Emotional Signs You Need to Retire

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Trying to determine when you’re truly ready to retire can be difficult. Sure, many individuals dream of a life of leisure and traveling the world, spending time with family and picking up new hobbies without the stress of a job weighing them down. But, are you emotionally ready for such a large change? Making the leap into retirement has its perks – less stress, better health, more family involvement – but they might come with some emotional strings attached. So, what are the psychological effects of retirement? And how do you know when you’re emotionally ready to retire?


The obvious signs of being ready to retire include being financially prepared and eliminating any debt you’ve incurred, but what about the emotional signs? Some of the top emotional signs you might be ready to retire include:

  • Becoming resentful of your work, or daydreaming about retirement during work hours to the extent that it distracts you from getting your work finished.
  • No longer identifying who you are with what you do (your job).
  • No longer feeling excitement when presented with opportunities for career advancement.
  • Being jealous of your retired friends and counting down the days to your own retirement.
  • Your list of retirement “pros” outweighs the “cons.”

Even if you check off all those boxes, it’s important not to retire until you have a plan. Adjusting to retirement isn’t always easy, and it helps to know exactly what you plan to do with your spare time. It can also be important to have a supportive social network in place, especially if you’re an extroverted individual.


Adjusting to retirement can be different for everyone. If you aren’t psychologically ready to retire, or if your job and identity are fairly intertwined, retiring too soon may cause feelings of anxiety, boredom or restlessness. Some individuals may choose to find “bridge employment” – a trend in which retirees take on part-time employment to bridge the gap between their former full-time work and their new life of leisure.


How can retirement affect you emotionally? Research shows that for those who choose to fully retire, there are five common stages of emotions they experience. According to Phil Rich’s text “How Best to Retire” (published in May 1998), the five stages of retirement include:

  1. The “Pre-retirement” or Planning Period, in which you spend your time leading up to retirement imagining what it might be like, what you might spend your time doing, and how you might feel after retirement. You might also be actively planning for retirement and experiencing excitement or anxiety leading up to your retirement date.
  2. The “Honeymoon” Period immediately following retirement. This phase might last on average 3-6 months, though it’s different for every individual. During this time, retirees reconnect with their families, pursue hobbies, and spend time traveling or checking off items on their bucket lists.
  3. The “Disenchantment” Period, which may begin once you have checked off many of your “to-dos” on your bucket list. In this period, you might start to feel disappointed or as though retirement isn’t living up to your pre-retirement expectations. You may even feel like something is missing.
  4. The “Reorientation” Period – To pull themselves out of the disenchantment rut, this is the time when retirees might start building a new identity or pursuing new hobbies. They might start volunteering or thinking up new ways to spend their leisure time.
  5. The “Stability” Period, which may take years to reach following retirement. At this point, retirees are content with the life they have created post-retirement and feel settled. They begin to focus more on maintaining their health and independence, sometimes with the help of retirement or assisted living communities, like Oakley Courts.


Once you’ve decided you’re ready to retire, it’s also time to start thinking about the lifestyle you want to live! You might start wondering, is it better to rent or own a home in retirement? And what about senior living communities?

Determining whether to rent or buy depends on your level of ability to maintain a home. While owning can offer tax benefits and help ease concerns about a landlord arbitrarily raising your monthly rent, you also have to consider the repairs and maintenance you’ll have to spend time on as opposed to renting, which is generally maintenance-free.


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