The Reality of Retirement

In an ongoing study at the MIT AgeLab, hundreds of people have been asked to describe how they envision life after retirement. The majority of participants mentioned extended part-time work, leisure activities and spending time with family or volunteering as the top activities they envision themselves doing.

Although these pursuits suggest a healthy perspective on aging, the responses may indicate an overly generalized vision of what could be decades of changes in work, health, finances, housing, marital status and countless other activities.

Here’s some basic math about modern lives. Let’s assume that a person with a college education and good income is now likely to live well into their 80s. Your life can be divided into four periods averaging approximately 8,000 days each. Birth to college graduation at age 22 is about 8,000 days. College graduation to midlife at age 44 is another 8,000 days. Midlife to retirement at age 66 is 8,000 more days. You can add about another 8,000 days from your retirement party forward for your fourth stage.

The previous three life stages have compelling examples and clear stories that guide and engage us through the decades. Retirement planning has not yet caught up to the realities of an 8,000 day retirement. Without a clear picture of what lies ahead, you’ll have the challenges associated with planning an entire life stage without examples or story lines to follow. This inability to envision your future self not just for years, but for decades in the future is caused by the ambiguity of exactly what happens next.

The Four Phases of Retirement

It’s often asked, “What will you do on Day One of your retirement?” Most people have a clear image of Day One. Maybe even Day 1,001. Few can imagine 8,000 days of golf and even fewer have a vision of what they will be doing on any given day—such as Day 4,567. Getting started on the right foot can be crucial.

Instead of planning for ‘retirement’ as a single state, it may be beneficial to reframe the conversation to reflect a four-phased concept of retirement. Each is characterized by the tasks and issues individuals are most likely to be managing. The four retirement phases enable a clear vision to plan and to anticipate what is likely to come.

  1. The Honeymoon Phase
  2. The Big Decision Phase
  3. The Navigating Longevity Phase
  4. The Solo Journey Phase

We invite you to join us for our upcoming event as we dive more into this topic.

Special Stone Barn Speaker Series
Living Your Life In 8,000 Days
Wednesday, November 9th | 6:00 pm ET
15 Middleton Drive Wilmington, DE 19808
In-Person | The Stone Barn
Guest Speaker: David Ingram

We welcome you to submit any questions that you may have in anticipation of the event to

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

MIT AgeLab, Hartford Funds and Covenant Wealth Strategies are not affiliates and make no representation to each other.