The Four Phases of Retirement

“Everyone says you’ve got to get ready financially. No, no. You’ve got to get ready psychologically.” — Lee Iacocca

The countdown to retirement on our RV Castaways website has changed from months to days. I must be getting close to retirement now.

88 days.

Dr. Riley Moynes, a fellow Canadian, has published a book, The Four Phases of Retirement, to show me, and others approaching retirement, what to expect.

The first phase is called “Vacation Time”. Extended travel, hobbies, time with family are all hallmarks of this phase. Some retirees never get past the first phase. Perhaps those of us who intend to travel mostly full-time in their motorcoaches hold on to this phase for as long as possible.

Moynes calls the second phase the plunge into the abyss of insignificance and considers this phase to be one of the top traumas that a person will face in their lifetime.

The loss of structure, identity, relationships, purpose and a sense of power can lead to starting the third phase of retirement, the trial and error stage.

If you are to accomplish anything with what time remains, it needs to happen soon. The relevant question is how will you contribute. So, you might try a few things. And if it works out, you enter the fourth and final phase of retirement, reinvented with purpose.

Moynes was asked what percentage of retirees get stuck in the first phase of retirement. He claims that he knows only two people who have remained in the first phase and who claim to be happy there. According to a Harvard study that he cites, the unhappiest retirees had not gone on to do anything productive beyond pleasing themselves.

An interesting and perhaps controversial read. It certainly made me think about what happens next in retirement although I am really looking forward to the first phase. I expect Lorraine and I will continue to be productive contributors to our family, friends and community and I will do everything I can to avoid spending much, if any time, in phase two. Plunging into the abyss of insignificance does not sound like much fun!

You can learn more about the four phases at Moynes’ website here:

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