Understanding the different stages of retirement

Jun 12, 2023
irement is a significant milestone in life, marking a transition from a career-driven existence to a new chapter of leisure and personal fulfilment. Image source: Getty

Retirement is often thought of in terms of “before” and “after”, where one moment you are working and then the next moment you’re not. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that there are actually distinct phases of retirement that an individual experiences, especially emotionally.

Just like any other major life change, the journey into and through retirement can be difficult to navigate and may take some time to adjust. Retirees will need to get used to this new stage of life and establish a new routine.

Although everyone’s journey can look different, the stages of retirement can generally be broken down into the following five phases: pre-retirement, the honeymoon phase, detachment, re-orientation and stability. These phases help allow soon-to-be-retirees and retirees to envision their financial planning and lifestyle needs both now and into the future. It also presents opportunities for marketers to effectively provide this golden demographic with services and products that address their needs and wants during this time of change.


This stage generally begins between 5-10 years before the actual retirement date and is often characterised by anticipation, excitement, sometimes trepidation and preparation for the transition into retirement. Financial planning, setting goals, and envisioning the ideal retirement lifestyle become key concerns.

The opportunity: The best way to market to someone in this stage is to help them ‘understand’ and plan for the changes that lie ahead and the decisions they need to make. Marketers can tap into this stage by providing financial advisory services, retirement planning tools, and lifestyle products to assist individuals in making informed decisions and preparing for a secure retirement.

The Honeymoon Phase

Once retirees officially enter retirement, they are filled with enthusiasm and a renewed sense of freedom. During this phase, you often hear ‘it’s my turn’ or ‘I deserve it’ or ‘we’d better hurry up and do that!

This stage is marked by a sense of excitement, exploration, and an eagerness to pursue long-held dreams and passions. Retirees may engage in travel, hobbies, and personal projects they never had time for before or begin looking for fulfilling activities that bring them joy and personal growth.

The opportunity: Marketers can target this stage by offering curated travel packages, recreational products, and services that cater to the active and adventurous lifestyles of retirees looking to embrace new experiences.


After the initial enthusiasm of retirement fades, some retirees may begin to experience a sense of disenchantment. This stage is marked by a period of adjustment as individuals grapple with the loss of work-related identity, social connections and potential sense of purpose.

The opportunity: Marketers can provide support and solutions by offering programs that facilitate social engagement, community involvement, and opportunities for personal growth. Retirement communities, social clubs, and educational programs can all help combat the feelings of isolation or purposelessness that may arise during this stage.


Just like all things in life, you begin to adapt to your new circumstances and re-orientate yourself. Rebuilding a sense of purpose and redefining your identity is one of the hardest parts of retirement, but also one of the most rewarding stages too. Retirees may seek ways to contribute to society, explore new interests, or even pursue part-time employment.

The opportunity: Marketers can tap into this stage by promoting volunteer opportunities, flexible work options, and educational programs that cater to the desire for personal growth and continued learning.


The final stage of retirement is characterised by a sense of stability and contentment. Retirees have successfully adjusted to their new lifestyle, have established routines, and feel a sense of fulfilment and joy with their new sense of purpose and identity.

The opportunity: At this stage, marketers can focus on providing products and services that enhance well-being, promote healthy ageing, and cater to the evolving needs of retirees, such as healthcare services, leisure activities, and retirement living options.


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