Retirement Is the New Normal

When you have to check the paperwork, as I recently did, to confirm how long you have been retired, then you know that you have passed a milestone without being aware of it. Though it is hard for me to believe, I am four months into the third year of my retirement. In the earlier days of my retirement, I published a series of blog postings about phases or stages of retirement, reflecting a preoccupation with trying to understand better just what I had gotten myself into by retiring. I don’t think about it so much these days.

Neither Robert Atchley nor the Ameriprise Financial researchers identify a phase or stage of retirement called “acceptance” or “the new normal,” but they should have. The Mindscape studies as well as Atchley’s research include a phase they call “reorientation.” I suppose that I have reached the reorientation phase. In this phase, they say, retirees take stock and adjust their expectations about retirement. It is a period of attitude adjustment.

For me, however, the new normal phase does not have the elements of adjustment in attitude and expectation that characterize the reorientation phase described by Atchley and Mindscape. Passing the acceptance milestone marks the end of the process of transition from working life to retired life. I am enjoying the opportunity to think about what I want to do next, how I want to spend tomorrow and what’s on for next week, next month, and in the years that I have left—without following a plan or roadmap and without making a bucket list.

The new normal is a kind of liberation. It is a stage in my life for which I am grateful. I welcome comments on this post from other retirees who may share my sensation of new normalcy. Although my retirement is my own and made of days filled with activities of my own choosing, I do not believe that the new normal phase is uniquely mine.

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