10 Expert Tips On How You Successfully Transition To Retirement


When you’re soon going to retire, you are probably wondering how do you successfully transition to retirement. Retirement is a major life-changing event. The process of transition to retirement starts several years before your actual retirement date. In this article, I’ll share ten essential tips from my retired father-in-law, so you can successfully transition to retirement. Ready to learn more? Let’s start! 

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1) Prepare For Transition To Retirement Early

When you want to ensure yourself a successful transition to retirement, it is important to start early. It is important to start thinking about the transition process to retirement around five years before your planned retirement date. 

Starting five years ahead allows you to plan and prepare for the upcoming lifestyle change retirement is. You can make financial changes if necessary. And most importantly, you can get used to the idea of being retired at your own pace. Giving yourself enough time for this transition helps you to make this process effortlessly. 

Many people think that preparing for retirement is all about preparing financially for your retirement. Of course, having a financial retirement plan is one of the key factors for a successful retirement. However, there are many more factors related to transitioning into retirement.  

2) Create A Lifestyle Plan For Retirement

If you want to ensure yourself a smooth transition process to retirement, it is important to create a lifestyle plan for retirement. Having a plan about the things you want to do as a retiree helps you successfully transition to retirement.

I’m not saying that you need to plan everything in detail but think about activities you want to do as a retiree. Many retirees feel a loss of identity in the first months or years of their retirement. It’s something almost every retiree has to deal with. However, if you know what you want to do in retirement, how you want your retired lifestyle to be, it’s easier to deal with this period. 

If you find it challenging to create this lifestyle plan for retirement, one of the best people that can help you make the most out of your life is Tony Robbins. With his high-rated programs, he can help you get more clarity about what you want most out of life. And help you get there with life-long strategies for success. Curious about he can do for you? Visit his website here.

3) Prepare For A Lifestyle Change

As I mentioned at the start of this article, retirement is a major life-changing event. Preparing for your retirement is essential to transition to retirement successfully. This also means preparing for the lifestyle change. Many people don’t realize that there is changing a lot in your lifestyle once you are retired. 

Let’s clarify this statement with a real-life example. My father-in-law was a police officer for more than 40 years in The Netherlands. His working schedule consisted out of sometimes working during the day and sometimes during nighttime. Working day and nightshifts are standard at the police force. This also meant that during his career, he created a lifestyle around his work schedule. Sometimes, he was at home during the daytime, and sometimes he needed to work. He is happily married to my mother-in-law for over 40 years as well. Still, his police work resulted in a lifestyle where they both created an independent lifestyle. They are so used to do things on their own that once my father-in-law got close to his retirement, he started to think of new activities he could do. Of course, they love to do things together, but they both need their time alone because they have had this for over 40 years.

Luckily they understood the importance of preparing for this lifestyle change and talked about it. A few days a week, they are doing things together and babysit their grandchildren once a week. But their schedule also consists out of doing things, individual. My father-in-law is volunteering as a tour guide in the city of The Hague in The Netherlands and busy with several sports activities to stay fit. He prepared for these activities a few years in advance of his retirement, which resulted in a successful transition to his retirement. 

4) Get Your Finances In Order

Many people say that you should start somewhere in your thirties with preparing for your retirement. And while this might be a good time to review a few factors for retirement, most people start preparing for retirement around five years ahead of their retirement date. 

However, starting to invest for retirement early is always a good idea. Ensure you get the most out of your 401(k) if your employer is offering one. If not, you might want to set up an Individual Retirement Account, also known as IRA. Sometimes it can be interesting to do both and look at other options to invest as well. The personal retirement calculator of Merrill Edge is a good way to start. Completing the calculator takes only a few minutes. The calculator gives you an action plan of the most important things you’ll need to do regarding your retirement savings. 

I always recommend talking to a professional financial advisor. Maybe your employer can help you with that. Many companies offer free financial advice, but you can also look for a financial advisor outside your company. 

It’s not only important to save for your retirement income. When you are talking about retirement, you also talk about aging. Most people retire between the age of 60 and 65. This is also a time to look at other important things like your estate planning, will, and trust. A great online service that helps with all of these important factors is Gentreo, known as the one-stop solution for all your estate planning needs. Use this link to learn what Gentreo can do for you.

When you’re living in the United States and pay social taxes, there are a few benefits you need to focus on when you are close to retirement;

Claim Your Benefits

Learn the rules about social security benefits. Most people in the United States are eligible for these benefits. Social Security benefits in the United States replace an amount of your pre-retirement income. How high your benefits will depend on several factors. The amount is based on your highest 35 years of earnings. It varies depending on how much you’ve earned and when you start to claim these benefits. You can learn more about the social security benefits on the official website of the SSA

Learn About Medicare

Medicare is a federal healthcare program in the United States for people who are 65 years and older and certain younger people with disabilities. When you’re retired, there’s a good chance you’re eligible for Medicare. 

Medicare offers different types of coverage, known as Parts Of Medicare. Part A covers only hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance, and Part D is prescription drug coverage. A detailed description of the Medicare coverage is available on the Medicare website. Also, you can find information on how to get started with Medicare on the Medicare website. It important to familiarize yourself with the rules, so you won’t have to stress about this when you suddenly need to use your health insurance. 

