Whatever situation you’re in, quitting your job will change things, sometimes in unforeseen and challenging ways. For example, retiring might seem like a huge weight has been lifted if your career was psychologically exhausting, unfulfilling, or left you completely burned out, but may also create anxiety about an uncertain financial future or even your identity as a professional.

Moreover, retirement can present more difficult obstacles if you value your job in a certain way and center your social life around it.

The same goes for handling the gradual transition from employment to full-time retirement. Your view on life can influence how your retirement years will be. And don’t worry. We’re here to help!

The Five Phases of Retirement

Retirement is a mental process.

Adapting from having more than 40 hours of work each week to having unlimited leisure and freedom needs enough time. In addition, regaining comfort and adjusting takes time.

Phase 1: Pre-Retirement
A few years before retirement, this phase starts. Your realization that retirement is approaching is visible at this stage.
You have the chance to make the greatest financial and emotional retirement preparations during this era. Your chances of a smoother retirement transition increase with your mental preparedness.

Phase 2: Honeymoon 
During this period, you have recently retired and are experiencing your first few weeks or months of retirement experience. Older adults may expect a range of feelings throughout this stage, including excitement, fear, and worry.

In general, discomfort is a part of any transition in one’s life. It is, therefore, very acceptable to have a wide range of emotions

Phase 3: Disappointment
After the honeymoon stage, some retirees have a painful period as the reality of retirement sets in slowly. Retirement may seem depressing and anticlimactic to you.

If you’re having difficulty managing your emotions with your present coping skills, seeking help from a mental health professional will always lead you to a better place.

Phase 4: Reorientation
The active development of ideas and transition to a more balanced existence occurs at this stage for retirees. You are orienting yourself, pondering, and seeking new paths.

You take steps to live the life you want to live, and you make plans for enjoyable pursuits that are consistent with your aspirations, sense of self, and life’s purpose.

Phase 5: Stability
You are not planning, preparing, or advancing toward retirement at this point; rather, you are living and taking pleasure in it. You are content with your retirement activities and are happy and satisfied with who you are as a person and where you are in life. You’re enjoying your satisfaction.

The Psychological Impact of Retirement on Mental Health

We all dream about the perfect retirement plan for years, whether it involves exploring the world, spending more time with loved ones, investing in passions, or just having the opportunity to unwind and enjoy life.

However, even though we pay full attention to financial retirement plans, we typically forget the psychological effects of leaving our jobs.
It may be quite liberating to quit the daily grind, a grueling drive, office culture, or a problematic boss, for instance. But after a few months, many newly retired people discover that the excitement of embarking on a permanent leave starts to slip away.

The sense of identity, purpose, and meaning that came with your working life, the familiarity it brought your days, or the emotional side of having colleagues are some things you might miss.

You may sometimes be sad about leaving behind your old life. You may be worried about what new skill or interest will help you pass your days or concerned about the consequences staying home every day will have on your marriage or other relationships. Even mental health issues like anxiety and depression can develop among newly retired people.

Regardless of how eagerly you’ve envisioned it, leaving the workforce permanently is a major life change that can stress you out and bring huge benefits.

Retirement has been associated in several studies with a deterioration in health. For example, according to recently published research, retirees, particularly those in their first year of retirement, have a 40% higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke than persons who remain employed.

While the degree to which you loved your career may have contributed to some of your retirement adjustment issues, there are things you can do to help you deal with the typical retirement problems.

Moreover, there are healthy coping mechanisms to adjust to this new chapter in your life. In the next lines, you can ensure your retirement life is pleasant and fulfilling.

Tips for Emotional Preparation for Retirement

When our parents were making retirement plans, times were different. People used to get their retirement income by working for the same job for 30 years in the past. Thanks to this, many often retire with hefty pensions that lead them throughout their retirement years.

Nowadays, it’s relatively rare to work for a single company, and it’s almost unheard of to obtain an employer-paid pension that would help you during your retirement years. Increasing healthcare costs and longer life expectancy make these problems even worst.

It’s imperative to start planning for retirement now more than ever. You can take the following tips to prepare in the long run, regardless of how close to (or far away) retirement you are.

Tip #1: Create a vision and estimate the financial resources needed to make it a reality.

An excellent starting point is where you (and your family if you have one) wish to settle once you retire.
Still, considering renting can be more feasible if you picture living in a new site. This step is crucial if you are distant from your social circle or have never lived in that community.

After determining where you want to live, spend time deciding what you want to do with all your free time. Whatever you decide, the objective here is to occupy your time with novel and engaging activities or interests while exercising your well-being. Look for a new source of inspiration and motivation to stay active!

The next step is to decide whether and when, financially speaking, you can put your shared retirement goal into action.

Still, there are several issues to consider here. Your house is a great example. For a typical household of retirees, housing takes the biggest expenditure. This number covers mortgage, rent, taxes, insurance, upkeep, and repairs.

