The New Retirement Mindscape Study
The first of 78 million boomers began to turn 60 in January 2006. Boomers will continue to celebrate their 60th birthdays at a rate of 10,000 each day, 4 million each year, for the next 18 years—reinventing the way they retire along the way. Preparation and planning will be foremost on their minds as they approach their retirement years. In 2005, Age Wave, Ameriprise Financial and Harris Interactive created The New Retirement Mindscape StudySM, the first study to understand people’s attitudes, worries, behaviors, ambitions, and needs both before and after retirement. This groundbreaking study uncovered five distinct and predictable stages of retirement:
Stage 1: Imagination (15–6 years prior to retirement)—Retirement is still years away, but during the imagination stage, people have very positive views about retirement (although only 44 percent say they are “on track” in terms of preparation). In this stage, people have high expectations of adventure (65 percent) and empowerment (53 percent) during retirement.
Stage 2: Anticipation (5 years prior to retirement)—As retirement draws closer, positive emotions are on the rise, with 80 percent saying that they “will be able to achieve their dreams in retirement.” However, in the two years prior to retirement, worries and anxiety mount, with 22 percent saying that they will feel a sense of loss after their working years are over. The most commonly cited triggers for retirement readiness were achieving “financial freedom” (18 percent) or a significant birthday (16 percent).
Stage 3: Liberation (Retirement Day and one year following)—This is a time of great excitement, relief, and enthusiasm, as 78 percent of people say they are “enjoying retirement a great deal.” But, similar to a honeymoon, the feeling of liberation is short-lived, as a new reality soon begins to set in.
Stage 4: Reorientation (2–15 years after retirement)—During the reorientation stage, many say the joy of retirement has passed, giving way to feelings of emptiness (49 percent), worry (38 percent), and boredom (34 percent). This is the point in the progression where an emotional letdown may occur to varying degrees. Four distinct profiles emerged in the reorientation stage: Empowered Reinventors (19 percent), Carefree Contents (19 percent), Uncertain Searchers (22 percent), and Worried Strugglers (40 percent).
Stage 5: Reconciliation (16 or more years after retirement)—This stage is marked by increased contentment, acceptance, and personal reflection. People have come to terms with all that retirement has to offer. While there are lower levels of depression (5 percent), some people (22 percent) report feelings of sadness as they confront end-of-life issues.