3 Phases of Retirement: Go-Go, Slow-Go, No-Go Years

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Many of you have heard me talk about what I call the 3 phases of retirement. The Go-Go years, the Slow-Go years and the No-Go years. I saw that in full display last week in St. Simons. People in all 3 phases of retirement enjoying things at a different pace.  I thought it would be a good time to review my thoughts on this.

I’ve said for years that retirement can be divided into these 3 phases and it’s important to recognize what phase you are in. I’ll throw some age ranges in each for context, but these aren’t set in stone. There are always folks who are the exception rather than the norm.

Go-Go Years
These are the first years of retirement all the way up to about age 70. If you retire early it could be age 50 or 55. I call this the Go-Go years because you now have the time to do the things you’ve been putting off because you aren’t restricted by your job. During these years, you are also likely as healthy as you are going to be. Certainly some folks experience more health challenges than others, but generally speaking they are still able to go and do many of the things they did when they were younger. You also have a greater number of friends who are able to travel with you and spend time doing other social activities.

I never really meet a stranger so it’s pretty easy for me to connect with new folks, but for some folks, that is a challenge. Pickleball has been a tremendous social outlet for me and for others as well. The pickleball community is a great group of folks and if I were new to a town, I would find a local pickleball court and begin playing. You’ll meet a ton of great folks!  On a side note, you know what is never discussed on a pickleball court…politics! It’s a glorious thing! I’ve plugged into the pickleball scene in St. Simons and I bet there are 30 people who know my name and I know theirs. They are very welcoming.

Slow-Go Years
Generally speaking, these years are from about age 70 to age 80. Not for everyone, but for many. During this phase, things tend to slow down some because our bodies start to break down a bit. There are certainly exceptions to this. One of my pickleball mentors is Joe McDaniel. Many of you know Joe. He’s a retired local pastor and one of the most kind, well-respected people in the world. I love that guy! He’s 75 years old and is one of the best pickleball players around. He moves like he is 45, he looks like he’s 50, and he seems to have the energy of someone half his age.

Most of us don’t age like Joe has. Unfortunately, we spend more of our time at doctor appointments and getting around isn’t as easy as it used to be. Anytime I mention a doctor appointment to my parents, they tell me I haven’t seen anything yet! I know my time is coming.

Another thing that happens is we start losing friends and family members. We attend way more funerals than weddings at this stage of our lives. These loses usually change our travel plans and our daily routines.

No-Go Years
I classify this stage as over 80, even though I know a lot of folks over 80 who are still very active. I played pickleball yesterday at FPD with several of my regular partners. While playing, a group of ladies gathered to play on the court next to us. Between games I went over and introduced myself. All were widows and all were over 85. They were relatively new to the game but they were out having fun.

What I commonly see at this age is men who don’t really want to go do anything. They are fine just staying home. Sometimes the woman still wants to travel and she finds herself doing more outings with the ladies. I do see travel pick up a bit for ladies in their 80s after their husbands pass away.

This isn’t a scientific study, just my observation from working with hundreds of families over the years. My purpose in sharing this with you again is for you to make the most of today. Don’t put off the things you can do today with the intention of doing that sometime in the future. Live life to the fullest while you are still able to!

Over the last month or so, I’ve met with several clients who just wanted to make sure the things they’d like to do now, won’t jeopardize their future. If you’d like to talk through some of those things with me, please reach out. I’d love to help you make the most of your retirement, no matter the phase you are in.

Enjoy your summer and thanks for the trust you’ve placed in me!