More precisely, for retired households, housing costs account for an average family earning $1,456 per month ($17,472 annually), or about 35% of their total yearly spending. Hence, one of the wisest things you can do before permanently retiring is to pay off your mortgage and start creating equity (or even downsize).

Likewise, transport and healthcare should be equally important, as they are two of the most expensive costs people pay for the rest of their lives.

Tip #2: Try to save as much as you can.

As you’ve probably heard, saving as much money as possible is important.

This act includes making the most of your contributions to any retirement plans you may be a part of and setting aside money for emergency bills.
We will discuss the cost of retirement here. So, to avoid outliving your retirement savings, you’ll need to figure out how to finance retirement and make it financially feasible.

The general rule is that you’ll need between 70 to 90% of your pre-retirement earnings to maintain your quality of life, though every person’s circumstances are varied. So, if you make $100,000 a year before retiring, you should anticipate needing between $70,000 and $90,000.

You may think that figure is excessive, and it may be, but the most recent U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey indicates that it is not. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a household headed by a 65-year-old retiree typically spends $50,220 annually.

Tip #3: Know the core concepts of investing.

In the world of investing, it’s a matter of all or nothing. Understanding key concepts is crucial to aligning your investments with your goals. The first concept is the importance of considering the time frame for your investments, as it impacts your portfolio’s composition. Younger investors can weather market ups and downs better and can take on more risk by investing in equities. As you near retirement, your strategy shifts toward lower-risk assets.

Risk tolerance is another critical aspect – taking more risk when young but aligning it with your goals, horizon, and personality. Ignoring risk tolerance can lead to impulsive decisions that harm your financial future.

Lastly, rebalancing is essential, involving adjusting investments to maintain your portfolio’s intended balance as market conditions change. While not always needed, delaying rebalancing can hinder optimal investment growth.

Tip #4: Learn how the government-run programs you’ll participate in operate.

For Americans and legal permanent residents, Medicare is a government-run health insurance program that is the most popular type of insurance for retirees.

At the very least, you should understand how Medicare operates because the program and its coverage significantly impact medical expenditures as you age. By doing this, you might avoid making unnecessary costs.

Another federal program that you want to become familiar with before retiring is Social Security. Did you know that receiving benefits before reaching your full retirement age will permanently reduce your monthly benefit? Furthermore, did you know that Social Security may reduce your benefits based on your income if you work while receiving it before reaching full retirement age?

These are just a few circumstances you’ll have to deal with; ideally, you’ll have a professional to support you.

Tip #5: Understand that retirement success entails more than just money.

Nowadays, every social interaction you have tells you how important it is to save for a nice and secure retirement experience.

Of course, having enough retirement money is important. However, when one quits working, money is only one factor for a happy and fulfilling life.

It would be best if you also created plans with your social support to pursue new hobbies and gradually change the source of your self-worth.

Before completely ceasing employment, many psychologists advise retiring gradually, switching to a part-time job, or undertaking consulting work. You may use the extra time to research new interests or rekindle existing ones.

Avoid being rigid in your retirement planning, and don’t put all your retirement savings in one basket. For instance, many intend to value their interests in traveling extensively, but a physical health condition requiring medical treatment makes this difficult for some.

Traveling, leisure pursuits, volunteering, fitness, and continuing education are all gratifying things that many retirees find part of a well-rounded portfolio of interests.


Preparing emotionally for retirement involves recognizing the impact of leaving your co-workers and workplace behind. Start by initiating conversations with your colleagues about your upcoming retirement. Connecting with them and expressing your feelings can help create a sense of closure and ease the emotional transition.
When discussing your retirement plans with friends and loved ones, approach the conversation openly and clearly. Share your excitement, concerns, and hopes for this new phase of life. Open communication can help you receive the support and understanding you need during this transition.
Focusing on personal growth during retirement involves setting new goals, pursuing hobbies, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Embrace opportunities for learning and self-improvement, as they can contribute to a sense of purpose and fulfillment in this new phase of life.
Emotionally preparing to leave work involves acknowledging both the challenges and the potential benefits of retirement. Engage in self-reflection to understand your feelings about retiring. Seek support from friends, loved ones, or even professional counselors to navigate any emotional complexities that may arise.

Related Topics: mentally preparing for retirement, retirement mental health, psychological preparation for retirement.

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Dr. Mary

Dr. Mary Coussons-Read, a Ph.D. in Psychology and an accomplished Professor and Higher Education Leader, brings extensive experience to her role as a Certified Professional Personal and Career Coach. With over 30 years of leadership and organizational development consulting in academic and corporate settings, Dr. Mary is well-equipped to guide higher education professionals toward envisioning and achieving positive change.

In addition to her academic background, Dr. Mary has a personal understanding of weight management challenges. Her transformative journey has inspired her to support successful individuals struggling with obesity. Through her expertise and compassionate approach, she helps them explore long-term options, including bariatric surgery or alternative strategies for lifelong weight management.

With her unique combination of academic knowledge, coaching skills, and personal experience, Dr. Mary is committed to assisting individuals in realizing their goals and making significant transformations in their lives.