Cracking REtirement - stages of retirement

Stages of Retirement

I read this really interesting, thought provoking post some time ago about the different stages of Retirement, by Kathy Merlino at Kathy’s retirement Blog. I carried on to read some more of her articles, which were great. It got me thinking about what stage of retirement I am at.

To paraphrase her, the phases of retirement are

  1. Pre-retirement
  2. Retirement / honeymoon period.
  3. Disillusionment
  4. Reorientation
  5. Retirement Routine
  6. End of Retirement

Further research suggests that there are several different views

This one also came up with 6 stages but they gave a stage just to your last day at work!. Interestingly it also included a disillusionment /disenchantment phase.

I hesitate to say this, but this is a phase that has mostly passed me by. Maybe because for 3 years of my retirement, I was caring for a 90+ mother. I saw it as a blessing. It was lovely to be able to spend time with her, when she needed it. I had spent too much time being away from home when I was working.

So, we have definitely missed out on disillusionment. Maybe it is ahead of us, but we still wake up and smile each morning and say – isn’t it great to be retired!


This was quite a short stage for me. It turned out to be 15 months. I took a six-month career break for family reasons. I turned 55 while on this break. At some stage during this time we decided we could both retire and why wouldn’t we? I love spreadsheets, so I had done endless iterations, and worked out our Drawdown Strategy. So I went back to work in September 2010, with only one thought – exactly when would I retire?  On 28th October, aged 56, I walked out of work without a backward glance.

Retirement Honeymoon period

First of all we went to New Zealand for 3 weeks. (booked when we were still at work, and neither of us had handed in our notice, or we would have made it longer!), home for a week, then 2 weeks in St Lucia. Back in time for Christmas, then it was January. Now January in Scotland is a cold dark month. As I write this, it is dark by 4pm and daylight doesn’t arrive until 9am, so there are 17 or even 18 hours of darkness. Often we have the light on all day long, and the heating is going full tilt. It was such a delight not to be heading out in the dark, de-icing the car, driving to work. For me even more so, as I no longer had to get up at 4:30am on a Monday morning to get the first flight to London or Amsterdam. That pleasure lasted for months.  Even now, six years in, we often comment on how lovely it is not to have to get up.

Indeed I don’t think we have ever really exited that honeymoon period.

Reorientation / Reorientation  ….

We are permanently in a reorientation position. Over the 6 years we have been retired, things have changed significantly.

Define retired. A few months after my husband retired, his firm asked him to work part-time, at his own pace. It suits him, he enjoys it. He goes into the office about 6 days a year and works from home doing the work he wants to do.  It wasn’t expected, and he enjoys it, so why not? He’s still doing it…. We save his salary!

We also don’t really have a routine. Each day is different – it evolves. What’s the weather like? Will we go for a walk? What will we have for our meals, depends on what is in the fridge / freezer

Year 1-3

Our first three years were spent looking after my elderly mother who was 90+. It didn’t take a lot of time, but we made her meals for her and she shared in ours on many days. It was a rare day that I didn’t pop in to see her, or take her out. (She lived 5 minutes walk away, independently, in her own home). She would have been even more independent but unfortunately her sight was failing fast. Sadly, one evening she had a bad fall, and like many old ladies didn’t recover from it. C’est la vie.

In between times we fitted in several trips to New Zealand, a trip to India, a trip to Malaysia, a couple more trips to St Lucia. They took a little more organisation because we had to arrange a bit of extra support for my Mum, but apart from that, we were pretty free to head off when we wanted.

Year 4-6

Three years in, also coincided with me taking on a voluntary position as a charity trustee/governor. This turned out to be rather more than the 6 days a year I had expected, more like 2-3 days a month. But I have enjoyed it.

Then by chance we happened on the concept of Slow Travel, spending 1-2 months in a different European city each year, and our routine changed yet again. It has been a delight taking this break each year. Every day is different. And, of course, a few more trips to New Zealand...

In year 6, I started blogging. Just because I could! Why not? I have enjoyed it. I hope my regular readers have too.

I continued with my passion – metal work, and I also started learning Spanish online (very slowly)

Year 7 onwards

Who knows?

I have reduced my charity commitment to about 1 day a month. This is working well.  I continue to blog, but I am trying to make it fit in with my lifestyle rather than the other way around. I have started 2018 far more determined to get a few posts ready to go, so I can ignore it for weeks if I want to.  I have ramped up the time I spend on my metal work. I’ve started weekly face to face Spanish lessons which I am really enjoying. I teach silver casting  in among other things.

My husband is still continuing to work part-time. Without the pressures of deadlines, and able to spend time on his beloved maths, he is very happy. We both thought he would have stopped ages ago, but he wants to carry on.

Slow Down

We’re not there yet, but at some stage in the next 20 years,  we will slow down. It is inevitable. We have been very fortunate health wise, long may it continue. We don’t have close family near us. So any plans we put in place have to ensure we are ‘self-sufficient’. In advance, we’ll do a bit of planning on what ‘old-age’ might look for us. My desire is to live independently in our own home, but the ‘home’ might be smaller, on one level etc. A friend’s mother made this transition aged 85, that seems a decent age to plan for.


So back to where we started!

