July 3, 2010

Satisfying Retirement: Stage Three Arrives

As previous blogs have detailed, I believe there are three basic stages that occur during the transition from work to a retirement lifestyle. The last post dealt with the Second Stage. That is when negative thoughts and emotions conspire to pull you down from the euphoria of the end of your working life, or what I call The First Stage.

Now What?

So, what happens next? Luckily, for most retirees, the Third Stage of your retirement can become the most satisfying. This is when you achieve a healthy balance between euphoria, panic, and reality. It is when you realize that you have the ability to make it all work for you. A happy, satisfying lifestyle is very possible. This isn't a period of Pollyanna thinking. It is a time when you can more calmly look at your current position, your options, and your dreamed-about future and decide what you can accomplish. It is a time of possible personal growth and development like you haven't experienced since you were in your 20's. Emotional and intellectual growth opportunities abound. Time really is your ally.

Personally, I originally thought my wife and I would take a long cruise at least once a year, spend the hot Arizona summers someplace else, like Hawaii, and maybe buy an RV and explore the country. Almost ten years later none of that has happened. Why?  We retired before our financial resources were sufficient to turn those dreams into fact. But, that was a deliberate choice on our part. To continue working would not be worth the cost to our relationship or our health just so we could make those "dreams" happen. Also, we discovered the absolute joy of spending much more time with family and friends and deepening our spiritual life. We had always built our married life on experiences over things and that wasn't about to change.

Did I go through the anguish of Stage Two? Absolutely, and I still do every once in awhile during the nasty economic conditions of the last few years. But, I have developed the insight of what was really important to me and my family so I can weather the storm, and so can you.

Have you made it to the "good" stage of retirement? How did you know you had figured out the best way to live? Is your satisfying retirement what you expected?


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