I recently re-looked at the Robert Atchley (2000) 7 Stages of Retirement. He details the stages from pre-retirement through termination of retirement. I re-read his entry into retirement stage with renewed interest, as I have just passed through this stage (16 months since that day), as well as spoken to many about their own path entering this stage. And I have come to realize my own experience does not match his model!
He identifies 3 key entry paths into the actual retirement stage, and I do know of individuals on each of these paths.
- The Honeymoon Path. This is the path of “one long, lovely vacation.” While I wished we could have immediately entered the travel mode (I have many places on the bucket list), we had family limitations that made an immediate honeymoon path impossible. I envy a bit the folks that are taking off for 10 days in Paris, a trip cross-country, or a month in Rio….and then their next Facebook post comes with still another destination.
- The Rest & Relaxation Path. This is the path of “everyday is a Sunday”. My hubby is on this path. He has his books to read, his movies to watch, the dog to play with, and some grass to mow (as needed). Between a nap or two, and maybe dinner out if I insist.
- The Immediate Routine Path. This path is for the pre-planners who have the giving-back board membership lined up, the second career already part-time established, the time with grandkids pre-scheduled, and the exercise program fully in place. They slide seamlessly into retirement and just don’t understand why I am experiencing any angst!
Atchley refers to the stage after the retirement entry stage as Disappointment. Often those who began a Honeymoon Path or Rest & Relaxation Path find those paths to become a bit boring or unfulfilling. When I explored this stage a bit more, I found it intriguing that it’s also a stage of uncertainty and missing aspects of the work environment like feelings of accomplishment and connection to people. Atchley’s work indicated that Reorientation follows Disappointment, hopefully quickly. Reorientation is designing the retirement life you want to live. This is the stage I have been in for the past year and I would hypothesize that it could be another entry to retirement path.
I do love that Atchley states “mastering a comfortable and rewarding retirement routine is the ultimate goal of retirement.” The Retirement Routine stage is the long-term stage of retirement, and one that my retirement transition planning has been targeted to create.
So my experience in retirement entry has been one of re-orientation from the start! While I am only an N=1 versus his more in-depth sociological paper, I expect some others might also be on a similar entry to retirement path. Learning the tools to create the retirement life you want is what I am blogging about, so feel free to steal and reapply, even if you are entering your Reorientation stage at a different point of your retirement journey.
What I find exciting is I know I now have tools in hand to re-create my vision and action plans again and again, if/when some of my retirement routine plans don’t work out as anticipated or as life happens. And perhaps I will take a Honeymoon, when my hubby gets bored with Rest & Relaxation and/or our family limitations are alleviated.