It’s never too early or too late to begin a life plan for retirement. You’ll probably revise it many times before you reach retirement age, whether that’s in 5 years or 25. You’re less likely to have difficulty adjusting to retirement if you’ve thought in advance about what you want it to be like. Planning offers several benefits:
- Gathering information for your retirement helps clarify your options and may lead to some surprising opportunities.
- Having a plan can help you deal with the loss of a career and a work identity.
- Planning is an exercise in goal setting that can help you accomplish more and feel fulfilled.
Phases of Retirement
Like going through adolescence or becoming a parent, retirement is a time of change that can cause turmoil and stress—as well as tremendous personal growth. Retirement changes your lifestyle, your perceptions of yourself, and what you do with your time. As with any period of change, retirement is different for every person. However, there are some general stages that most people go through:
- Preretirement—As you enter this phase, you’ll face the realization that retirement isn’t just some far-off time in your future; it’s imminent. During this phase, primary tasks involve getting ready for retirement.
- The honeymoon—This phase provides a time for you to enjoy yourself as well as plan for the routines and life that will follow. It’s a good time to start considering the big picture.
- Disenchantment—For some people, a period of disenchantment and sometimes depression follows the honeymoon. During this time, the main tasks are adjustment and reflection. (Taking the time to adequately plan for retirement can help you avoid disenchantment.)
- Reorientation—This is when you develop ideas and start moving toward a more balanced life and diversified set of interests, relationships, and routines. The tasks of this phase involve balancing and diversification.
- Stability—In this phase, you’re not just thinking about and planning for your retirement, you’re living it. Here, the final goals are to determine for yourself who you want to be, what you want to do, and how you want to do it.