The 4 phases of finding happiness and purpose in retirement

At autum, I’m looking for a like-minded community of people to shape the future of ageing

Retirement - Martin Werth

Do you remember the advert for Remington shavers, when Victor Kiam said “I liked it so much I bought the company.” That was 1979, 44 years ago.  Well, it has relevance today, because when it came to retirement, I believed there was a massive void of support, so I created a company, autum.  Let me explain. 

All of us will stop work at some point in our lives… we hope, but also fear. 

Of course, when this is years away, it has the idyllic allure, like the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow, promoted in many pension ads with healthy active retirees skipping through the white Caribbean sand, or sipping a cocktail against a perfect blood orange sunset. 

tropical paradise - retirement idyll
Tropical paradise: kayaking in azure blue seas

But the reality for many of us is that retirement can be very different. For most people it’s anticipation mixed with uncertainty. Those who have experienced it describe 4 phases.

4 phases of finding purpose in retirement

Phase 1

Phase 1 is the vacation, with no structure, no routine, frequent holidays and complete relaxation.  Typically, this lasts for up to one year, after which boredom creeps in and you question whether this is all there is.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is when the sense of loss hits. You miss the routine, the sense of purpose, the identify and power associated with your job and the banter with your work colleagues. Fear, anxiety and even depression can creep in.

Phase 3

is when you turn the corner and ask yourself how to make your life meaningful again, when you think about what you used to love to do and what would make you jump out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step. This is a period of trial and error, where some of the activities you had wanted to do disappoint.

Phase 4

The breakthrough phase, when you realise what your new mission is.  If you can get to this phase, it should be the happiest period and it is often best when the new mission supports others, whether through volunteering, or within the family. Not everyone moves through these phases.  Many stall at Phase 2.

Martin and Lisa Werth - retirement
Lisa and me in Canada in 2022

Prior to autum, I had started and run several businesses.  Work had been full on – up every morning before 6am and home at 8pm.  Even downtimes were interrupted by emails and calls. When I considered my next phase in life, I was a workaholic, overweight, did little exercise and didn’t have time for others.

Society is living longer

My epiphany was when I remembered a learning experience as a young actuary.  I had analysed the stats that showed as a society we were living longer, but healthy life expectancy had remained almost fixed. So effectively, medical advances were extending, not compressing, our years of later life disability.  I read as much as I could on this subject and concluded that what was critical was not knowledge, but motivation to change habits and a navigation system to track where you were and the direction you needed to go.

Now I was about to enter this phase, I had my Victor Kiam moment and decided to set up autum, with a North Star to make Britain 1m biological years younger. Effectively, this meant finding 300,000 plus like-minded people and helping them to turn their biological clock back 3 years.

Key to this was a tool to measure biological age, motivation to change habits to make people more physically, mentally and socially active and tools to track and reward progress.  Of course, if people feel good about what they’re doing, they’ll do more of it.  The biggest challenge is to start the journey.

autum LifeScore -

This is also a personal journey and I have already made significant changes – I exercise regularly, walk the dogs daily and find time to chat to people, I’ve even tried a cookery class.  But I still have some way to go, especially on mindfulness and sleep.

At autum, I’m looking for a like-minded community of people to shape the future of ageing.  Our collective experiences and knowledge, harnessed within an App could just be enough to nudge more people into their Phases 3 and 4 of retirement.  And being physically and mentally more active, with a positive life attitude and with a real purpose are the key lifestyle ingredients to turn back our biological age.

To help us make Britain one million biological years younger take our autum Lifescore calculator to determine your biological age and use our autum App on Android or IOS to help improve your biological age today!

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