  • My personal aim is to be independent in my own home until the day I die!
  • That home may not be in the same location as I am now. I have no idea what the next 20 years will bring. It will certainly be compact and easy to manage.
  • If I end up in a home, please kids, make it a nice one! (I don’t care if it is manned by robots, but please don’t let it smell of urine.) I just hope I am not too much trouble and not too cantankerous! If so, I apologise now….
  • Growing up we used to have an elderly aunt living with us – Auntie Tillie. She kept us all busy – often the house revolved around her. My daughter-in-law now has Auntie Tillie’s brass bell, that she used to ring, and expect attention when she wasn’t well. It drove everyone mad. Mum always said , when I get old and cause bother – just say Auntie Tillie to me and I will stop immediately. So boys – I hope saying Auntie Tillie will have the same effect on me when I am 90! This little bell can reverberate through several flights of stairs and a couple of closed doors!!
Cracking retirement Tillie's Bell
The bell

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Cracking REtirement - stages of retirement



  1. Hi from Australia – why haven’t I found your blog before??? I really enjoyed reading about how you’ve found retirement – I’m in stage 1 where I’ve reduced my work days from 4 a week down to 3 and then this year it will hopefully be only 2. My husband works part-time too and we’re both enjoying the flexibility of it. Retirement is the golden carrot at the end of our stick but we don’t mind waiting a few more years. I’ll be back to visit more regularly (found you on BlogShareLearn) Leanne |

    1. Hi Leanne
      Thanks for the lovely feedback, and taking the time to leave a comment. It had gone to the spam queue – why I do not know!

      You have the right idea, slowly taking your own time to get into retirement. Unfortunately for me I tried the 4 days a week, but before I knew it, I was working 5 or even 6 again! So, personally for me, it had to be a hard stop.

      Mind you once you get used to more retirement days, you will fill them so well, you’ll wonder how you’ll find the time to work!

      All the best

  2. I love this post! I may follow your lead and do a timeline of my own retirement so far. It’s an excellent way to review how our perceptions, goals, hopes and dreams change over our retirement years. I believe having the intention to stay independent and in your own home does set you on that path. Hopefully, Auntie Tillie had many years of independence before she took up the brass bell! 😀 (It’s great that you still have it!)

    1. Auntie Tillie bless her, had many years of independence. She was still able to fly the Atlantic in 1972 aged 84 and virtually blind. An indomitable woman, for sure. The brass bell will go down the family I hope!

      1. Wow! Thanks for sharing that! Another role model for sure! 🙂

        1. Yes, that was in the days when people hung up their clogs at 70. She lived until 91. A role-model indeed

  3. Hi Erith,
    I’m in the pre-retirement stage 🙂 I’ve read several posts from your blog (good job by the way!) and I get a clear sense of contentment from everything you write. Clearly retirement agrees with you!
    However what are the downsides? Should prospective retirees prepare for anything other than the obvious financial issues? Eg how did loss of “status” or a job title to answer the question “what do you do?” hit you? Sorry for all the questions!

    1. Hello again
      For me the three best things to prepare for in retirement are good health, enough money and something to do. Having a plan for all 3 really covers all bases. The lack of a job title didn’t affect me, I had enjoyed my work, but I had such a huge smile, every time I was asked what I did, and was able to say I am retired! If pushed, I would say – I used to work in IT, but I am retired and I don’t miss it at all. The freedom that retirement brings cannot be underestimated.
      I was lucky, I had several hobbies I couldn’t wait to be able to spend more time on, so any gap after working was easily filled. This turned out, to be both really beneficial and by default important. I woke up interested in the coming day, not worrying about how I was going to fill the hours.
      I am also a naturally positive person, so I always tend to look for the best in everything…

  4. Erith, this is a wonderful post. It certainly makes me look forward to our retirement one day. You are clearly comfortable with change, and being flexible – I wonder if that has helped skip the disillusionment? I can see that if someone were rigid in their ideas of what retirement holds, it could cause angst when things don’t go to plan.

    I also find it interesting that planning for your future doesn’t stop at retirement – you are looking ahead and considering life in 20 years’ time. Keep up the good work, and thanks for blogging all about it!

    1. Hi Mrs ETT
      I do think being flexible really helps. I used to work in IT, and as two days were rarely the same in that job, change was part of day to day life.
      I do have some friends who are fairly rigid, and their day is governed by the clock. Neither my husband nor I work that way. I can safely say that we never eat at the same time each day, never go shopping on the same day of the week, etc.
      I started work at 22, retired at 56, my mother lived to 94, I could have the whole of my working life again, ahead of me. How boring to spend it sitting in a chair.
      Blogging is a new interest for me. What comes next year or the year after – who knows?

  5. A great post on your retirement stages. I finished work at age 56, not by choice mind you, but I’m loving it now. I’m still in the honeymoon phase and I think I’ll just stay in it forever!! I’m into year 2 now and no sign of slowing down just yet. I’m so glad I found your blog Erith 😊

    1. I hope your honeymoon phase lasts for ages, ours certainly has. Today we took delivery of 2 lounge chairs that we can spin and sit in the sun when we get it – (I live in Scotland). There is nothing wrong with sitting in the sun and reading a book for a while!

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