has brought to your life. It is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and appreciate the time you have left.

The Reconciliation Phase of Retirement

The final stage of retirement is the reconciliation phase. In this period, you come to terms with the fact that this is what the rest of your life will be like. You might consider end-of-life care and plan how you want to spend your final years. It’s essential to approach this stage with acceptance and peace, knowing you’ve lived a full and rewarding life.

Being aware of and preparing for the five stages of retirement can help you prepare for the changes that retirement will bring to your life. While everyone’s journey is different, knowing what to expect can help you navigate the ups and downs of this new chapter in your life.

adjusting to retirement

Adjusting to Retirement

Adjustment Period

After years of following a routine, retirement can be a big adjustment. It’s important to give yourself time to adjust to this new phase of life. For me, the first few weeks of retirement felt like a vacation. Then reality set in, and I realized this would be my new normal. At this stage, feeling a sense of loss or uncertainty is common. It is important to remember that it’s a natural part of the process.

New Routine

Creating a new routine can help you adjust to retirement. Without a work schedule, losing track of time and falling into a rut can be easy. Setting a daily schedule helped me stay productive and gave me a sense of purpose. I started and maintained a regular exercise routine and finally started my online business.

New Hobbies

Retirement is a great time to explore new hobbies or interests. It can be anything from learning a new language to taking up gardening. Not only does it give you something to do, but it can also help you meet new people and stay mentally active. Trying new things helped me stay engaged and excited about life.


Travel is a popular retirement activity, and for a good reason. Without work constraints, you can travel whenever and wherever you want. It could be a weekend getaway or a month-long trip to Europe; travel can be a great way to explore new places and make memories. Ensure that you budget accordingly and plan.


Volunteering in your community allows you to give back while staying engaged and active. Whether it’s helping out at a local charity or mentoring young people, there are countless ways to get involved. 

quality of life in retirement

Quality of Life

In retirement, you have the time to enjoy your new life, take care of yourself, and pursue your passions. The quality of life you experience during retirement depends on how well you plan for it. In this section, I will discuss the different aspects of quality of life during retirement and how to achieve it.

Identity and Purpose

Retirement is a time of significant change and adjustment. It is essential to find new ways to define yourself and your purpose. This includes helping a charity, pursuing interests, or taking on a new challenge of starting a business. By finding new ways to contribute and stay engaged, you can maintain a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Health and Well-being

Retirement is a time to take care of yourself and prioritize your health. This includes regular exercise, healthy eating, and regular check-ups with your doctor. Maintaining social connections and staying engaged with your community are also essential. By caring for your physical and mental health, you can enjoy a higher quality of life during retirement.

Lifestyle and Routine

Retirement is a time to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle and establish a new routine, including travel, pursuing interests, or spending time with loved ones. Finding a balance between leisure and productivity is vital, as is selecting a routine that works for you. By creating a fulfilling and enjoyable lifestyle, you can experience a higher quality of life during retirement.

Goals and Dreams

Retirement is a time to pursue your goals and dreams and can include learning a new skill, starting a business, or traveling to new places. Setting realistic goals and developing a plan to achieve them is essential. By pursuing your goals and dreams, you can maintain a sense of purpose and fulfillment during retirement.


In conclusion, retirement, broken down into five distinct stages: pre-retirement, honeymoon, disenchantment, reorientation, and stability, has unique challenges and rewards. By understanding these stages, retirees can better prepare for the transition and make the most of their retirement years.

During the pre-retirement stage, individuals consider retirement and plan for the future. While it can be a time of excitement and anticipation, it can also be a time of anxiety and uncertainty. Setting realistic goals and developing a plan for achieving them is essential.

Overall, retirement is a journey with many ups and downs. You can make the most of your golden years by understanding the various stages and proactively planning and preparing.

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