Find Out If You Are Ready to Retire
If you are like most people, when you hear the word retirement you may immediately conjure up thoughts of never-ending vacations, warm weather, complete freedom and flexibility, and delicious food (maybe the last one is just me). The reality is that retirement is not a vacation – it is your next chapter, which could span 2 + decades.
The AgeLab at MIT is a really amazing organization that is dedicated to studying all aspects of ageing. They have done research on what they call the "8,000 Days" of retirement. Certainly, life will look differently over those 8,000 days, and the AgeLab describes four distinct phases of retirement; (1) honeymoon phase, (2) big decision phase, (3) navigating longevity phase, and (4) solo journey phase.
"Retired: (adjective) young at heart, slightly older in other places." - anonymous
Phase 1, the Honeymoon Phase, is the phase that we all picture. But as you just read there are other phases that may be tougher to imagine. It pays dividends to brainstorm, have honest conversations, and plan for these phases.
To give you a head start on the first couple phases, 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. 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:
- Identified goals
- The ability to measure success
- Social relationships.
My wife, Dr. Siperstein, is a Harvard trained psychiatrist that appeared on our “All About Retirement” podcast. She shares her thoughts and insights on how to live a fulfilling live in retirement. It is worth checking out.
Now that you are armed with more knowledge on the first couple phases of retirement, I wanted to shift gears and touch on the last two phases (Phase 3: Navigating Longevity and Phase 4: Solo Journey).
Going back to the AgeLab at MIT…They have identified three questions that can predict future quality of life in these late stages. They include:
- Who will change my light bulb?
- How will I get an ice cream cone?
- Who will I have lunch with?
"The trouble with retirement, is that you never get a day off."
These seeming light questions ask you to consider how you will continue living as you get older. Here are these questions again, showing what they are really asking:
- How will you maintain your home as physical tasks become more challenging?
- What will be your access to transportation so you can continue enjoying the things in life that bring you pleasure?
- Who will be your primary social support as you age?
These questions serve as important conversation starters as you age. I encourage you to reflect on your answers and start a dialogue with the important people in your lives (perhaps over your favorite flavor of ice cream). Facilitating this conversation is essential so that you can be prepared for later.
I would also encourage you to listen to the podcast we did with Deb Burton, gerontologist and founder of Senior's Choice Consulting. She shares her unique perspective on how to safely age in place and care for our loved ones as they age... another episode that is worth a listen!
If you would like to chat about these phases or any other retirement concerns, please feel free to book a meeting: