How to Transition from Work to Retirement

Transitioning from Work to Retirement

Senior Living

Posted: May 13, 2021

Like other life transitions, retirement can be filled with a variety of challenges and emotions. Along with a new sense of freedom, you may have concerns about finances, or how you’ll spend your time, and if you’ll feel a sense of purpose. While transitioning from work to retirement may be difficult, understanding the common stages of retirement can help you stay healthy and find purpose in this new phase of life.

Common Stages of Retirement

Retiring from a lifetime of working is a process that begins before your last day on the job. Many of us begin dreaming about what retirement will be like well before it’s a possibility. As the age of retirement approaches, there are common stages that people move through. Knowing what to expect in advance can help you ease into this new phase of life.

  • Stage One: Pre-retirement. This can happen several years before your actual retirement, but typically occurs when you realize that retirement is imminent. In this stage, it’s common to be preoccupied with financial concerns but it’s important to begin thinking about emotional changes that you might experience. This is the time to create a vision for what your retirement will look like. Do you want to travel, play golf, keep working part-time? Perhaps you want to move to be closer to family, or stay where you are but downsize your housing? This is the time to hone your vision and discuss it with your partner and family members.
  • Stage Two: Full Retirement or the Honeymoon Stage. This is where the fun can begin! No longer tied to a schedule, your time is your own. You can sleep in, stay up late, read all of those books you’ve been wanting to. There is an excitement and busyness to this stage, catching up with friends and family, starting new hobbies, and getting to the list of things you’ve been dreaming about. It’s good to enjoy this stage, but also to remember that it is temporary.
  • Stage Three: Disenchantment. At this point, you may begin to get bored, feel restless, or wonder if you made a mistake by retiring. People in this stage sense a lack of purpose and may even experience depression or feel lonely and isolated. It’s important to ask for help or talk to your family and friends about your feelings.
  • Stage Four: Reorientation. In reorientation, you begin to evaluate your retirement thus far. You’ve let go of parts of your old “work” identity and begin to see yourself in a new way. Creating a routine and schedule is important in this stage. This is the time to ask yourself what you are hoping to learn, explore, or do in the coming years. The newness of retirement has worn off, and now you can adjust and set new goals for the next phase of life.
  • Stage Five: Stability. Until now, you’ve been settling into what it means to be retired. You are no longer planning or thinking about retirement, but you are living it! This phase doesn’t end, and you can see the big picture and appreciate your new life.

Every retiree goes through these stages at a different pace, and they are not always linear. You may find yourself moving in and out of them for several months or years.

Tips to Stay Physically and Emotionally Healthy

It’s important to stay physically and emotionally healthy during retirement so you can enjoy it! Your day may lack structure and routine and it can be easy to fall into an unhealthy pattern of inertia and isolation. Creating a schedule that includes time for physical exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization is important.

If exercise has never been a part of your life, you don’t want to dive into something too strenuous. Find something you enjoy like walking, hiking, or swimming, and then make it part of your daily routine. Just 30 minutes a day 5 days a week will make a difference. Learning to play a sport or joining a gym can be a great way to meet new people and get exercise at the same time.

Retirement is a good time to commit to good nutrition. Scientists are discovering ways that food is directly related to brain health and mood, including anxiety and depression, both common conditions in older adults. Certain foods have even been correlated with the prevention and/or delay of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Without the proper fuel, our brains cannot function optimally. Read more about the impact of nutrition on older adults.

Loneliness is a common pitfall during retirement. It’s a good idea to engage in activities and establish social networks before retiring. Consider volunteering, joining a club or church while you are still working so that you have friends and relationships outside of your workplace. People are social animals and even though you may enjoy spending time alone, too much isolation can lead to a variety of health problems. Studies show that older adults with a robust social life live longer than those who are more isolated. Read the Secrets to a Happy Retirement from the AARP here.

Planning for a Purposeful Retirement

Because many of us find our identity in our jobs, retirement can cause some retirees to wrestle with their sense of purpose. Purpose is more than having something to do, it’s doing something that has meaning for you. Having something to believe in and practice, like faith, can help you find meaning and purpose. Research shows that seniors who have a sense of purpose live longer than those that don’t. Consider volunteering, mentoring, getting involved in your neighborhood, church, or join with others to support a cause you feel passionate about. Read more about waking up with a sense of purpose.

Considering a Retirement Community

 For some retirees, moving to an independent living community where you can age in place is the perfect solution to finding purpose and staying physically and emotionally healthy. Having access to healthcare, amenities like elevated dining, housekeeping, and planned social activities with a built-in community is a great way to spend retirement.

Surrounded by picturesque mountains, the warm and nurturing atmosphere at Casey’s Pond in Steamboat Springs, Colorado inspires lifelong opportunities for retirees to grow and thrive. As a life plan community, we offer a continuum of care that adapts to your needs as they change over time, truly allowing you to age in place with the security of knowing care is available if you need it.  Our person-centered care empowers residents to pursue personal growth in a caring, pet-friendly community. We focus on wellness and active longevity in all levels of living. Read more about our tight-knit community where residents thrive.

The transition from work to retirement is exciting and challenging. As you prepare and plan for retirement, our community of experts is available to help answer questions you have and point you to helpful resources. Contact us today for more information and read what residents have to say about life at Casey’s Pond.

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