How to Hit the Five Stages of Retirement Perfectly

Stage five of retirement is a good time to share your values and life lessons with your children, grandchildren or community. (Photo: Ronnie Kaufman,, Blend Images via Getty Images)
Stage five of retirement is a good time to share your values and life lessons with your children, grandchildren or community.
(Photo: Ronnie Kaufman,, Blend Images via Getty Images)

Most people today view retirement as an opportunity to begin a new chapter in their lives, “not a time to wind down and move off the playing field,” says gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, 64, the CEO of Age Wave, a research think-tank on aging issues.

They are trying to figure out new ways to be productive. “Many are wondering: ‘What can I do with this stage of my life that is perhaps my highest purpose?’ ” says Dychtwald, who is also a psychologist. He has written 16 books on aging, health and retirement issues.

His company has conducted dozens of studies on retirement over the past 20 years. From that research, he and his colleagues have identified five stages of retirement and how people can make the most of each stage:

Stage 1: Imagination. These are the five to 15 years before retirement. People are sometimes busy raising their children and providing care for one or more parents, Dychtwald says.

How to make the most of this time: Enjoy the vitality of this stage of life and make sure you are preparing financially for retirement, he says. “You should be doing everything you can to build a strong and solid financial base that will last you a lifetime.”

Stage 2: Anticipation. This is from five years until right before retirement. People often start thinking about what they are actually going to do when they retire, but there aren’t many places for them to go for guidance, he says.

Many people want to continue to work. In fact, 72% of pre-retirees, age 50 and older, say they want to keep working after they retire, according to a recent survey sponsored by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave. Almost half (47%) of current retirees either are working, have worked or plan to work in retirement, the survey found.

Many people also want to devote more time to their family and friends. Some want to continue to learn, and others want to enjoy their favorite hobbies and develop new ones, he says.

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Source: USA Today | Nanci Hellmich

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