What Happens When the Retirement Honeymoon Phase Is Over?

In the early days, all is fun and exciting, but after a while, it may seem to some like they’ve lost as much as they’ve gained. What then?

An older, retired couple plays chess.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For many retirees, retirement lasts a lot longer than it used to. After a few years, some might start wondering what happens when the retirement honeymoon phase is over.

Why is retirement the entire focus of my business? It’s the same reason we hear about retirement on a nearly constant basis. The reason is because roughly 12,000 people a day are retiring and will continue to for the next 15 years. This is not only an enormous amount of people retiring, but those retirees will live far longer in retirement than any previous generation.

Gone are the days of retiring at age 65 only to live until age 70. For some people, retirement could last more than 30% of their lives. A nice long retirement? It’s like your honeymoon phase. Days filled with travel, dining out, more free time to do whatever you want, or nothing at all if you prefer. For me, I envision lots of travel and perhaps surfing all over the world. What’s the problem with that?

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We Love the Honeymoon Phase

Unfortunately, they call the honeymoon phase a phase for a reason. The reason is because it doesn’t last long. We love the honeymoon phase. It’s filled with new and exciting adventures. We tend to not see issues because we are so enamored of our new life. Over time, however, we start to realize everything isn’t quite perfect.

The end of the honeymoon phase comes with the realization for some retirees that they may have lost as much as they have gained in their new retirement life. A loss of identity is the biggest reason retirees are dissatisfied with retirement. If I’m not a “insert your profession here,” then who am I?

With retirement comes a decrease in social interactions as well as a loss of routine. The same freedom to do whatever you do or don’t want causes many retirees to crave a sense of routine. After all, you followed a routine for decades, and to suddenly stop can be a difficult transition to make. A loss of identity from retirement can also lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression.

So how do we deal with the end of the honeymoon phase? For starters, figuring out your new identity can help. Ask yourself: What do I still want to accomplish in life? What am I most passionate about?

Volunteering Helps Create New Social Interactions

You have built a lifetime of skills and knowledge that others desperately need to learn. Are there organizations you want to support? Volunteering your time can help set a new routine, create new social interactions and, most important, give you a stronger sense of purpose.

Having a sense of purpose in retirement has been shown to be one of the key determinants of happiness in retirement. A sense of purpose can make retirees feel “normal” again. This leads to extending the feelings of the honeymoon phase long into retirement, if not for the rest of your life.

Retirement is far more mental than it is financial. Retirees have been shown to be able to adapt their lifestyle to most income levels, but happiness in retirement has been shown to be harder to achieve.

Having a plan before you retire can help increase the odds of satisfaction with your retirement itself and, as we say in the surfing community, just enjoy the ride.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Reich Asset Management LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services or Kestra Advisory Services. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax adviser with regard to your individual situation. To view form CRS visit https://bit.ly/KF-Disclosures (opens in new tab).

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC (opens in new tab) or with FINRA (opens in new tab).

T. Eric Reich, CIMA®, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®
President and Founder, Reich Asset Management, LLC

T. Eric Reich, President of Reich Asset Management, LLC (opens in new tab), is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, holds his Certified Investment Management Analyst certification, and holds Chartered Life Underwriter® and Chartered Financial Consultant® designations.