The 7 Stages of Retirement or is it 6?

Unbeknownst to myself, the day I started working I entered into the first stage of retirement, which is a bold statement. In 1975 a professor of gerontology named Robert Atchley identified seven stages of retirement and throughout time academia has reduced the stages to 6.


The first state is known as Pre-retirement “the planning time”, and for as long as I can remember I was planning my retirement. Granted I had no idea what the journey I was about to experience entailed or what retirement really meant. I was taught at an early age to save money so when I got old I could have a good life. As adolescents along with the kids in our neighborhood I would do about anything to make money; from hosting carnivals and candy sales to mowing lawns. I started to understand the concept of retirement while I was in the Marine Corps and at 18 didn’t take advantage of the pension I could have received at the young age of 38.

After I left the Marine Corps and started working in the “real world” I happened to fall into employment that was represented by the Teamsters. You may have heard a lot of horror stories about unions but one thing that cannot be denied is, as a Teamster you understand retirement and pensions. I believe most people know that retirement is coming and try and do everything they can to save for it and dream of what they will do when it arrives.


The second stage “retirement” is what we have been waiting for. What a great feeling it was not to punch a time clock for the first time in 30 years. This is the stage of my endless vacation, where I get to play basketball every day, go biking, kayaking, hiking, working on the house and visiting all the family and friends I never had time to see. It is called the “honeymoon” stage I guess because it isn’t supposed to last. With my optimism I don’t seeing it ending anytime soon. Some of you are fortunate enough to retiree alongside your partner. If you happen to be in my situation and have to wait for your better half, wouldn’t it be safe to say the “honeymoon” hasn’t started yet?


During this stage you might have the feeling retirement isn’t a permanent vacation after all. You may also experience boredom, disillusionment and feel useless. Personally, I haven’t experienced this stage yet and understand that if and when I do that it is completely normal reminding myself that I am only half way through my journey.

The last three stages are reorientation, routine and termination. I will address those stages in a future post.