Suppose you’re looking for professional help when preparing for these social benefits in retirement. In that case, I recommend using the service of JustAnswer. You can find professionals effortlessly by easily asking your questions online. The service automatically connects you to the best professional to answer your questions. Learn more about JustAnswer here

5) Consider A Gradual Transition To Retirement

A step-by-step transition or gradual transition to retirement is the perfect way for you to get used to retired life. You can start working part-time first, for two or three days a week. It’s important to note that there can be financial effects on changing that work schedule, so make sure to talk this through with your employer before making any decisions. 

It’s something my father-in-law did to make his transition to retirement more effortlessly is a gradual transition. He created a transition plan where slowly worked less and less. He first stopped working his night shifts. Later he stopped working for one day in the week. And a few months before his actual retirement date, he took a sabbatical to get used to his new lifestyle as a retiree. 

6) Create A Social Network Outside Your Office

Our social life often exists around our working environment. Many people work for years in the same office, with the same colleagues, spending a lot of time together. Birthday parties, sports events, annual celebrations are all organized in and around the office. These social activities all change when you’re retiring. 

It may sound harsh and direct, but when you’re retiring, you’re not part of that group of coworkers anymore. There’s a good chance you’re even not invited to parties after your retirement. And perhaps there’s a good reason for that. You need to move on to a new chapter in your life. And your (former) colleagues also need to stay focused on the work they need to do. Teambuilding simply doesn’t work when there are former team members still involved. 

Of course, you can apply to the retirement club of your company, but it might also be a good idea to build some social relationships outside your work environment. I would recommend building up social contacts even when you are still working. Having multiple social relationships will enrich your life. According to this article on Harvard Health Publishing, it is related to healthy aging. They claim that elderly with broader social activities and contacts beyond the regular social circle are much more active. And staying active is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to healthy aging.

You’ll find the best tips in my article How Do I Socialize After Retirement? | 11 Essential Tips

7) Plan To Stay Active In Retirement

You’ll transition to retirement much more successfully if you plan to stay active. The CDC refers to staying active as one of the most important things one can do for healthy aging. Staying active in retirement means you’ll stay as fit as possible. And being fit means you’re more energetic, which in turn results in the fact that you’ll have more energy to enjoy the new things that come across your way in retirement. 

Staying active is means something different for everyone. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing to stay active. The most important thing is that you follow the CDC’s guidelines about physical activity. According to the CDC, older people without related health issues need a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic intensity exercises and two times muscle training a week. They also mention that you’ll reach the best results when combining different activities and try to exercise more than the minimum requirements. 

When you’re transitioning into retirement, it might be difficult to find sport-related activities you like to do. However, staying active doesn’t always mean that you need to do sports activities. For example, gardening is a popular activity among older adults, which has many health benefits. When you’re actively gardening, you’ll reach CDC’s gardening guidelines effortlessly. Read more about the gardening benefits in my article, What Are The Benefits Of Gardening After Retirement?

8) Take Time To Transition Into Retirement

When you retire, you start a new chapter in your life. Successfully transitioning to retirement means that you take time to complete this process. You’re not in a hurry. You’ve worked for many years, and now is the time that you can enjoy your leisure. 

You must be aware of the several stages of retirement. It helps you to make the transition to retirement more successful. The stages of retirement are emotional stages every retiree passes during the transition to retirement. The emotions during these transition stages are similar, but everyone experiences them differently. I recommend reading my article What Are The Five Stages Of Retirement? for more information. 

For some people, it can take a few years before they reach the fifth stage of retirement. The stability stage is the stage where retirees fully accepted their retirement lifestyle and can enjoy their retirement to the fullest. 

Don’t limit yourself by saying, ‘I must complete these emotional stages of retirement before this date.’ By forcing this transition, you’ll probably be less successful. It’s better to go with the flow and focus on the present moments. Sometimes people complete the retirement stages without even noticing it. 

A great helpful tip that I got from my father-in-law is to structure your days. He always had a strict schedule when he needed to work or had time off. When he first transitioned into retirement, he felt a bit chaotic because his days didn’t have any structure. When he started to structure his days, he was able to enjoy them much more. Structuring your days can be as easy as waking up every day at the same time and create a schedule for activities that you’re doing every day. I share some structuring tips in my article, How To Structure Your Retirement Day.

9) Think About Healthcare Options

Thinking about healthcare options is probably not the most fun thing to do when you transition to retirement. However, it is important. We discussed Medicare earlier, a federal healthcare program for US citizens of 65 or older. 

But it is also important to learn about your other options. Maybe you need to change your healthcare plan because your employer coverage change after retirement. You also want to prepare for when you’re longer in retirement, and some health-related event happens. Think about what kind of care you want when you need it. It’s important to have some kind of plan because you never know what can happen. It helps you to transition into retirement more successfully and enjoy your retirement days much more. 

10) Discuss Your Retirement Plans With Your Spouse and Family

One of the most important things for a successful transition to retirement is to discuss your retirement plans with the people you love. Share your plans with your spouse first. 

You want to be on the same page with each other. It might be possible that you’re retiring, and your spouse still needs to work. Or that you both have different ideas on how to fill in your retirement days. Discuss these subjects and develop a plan for how you can both enjoy retirement in the best way possible. 

As I mentioned earlier, my parents-in-law were both used to having time for themselves because of my father-in-law’s work by the police force. When he retired, it was for both of them important that they kept their personal time. This was they’re able to enjoy their time together much more. 

It might feel uncomfortable to discuss your emotions and feelings. Still, in the end, it helps you and your spouse, and maybe others that are closely related, to successfully transition to retirement. 

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 100+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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