Are You Ready to Retire?

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Are You Ready to Retire?

When my wife describes her vision of retirement she has dreams of never-ending vacations, warm weather, and delicious food without any caloric ramifications. She, like many others, have utopian views of retirement. And she, like many others, find it challenging to plan for the reality of unstructured life.

The AgeLab at MIT has done research on what they call the "8,000 Days" of retirement. Because people are living longer, retirement could be upwards of twenty years (20x365 = 7300 days). Certainly life will look differently over those 8,000 days, and the AgeLab describes four distinct phases of retirement; honeymoon phase, big decision phase, navigating longevity phase, and solo journey phase. 

"Retired: (adjective) young at heart, slightly older in other places."  - anonymous 

Before retirement, it might be useful to spend time exploring what your values are in life. What are the aspects of your life that bring you meaning? For some, this may be social connectedness, for others constant learning and intellectual growth. These values are unlikely to change as you move into retirement, and planning ahead for how to incorporate these values into the different stages of retirement will be essential.

Most successful retirements have a few core features in common: 

  1. Routine
  2. Identified goals
  3. The ability to measure success
  4. Social relationships.

As you work on your financial plan and goals for retirement, make sure to think about how you envision these four different phases. From our perspective, it is easier to figure out when you are financially ready, but far more difficult to determine when you are emotionally ready. In fact, we dedicated a recent podcast to this very point.


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