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Can You Skip the Disenchantment?

When we talk about major life changes, we don’t always think of the things that happen later in our lives – like retirement. But it is indeed a major life change. Being prepared and understanding The 5 Stages of Retirement That No One Talks About can help. The third stage is the most difficult one to move through, and it’s especially true if you’re not prepared:


The unfortunate reality is that when we build something up so big and expect it to be a dream that we’ve worked towards our entire life, we’re bound to find some disappointment in it. And we definitely build up retirement like that, don’t we?

So once the honeymoon stage starts to fade we end up being faced with all sorts of feelings that we didn’t realize we’d find. Some people suddenly realize that they’ve been defined by their jobs, titles, and roles throughout their lives. They find themselves feeling lost without those definitions to guide them. Others struggle with the concept of longevity, as it applies to themselves or those around them. They may feel panicked about how much time they have left or feel like they’ve wasted too much time in their life. For people who’ve been the main “breadwinner” in their household, retirement can mean a major shift in their relationship with finances. Some people have a partner who has retired already while others are the first to retire while their partner needs to continue in the workforce.

Most of us find ourselves faced with more than one of these factors that feed into our disenchantment and can cause an identity crisis, depression, and health decline. How long this stage lasts depends most on how prepared for it we are and what we do when it happens. Here are some things you can do to help yourself prepare and also cope:

Talk it out. Have conversations with your closest confidants where you can explore how retirement – and all of its nuances might feel. Discuss what sorts of things you might do to overcome the struggles you’ll face. Have this conversation with some people who’ve already been retired a while and ask about their experiences and observations. Being able to discuss the possibilities with those who know YOU best and also with people who have their own lived experiences will give you a good crosshatch of things to consider and plan for.

Qualify your losses. While we often celebrate the end of our careers as we move into retirement, the truth is that we lose a lot in that. It’s okay to grieve the end of your career and all that went with it. You may find that your friends from the workforce no longer have time for you or that you don’t have much to talk about. You may also find that you feel less relevant to society when your role in it changes. It’s normal to feel sad or angry or however you feel. Allowing those feelings to exist and be validated will help you make peace with them sooner.

Do new things. One of the best ways to prepare for the downsides of retirement is actually to avoid them. I don’t mean avoid dealing with them – I mean avoid allowing them to become problems in your life. Try new hobbies, take new classes and join new clubs early in your retirement. Don’t wait until you get bored. If you wait until the disenchantment hits to start trying new things, trying new things and making new friends is much harder. Get out there early, while you’re still in that honeymoon stage glow and enjoying everything around you. That way, when some darker days arrive, you’ll have connections and outlets to help you get through it.

Some of the things surrounding retirement may seem daunting, but there are tons of people out there living their best life after retirement. You can, too! Be sure that you take time to plan for the emotional changes in addition to the financial changes that you’re likely to encounter. And if you need help designing your next chapter, I’d love to talk with you about it. Click here to learn about coaching and grab some time on my calendar.

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