Living a Fulfilled and Meaningful Retirement, are You?

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Living a fulfilled and meaningful retirement, are you?

Scott klatt


You may feel this is a strange title given it is framed as a question. But as I began thinking about the topic and the counterintuitive nature of what I have uncovered, I frequently thought of the popular character Yoda, from the amazingly successful Star Wars series. Yoda (not baby Yoda) had the uncanny knack of making a statement, but always framing it as a question. So, after assisting hundreds of clients for close to four decades with the task of accomplishing their financial goals and objectives, I have uncovered that this particular question is an important one to contemplate.  As I have found, similar to developing a sound financial plan, establishing a comprehensive plan for the next step in life is just as important. A colleague of mine and wonderful writer, retirement consultant and certified retirement coach, Marianne Oehser1, calls it a “A Happiness Retirement Portfolio” in her book, Your Happiness Portfolio ™ for Retirement, It’s Not About the Money. So how and why do we need to develop a “Happiness Portfolio” both before and during retirement? 


Defining Retirement

Let’s first start with the definition of retirement. The term was first invented back in 1889 by German Chancellor Otto2, saying “for those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state” * Not the most uplifting definition I must say. The French also have a not so exciting definition3 as to “withdraw to a place of safety or seclusion.” Our own Webster dictionary4 defines retirement as “to withdraw from one’s position or occupation or from an active work life”. Again, a somewhat dark definition with negative connotations of withdrawing or being less active. I prefer the Spanish definition, which is Jubilación

, a word for post career, taken from the root word of celebration.

So, is retirement in today’s day and age a celebration or a withdrawal to a safe place of seclusion? The answer mostly depends on you. As I have found, similar to developing a comprehensive financial plan and investment portfolio, it takes some deliberate thinking and planning.


Woes of Retirement

Why is it so important to plan for life after retirement? What I have found is that many retirees do not recognize the serious risks that are associated with “being retired”.

After all, retirement can last for more than 1/3 of your life and for many of us, you may be retired longer than you worked. Think through that statement and ask yourself, what do I want to do for the next 30 years of my life? It can be daunting and intimidating, or it can be an exciting challenge.

The Secure Retirement Institute project5 quotes the following stats:

·         25% of 65-year-old men of average health will live to age 89

·         25% of 65-year-old women will live to age 90

Although this may sound like Jubilación it can also become a very challenging stage of life.  I think of my own father, who sold his business at an early age of 55, became a snowbird along with some part time work for a few years and then slowly faded away in front of the TV. I am not sure if I agree with Neil Young’s line in his famous song Hey Hey My My6, “it is better to burn out than to fade away” as I think there should be more to this next act in life.

Clare Davenport7, in her Ted talk “Rethink retirement well beyond your bank account” *notes some very alarming issues that come with retirement:

·         Substance abuse

·         Depression

·         Boredom

·         Feeling irrelevant

·         Weight gain

·         Divorce

o   Over ¼ of all divorces are couples over 50

o   1 in 10 are over 65

·         Early death

§  Research done by Harvard Scholl of Public Health8 found people who retired are 40% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than working on who were still working and the increase is most pronounced during the first year


Stages of Retirement

Why you may ask, are there so many risks associated with a time in life that should be happy and joyful? These risks seem to come at different stages of retirement. There are many different definitions of these stages developed by experts in the field, but let’s look at one. Dr. Riley Moyes9 in his Ted Talk “The Four Stages of Retirement” outlines the stages of retirement as follows:

Vacation Phase:

Typically lasts up to one year after retirement- The first several months of retirement can seem like a vacation. You can do what you want when you want. You may even blast through your bucket list and your “things to do” list with ease and feel some great accomplishment. But then the second, most dangerous stage can set in.

Feeling lost:

All at once you feel like you have no routine. You may begin to possibly struggle with finding a new sense of identity. The relationships you built up in your work career may suddenly come to an end and your sense of purpose may be hard to capture or articulate and may be somewhat frighting to think about. You may

have had a sense of power or authority while working and that can deplete immediately. But things can improve with some focused efforts in the next stage.

Trial and Error:

This is a time that you can feel empowered to get out there and try new things and explore the many areas that may interest you in this next stage of life. It’s ok to uncover things you don’t like, as long as you continue to pursue your future self and keep trying. Trial and error can be fun, if you remind yourself, you have lots of time to experiment with the “new you” and there is no wrong answer. A helpful question to as yourself during this stage may be, how can I contribute or make a difference? Once you get some clarity to this question and many more you are ready for the next stage

Reinvent and Rewire:

The final stage, according to Dr. Riley, is to reinvent and rewire. This is where you can slowly develop what your purpose and focus will be moving forward. Many studies have shown that the most satisfied retirees have a purpose of giving and serving others. This may sound counterintuitive given the fact you may have given or served in your previous capacity but doing so out of the kindness of your heart seems to make all the difference. This stage is where you can recover all that which may have been lost in the feeling lost stage. Furthermore, this is where you can begin to thrive in retirement.

Although retirement is different for everyone, in my experience the happiest and most fulfilled retirees I work with are the ones who put some time and thought into developing this next chapter of their lives. In my future articles I will outline the tools and processes for you to use so you can begin to develop this future self you may have never had time to focus on. I will also provide resources and direction to assist you in living a fulfilled and meaningful retirement.


  1. Marianne Oehser. Your Happiness Portfolio for Retirement: it’s not about the money. ( Indiana: Balboa press, 2019) 15. 
  2. “Social Security History.” Social Security. Accessed Nov 16 2022.
  3. Cambridge Dictionary. “Retiré (noun)” accessed Nov 16 2022.
  4. Webster’s Dictionary. “Retirement (noun)” accessed Nov 16, 2022.  
  5. Debra Taylor. “The Four Stages of Retirement and How to Guide Your Clients Through Them.” Horsesmouth. Sep 12, 2022 accessed Nov 16, 2022. 
  6. 6. Neil Young.   “Hey Hey My My” recorded 1979. Track 1. Rust Never Sleeps. 

    7. Clare Davenport. “Rethink Retirement: Well-being beyond your bank account.” (youtube. Ted Talk. 2022). 

    8. Marianne Oehser. “Retirement is Like a Remodeling Project.” Next Chapter Lifestyle Advisors. Nov 2022. Accessed on Nov 16 2022. 

    9. Dr. Riley Moyes. “The 4 Phases of Retirement” (Youtube. Ted Talk. 2022). 

    Advisory services offered through Rise Advisors, LLC (“Rise”), a Registered Investment Adviser. This report is being generated as a courtesy and is for informational purposes only.