The many phases of retirement: which phase are you in? 5



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What makes life special in retirement can differ wildly based on which part of retirement you are in. There is no doubt about it: time is something people approaching or in retirement treasure. In fact, I will go as far as saying, that to many of this generation of baby boomers, time sits equal in its importance in their eyes as family. For some it features more prominently.

It’s not money, not assets, not food, not “stuff”, but time spent wisely that is making our retirement world tick. But how many of you really stop to think about this and plan out the most clever uses of your time?    

If you are semi-retired or retired, it might appear that you have plenty of time on your hands, when in fact many people I know who have hit retirement and settled in complain of “too much time”, while others don’t know how they ever fit working into their week. From the outside, we all seem to sit in three core categories: the preparing for retirement phase, the retirement honeymoon phase and the retirement reality phase. 

It is funny how it works. My mum is currently in the phase we would all call “preparing for retirement”, that is, she is gradually decreasing the amount of formal and structured work she does and looking for other ways she will be able to make money whilst pursing her “retirement dreams” of travelling Australia in a camper, leisurely contemplating whether she turns left or right today. She’s actively pursuing a life the way she wants it and putting the building blocks in place to get there. 

My father is in the phase many could relate to which some might call the “retirement honeymoon” – the period in the first year or two after you retire when the world is your oyster and you have an urge to do everything you never had time to before. Travel, adventure and excitement fill every week. You can catch up with friends on a Tuesday, fly interstate on a Wednesday, stay an extra week on holidays, and every moment feels amazing. At this time of your life there is little need to join things because you are never available week-in-week-out to attend anything. Gyms, clubs and communities are for later on, when you have “time”. 

My in-laws seem to have moved beyond their honeymoon into what you or I might call “the retirement reality”, where they’ve done a good few trips, and walked down many beaches in white pants holding hands only to find that life goes on, and that it is important to belong. This is their time to do something meaningful and to get back to a rhythm of doing the things they love, nearer to home. They are putting down roots – joining clubs and making sure they get to do the things they love, every day. 

Don’t get me wrong – they’re still living a very exciting life, but it is different to the heyday of the first two years of their retirement.

And then, it would be unfair of me not to reflect on several people in our community who seem to be at a different stage of retirement, one that not everyone gets to. And that is the phase we could call “reinvesting in retirement”. They are people often in their 70s and 80s that are running a mile a minute to give back, encourage and support others, retired or not, sowing seeds of happiness everywhere and reaping so much from their experiences. Whether they are setting up community groups and leading social networks, or mentoring others to be the best they can be, this is a special part of retirement that should not be overlooked.


We want to know if you relate to these phases of retirement and which one you are in. Which did you enjoy the most and why? How do you most enjoy spending your time?  

Take our poll today then share something with us about your retirement experiences. 


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Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. At this stage I see younger people and try to support their desires and wishes. Life is a journey to learn wisdom and love and pass it on, spread some joy, as we have been given the priviledge to be here. Its a way of giving thanks. Drene

  2. At the age of nearly 80 I am widowed ,my husband died before retiring after having spent all his money that we both worked for until in our 70’s might add this was done with a little help from his “friends” so now am struggling to do anything I would volunteer but have very bad Arthiritis in my back so what do I do read and play games ,no travelling (as we did plan until some little bug got in his head ) anyway I am probably better off than a lot of people do have a roof over my head and enough food even tho it can be a struggle sometimes especially here on the Gold Coast where I have lived for nearly 50 yrs anyway good luck to you all happy retirement

  3. I am so grateful that I have good health & the ‘luxury’ of time to use it as I please! To travel leisurely and dote on my grand daughter! But the negative side is the growing skepticism I have on the ‘spins’ the pollies act out in parliament, policy debate & mismanagement. We cannot afford this bunch!

  4. I’d had enough of work so decided to quit one day, so there was no planning. There was no honeymoon as hubby still works and I went into full time study. This is going to be difficult when he finishes work in a few years and we go into the honeymoon stage – it will be doing everything backwards for me. I just love my groups and volunteering, and am enjoying life more than I’ve ever done. I am one of those who don’t know how I ever found time to work 🙂

  5. Fairly accurate write. Into fourth year of retirement. Have travelled quite a bit and we are certainly intending to travel many more times – health permitting. We have now both joined different clubs and consequently making new friends and we also have lovely neighbours where we live who keep an eye on our place when we are away – so much easier since we downsized.

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