6 October 2020 – The Retirement Curve
You may recognise this curve. It’s the same Change Curve that the psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross (1926-2004) used to explain the emotional journey through the grief of the loss of a loved one (expanded to seven stages from her original five).
Retirement is one of the biggest changes in your life and it can take you on a similar emotional journey. After years of working for other people, suddenly you’ve lost a huge part of your life and identity. It’s natural to grieve for what you’ve lost. Recovery comes as you discover the new landscape of your life and the new you.
Let’s look at each of the stages of The Retirement Curve in more detail.
Stage 1 – Shock
Initially there’s the “shock” of the new. If it’s an enforced retirement, that might mean you are dealing with a lot of negative feelings, but even if you’ve chosen to retire, there the “shock” of how different your life is now. Humans are creatures of habit and your old work-related routines are no longer there (for good, or for bad). Externally you may appear happy and enthusiastic about your new found freedom, but it will be transitory unless you have created a structure and purpose for your new life.
Stage 2 – Denial
This can take many forms, depending on your own particular circumstances. Perhaps you deny that you miss your colleagues, or the routine, or the status your role gave you. Perhaps you deny that you ever wanted to work in that industry at all. You tell me, if you recognise this part of the journey.
Stage 3 – Anger and Blame
This stage is usually prompted by the emerging insecurity felt from being cut loose from all those familiar routines and habits, and feelings of loss of identity. “They never appreciated all the work I put in.” “Things will be missed and errors made now I’m not there.” “What were all those long hours and stressful days for?” “If only they….”
Stage 4 – Bargaining
Now, instead of blaming “them” you turn the magnifying glass on yourself and start thinking of what you could/should/would have done. The bargaining is to try to recover some of the respect and status from your colleagues that you stripped away from yourself earlier. “They weren’t so bad.” “If only I had…… “ You can beat yourself up for hours, weeks, months and possibly years if you don’t navigate your way through this stage swiftly.
Stage 5 – Depression and Confusion
You’ve arrived at rock bottom. If you’re wise you won’t stay here long, but some people do. “Why am I on the scrap heap?” “What’ the point of life now?” “Who am I?” “I’m useless now.” “It’s 8am. What’s on the TV.”
Stage 6 – Acceptance
This wonderful stage is your re-awakening. This is re-discovering who you are after the emotional journey you have gone through. This about realising that you have a vast amount of assets, resources, knowledge and skills that you can utilise to do anything you want. “If it is possible for anyone, it is possible for you, if only you can discover how.”
Stage 7 – Problem Solving
The new you is here, with renewed energy and motivation. A new chapter of your life has begun. You are not who you were. Like a butterfly, you have emerged with wings to take you wherever you wish to go.
The time-scale of The Retirement Curve is elastic. It might be a few hours for one individual, or several years for someone less prepared for the changes that retirement can bring.
Stage 7 brings its own set of questions. What do you want to do? Where do you want to do it? Who with? How will you achieve it?
Most of us will have known, or heard of, people who declined rapidly after retiring from a busy work-life. For those of you who like statistics:
“A study published in the Journal of Population Ageing found that those who were retired were about twice as likely to report feeling symptoms of depression than those who were still working. And, research from the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs found that the likelihood that someone will suffer from clinical depression actually goes up by about 40% after retiring.
The result is that roughly 25 percent of adults aged 65 or older have some type of mental health issue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More alarmingly, suicide rates for men are highest among those age 75 and older, according to other data from the Centers.”
Stage 7 of The Retirement Curve is not the end. It’s a beginning that brings its own set of questions. What do you want to do? Where do you want to do it? Who with? How will you achieve it?
Wherever you are on the Retirement Curve, or if you haven’t even started yet, I can help you to clarify what you want from retirement and then take ensure you take positive action to create the enjoyable and meaningful retirement you deserve.
Does that sound like something you want to do?
If so, contact me to book a FREE, one-to one, 45-minute Exploration Call, without any obligation.
Life-coaching provides support as you are making or managing changes. I help can assist you with mid-life career changes and making retirement the best time of your life. Contact me if you wish to discuss how I can assist you.