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The 4 phases of retirement | Dr. Riley Moynes | TEDxSurrey

Transcriber: Zsófia Herczeg
Reviewer: Peter Van de Ven Everyone says you have to get ready
to retire financially. And of course you do. But what they don’t tell you
is that you also have to get ready psychologically. Who knew? But it’s important
for a couple of reasons. First, 10,000 North Americans
will retire today and every day for the next 10 to 15 years. This is a retirement tsunami. And when these folks come
crashing onto the beach, a lot of them are going to feel
like fish out of water without a clue as to what to expect.

Secondly, it’s important
because there is a very good chance that you will live one third
of your life in retirement. So it’s important that you have
a heads up to the fact that there will be significant
psychological changes and challenges that come with it. I belong to a walking group
that meets early three mornings a week. Our primary goal is to put
10,000 steps on our Fitbits, and then we go for coffee
and cinnamon buns – (Laughter) more important. (Laughter) (Applause) So as we walk, we’ve gotten into the habit
of choosing a topic for discussion.

And one day, the topic was, “How do you squeeze
all that juice out of retirement?” How's that for 7:00 in the morning? So we walk and we talk, and the next day,
we go on to the next topic. But the question stayed with me because I was really having
some challenges with retirement. I was busy enough,
but I really didn’t feel that I was doing very much
that was significant or important. I was really struggling. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what success looked like
in a working career, but when it came to retirement,
it was fuzzier for me. So I decided to dig deeper. And what I discovered was
that much of the material on retirement focuses on the financial
and/or the estate side of things. And of course, they’re both important
but just not what I was looking for. So I interviewed dozens
and dozens of retirees, and I asked them the question, “How do you squeeze
all the juice out of retirement?” What I discovered
was that there is a framework that can help make sense of it all.

And that’s what I want
to share with you today. You see, there are four distinct phases that most of us move through
in retirement. And as you’ll see,
it’s not always a smooth ride. In the next few minutes, you’ll recognize
which phase you’re in if you’re retired, and if you’re not, you’ll have a better idea
of what to expect when that time comes. And best of all, you’ll know
that there is a phase four – the most gratifying,
satisfying of the four phases – and that’s where you can squeeze
all the juice out of retirement. Phase one is the vacation phase,
and that’s just what it’s like. You wake up when you want,
you do what you want all day. And the best part
is that there is no set routine. For most people, phase one represents
their view of an ideal retirement. Relaxing, fun in the sun – freedom, baby. (Laughter) And for most folks, phase one
lasts for about a year or so, and then, strangely,
it begins to lose its luster.

We begin to feel a bit bored. We actually miss our routine. Something in us seems to need one. And we ask ourselves, “Is that all there is to retirement?” Now when these thoughts and feelings
start to bubble up, you have already moved into phase two. Phase two is when we feel loss, and we feel lost. Phase two is when we lose the big five – significant losses
all associated with retirement. We lose that routine. We lose a sense of identity. We lose many of the relationships
that we had established at work. We lose a sense of purpose. And for some people,
there is a loss of power. Now, we don’t see these things coming. We didn't see these losses coming in
because they happened all at once.

It’s like, poof, gone. It’s traumatic. Phase two is also when we come
face to face with the three Ds: divorce, depression and decline – both physical and mental. The result of all of this is that we can feel
like we’ve been hit by a bus. You see, before we can
appreciate and enjoy some of the positive aspects
associated with phase three and four, you are going to, in phase two, feel fear, anxiety
and quite even depression. That’s just the way it is. So buckle up and get ready. Fortunately, at some point,
most of us say to ourselves, “Hey, I can’t go on like this. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life, perhaps 30 years, feeling like this.” And when we do, we’ve turned the corner to phase three.

Phase three is a time of trial and error. In phase three, we ask ourselves, “How can I make my life meaningful again? How can I contribute?” The answer often is to do things
that you love to do and do really well. But phase three can also deliver
some disappointment and failure. For example, I spent a couple of years
serving on a condo board until I finally got tired
of being yelled at. (Laughter) You see, one year the board decided
that we were going to plant daffodils rather than the traditional daisies. (Laughter) And we got yelled at. Go figure. I thought about law school,
thinking perhaps of becoming a paralegal. And then I completed a program
on dispute resolution. It all went nowhere. I love to write. So I created a program
called “Getting started on your memoirs.” That program has met
with “limited success.” (Laughter) It’s been a rocky road for me too,
and I told you to buckle up. Now, I know all this can sound bad. But it’s really important to keep trying and experimenting
with different activities that’ll make you want
to get up in the morning again because if you don’t, there’s a real good chance
of slipping back into phase two, feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus.

And that is not a happy prospect. Not everyone breaks through to phase four, but those who do
are some of the happiest people I have ever met. Phase four is a time
to reinvent and rewire. But phase four involves
answering some tough questions too, like, “What’s the purpose here?
What’s my mission? How can I squeeze
all the juice out of retirement?” You see, it’s important that we find
activities that are meaningful to us and that give us a sense
of accomplishment. And my experience is that it almost always
involves service to others.

Maybe it’s helping a charity
that you care about. Maybe you’ll be like the old coots. (Laughter) (Applause) Yeah. These folks took a booth
in the local farmers market and were prepared to give their advice
based on their vast years of experience to anyone who came by. So one of their first visitors was a kid
who wanted help with his math homework (Laughter) on his tablet. (Laughter) They did the best they could. Or maybe you’ll be like my friend Bill. I met Bill a few years ago
in a 55 plus activity group. In the summer, we golf together
and walk together and bicycle together.

And in the winter, we curl. But Bill had this idea that we should exercise
our brains as well. He believed that there was
a tremendous pool of expertise and experience in our group, and so he approached a number of folks and asked if they would volunteer to teach some of the things
that they love to do to others. And almost invariably, they agreed. Bill himself taught two sessions, one on iPads and one on iPhones, because we were smart enough to know
that a number of our members had been given these things
as gifts at Christmas (Laughter) by their children, and that they barely knew
how to turn them on. The first year, we offered nine programs,
and there were 200 folks signed up. The next year, that number
expanded to 45 programs with over 700 folks participating. And the following year,
we offered over 90 programs and had 2100 registrations. Amazing. (Applause) That was Bill. Our members taught us
to play bridge and mahjong.

They taught us to paint. They taught us to repair our bicycles. We tutored and mentored local school kids. We set up English-as-a-second-language
programs for newcomers. We had book clubs. We had film clubs. We even had a few golf clubs. Exhausting but exhilarating. That’s what’s possible in phase four. And do you remember the five losses
that we talked about in phase two? The loss of our routine and identity and relationships and purpose and power? In phase four, these are all recovered. It is magic to see, magic. So, I urge you to enjoy
your vacation in phase one.

(Laughter) Be prepared for the losses in phase two. Experiment and try as many different
things as you can in phase three, and squeeze all the juice
out of retirement in phase four. (Applause).

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