Another Cake? – The Five Phases of Retirement

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This is the second cake photo that I have shared in just a few weeks.  As you can see, last week was my 50th birthday and my wife was kind enough to organize an awesome birthday party for me on Saturday night, which came just 19 days after my early retirement party.

It has been an embarrassment of riches for sure and I am so blessed to have wonderful friends & family who want to celebrate these moments with me.

As you can imagine, with two weeks of early retirement under my belt, the key question everyone’s asking me is “what is it like?”  Everyone wants to know how my wife and I are adjusting and how amazing it probably is.

The easy answer is that it feels great – life is unhurried, I’ve slept in a few mornings, went to the afternoon movie on Tuesday, got out on the golf course on Wednesday, enjoyed a game at the ballpark on Thursday, and only did anything like ‘work’ on Friday when I went to a board meeting for a local non-profit.  While I miss the connections and everyday fun I’ve had with colleagues at MegaCorp over the years, I’ve been pretty busy goofing off.  While this sounds well & good, I do know that I am still very early in the transition to a new lifestyle, so I know these observations are preliminary at best.

As I was thinking about where I am at on the transition, I ran across a model of the phases of retirement by Dr. Sara Yogev, who also wrote a book called “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement”.  The phases are outlined in this graphic I found on Bloomberg:

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At this point, I feel like I have been simply in the “Celebration” phase.  I spent the last 30 days finishing up at work, enjoying a wonderful retirement party, went on Spring Break with my family to Florida, and now had a great 50th birthday party.

I am not a person who naturally enjoys being in the spotlight, but I think the ceremony that comes with the Celebration stage is important in bringing closure to a very long period of work & planning.  That said, after 30 days of fun and tribute, I am ready to move on to the reality of organizing a new normal and daily routine.

Finding this new life will come with the fun of the “Honeymoon” stage, which I’m hopeful will last quite a while.  I’m excited to get the calendar out and start planning activities. The weather has turned sensational and there is no shortage of new opportunities!

Image Credit:; Bloomberg




28 thoughts on “Another Cake? – The Five Phases of Retirement

  1. I’m so far from retirement but I’ve heard so many times that if you don’t have a plan in retirement, many people wither away or even die shortly after retiring! Of course there are those that flourish in all their new activities, but for others, without work to give them a schedule, a “purpose” and something to do to keep them busy, they age very very quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! – People use the acronym FIRE for financial independence & retired early, but FIRE-UP might be better. The UP can stand for having a “Useful Purpose” to focus on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure it is all about finding a new routine. If getting out to golf regularly this summer is part of that routine, I think that sounds pretty nice! Enjoy.

    The Green Swan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, I seem to busy to find a routine! Everyday different things are planned and everyday I get sidetracked – in a good way! Thanks for the comment!


    1. Thanks, Brian – variety is the spice of life and life is coming with a lot of variety right now!


  3. Thanks for sharing the 5 stages–it makes sense that one would walk through these over time. It probably feels like you are on vacation at first, I imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely feels like vacation right now … even if I’m not doing anything but planning out our next vacation (Japan!)


    1. I’m pretty good at scheming up things to do. My wife says I am incapable of “truly retiring” – whatever that means!


    1. Wouldn’t it be great if the newness of early retirement did last YEARS? I’m guessing a month or two is probably typical. I think I’ll ask folks over on the forums what there experience has been.


  4. That’s super interesting — I haven’t seen that phase breakdown before. I hope your honeymoon phase lasts a good, long time! I wish that more people would put more thinking into the preparation and reorientation phases, but I suspect it’s easier to focus on the celebration. That sure seems like it’s a lot of fun! And I’m glad you’ve let people celebrate you so that you get the benefit of the ceremony, and it feels like a real transition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – they have been fun to share. When I was working toward early retirement, I loved to read stories like these. There aren’t a lot of them out there – most blogs are people working toward early retirement, or already retired.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had not seen that stages description before. At month 19, I’m still a bit in Honeymoon, enjoying the freedom. I recognize the Reality, but not with boredom nor depression. Maybe because I started Reorientation quickly, finding things that created routine, and dealt with the needs for professional achievement and social connectedness. Yet, my routine still feels like freedom, as I choose what I do any given week. Even if I take a month off from blogging (yes, nothing posted in 3 weeks, nothing drafted even), it’s really my choice of activity (upped outdoor activity as spring sprung!). I think your pre-planning will also slide you into Reorientation routines and hopefully keep the Honeymoon sense of freedom going. Guess I’m not a fan of this stages model!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – I don’t think it is a linear model. I think depending on the day, I am already starting to feel like I am playing in different phases at once.


  6. Happy birthday! I have skipped ahead for you to the Honeymoon Stage, where it advises that you should “realize that you will soon tire of your new found freedom.” – Nuh uh…not necessarily gonna happen! We’ve been at this for 5 years, (I started at 51), and I haven’t gotten “tired of the freedom” yet. The voyage is what you make it! Enjoy this beautiful weather and tee it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you say that – I posted this on early forum and everyone hated that exact line!


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