Retirement Stages

Retirement is a reinvention of who you are. For us, we are right brain people who lived our work lives in a left brain world. We wanted to explore different art mediums in retirement but held ourselves back. You know, the old fear of failure specter. What if I can’t draw? Can’t paint? Can’t carve? What if I produce ugly stuff nobody likes? Scary as the thought was, when we decided to seriously enter the world of artists, that is the precise moment we started our reorientation.

After several enjoyable weeks of watercolor class, yesterday I took my first drawing class. Don’t even think it…I already know I put the cart before the horse. Anyway, my drawing instructor told our class, “After today’s class, if anyone asks you what you do, you tell them, you’re an artist”. He went on to tell us how he wanted us to start thinking of ourselves as artists. Think it, feel it, be it. (I really like this guy.) Besides classes, we’ve become involved in a couple of artists’ guilds, Martin helping out with the fall arts festival, both of us attending openings (wine, cheese and art…doesn’t get any better than that) and me joining a board of directors.

We’ve made new friends. Artist friends who encourage and support. We feel like we’re well on our way to creating a rewarding Retirement Routine, Stage 5, the Holy Grail of retirement. Obviously, the key is to move yourself out of the Disillusionment Stage as quickly as possible or, even better, bypassing it altogether by reaching out to firmly grasp the Reorientation Stage.

Once we are comfortably settled into our new Retirement Routine, we intend for it to last a long, long time. “What about Stage 6?” you ask. Stage 6 is the Termination of Retirement. That’s when you’re so old and frail, you can’t do any of this fun stuff anymore. You’re focused on meeting your maker. That’s when I want to look back and tell myself what a great ride I had in my retirement years. I think that stage is a long way off. Until then, I’m an artist.

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  1. Kathy – this is a terrific article. it is so well written and describes so perfectly the stages that most people go through. i think you may also have a calling as a writer! Good luck with whatever and wherever your retirement reorientation takes you.


  2. Glad I found this blog. Spent years planning the finance side of retirement. Never really gave much thought to the what do I do now side.
    Funny how they never mention that on the financial pages.
    So I’m 55, had to retire due to medical issues. Just qualified for SSDI.
    Money set, now what?? I’m working on the list of things around my house, but after a year, that will be done. Have 6 rental properties that fill up 10-20 hours a week. Have a 6 year old son!! Have 6 dogs. Going to have to have my neck fused soon.. with a possible six month recovery. I guess what I’m feeling is this uneasiness of not working. I’ve been working since I was 14. So I’m busy, have money, but still have this weird feeling going on inside of me. Anybody else feel like this?

  3. I am a 60 year old small business owner. Like Laurie I worked from an early age and my most recent week of work put in an excess 90 hrs for a 7 day period. My wife and I recently went to a trade conference. We stayed a few days extra expecting to relax. After the first day I was totally bored. The idea of spending my retirement watching tv struck fear in me.

    After a career of building businesses it is hard to think of doing anything else. I probably will continue to work until I can figure out what I want to retire to. Financially I could have retired at age 50, emotionally not sure if I will ever be able to. Be financially secure is a real benefit, I work because I enjoy it, not because I have to,

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