The Four Phases of Retirement…and the Psychological Challenges

University of Toronto

Dr. Riley Moynes has enjoyed a distinguished career spanning four decades in both public and private sectors. In public education, he has taught at the University of Toronto, as well as Lakehead University, Ontario, and has authored several textbooks, including a History of Russia, and a World Religions text. In the private sector, he was a Founding Partner of a national wealth management firm, author of the book The Money Coach, and co-author of several editions of Top Funds. His most recent book is the Canadian best-seller The Four Phases of Retirement.


If you are like most people, you probably are focusing (or have focused) your retirement planning almost exclusively on finances and estate-planning. After all, what everyone says is true: you do need to get ready financially. But that’s not all. Many people look forward to retirement, only to find that before too long they feel a bit bored, disappointed, and even a little depressed. You may not realize it, but you need to get ready for retirement psychologically, as well.

Based on extensive research and the personal journeys of hundreds of others, this talk explores and explains the four phases of retirement almost everyone experiences. By interviewing hundreds of retirees, Professor Moynes has discovered a framework that can help make more sense of this challenging chapter of our lives…one that, for many, could last for 30 years or more: about one-third of our lives! If you’re retired, this talk will make things much clearer for you. If you’re not, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when that time comes.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the ingredients of a successful retirement?
  2. What do people underestimate about retirement?
  3. Which of the four phases is most challenging?
  4. What are the characteristics of those who reach and live in Phase Four?
  5. For pre-retirees, what advice would you offer them about planning for the transition to retirement?




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Kolleen Martin

Assessment of program on life after retirement

Dr. Moynes explained the progression of life after work, i.e., retirement, as a set of steps, based on thousands of interviews with retirees, which was logical and realistic; it was very useful for him to present ideas on how to address the problems one could encounter with each step.

2 years ago
David Pine

Retirement Actions

Good research has produced a very beneficial lecture for pre retirement, or steps to enhance a person’s retirement.

2 years ago
Nancy W Perry


10 yrs retired and this year: a broken wrist, my beloved Mother’s death, and a hole in my rotator cuff from moving Mother’s heavy things and I’m full of fear, anxiety and uncertainty and…I don’t know why. Saw the 4 Phases of Retirement by R. Moynes and things fell into place. His saying ‘you are not alone”, so helped as I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me…so, I’m back in Phase 2, but have already taken steps to ‘move out’.Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Nan 22 P and thank you OneDay U

2 years ago
Joanne Cohen

gender differences

I wish the speaker had acknowledged that for many many people, especially women (just looking at statistics), caregiving is going to comprise a big piece of retirement. Whether it’s one’s advanced age parents, one’s spouse, or a disabled adult child, women are likely going to be engaged in caregiving. Also, grandchildren is an enormous piece of the joy that my women friends discuss in retirement; that the boredom they had settled into totally shifted once they had that new relationship. So some of us will be caregiving and enjoying our grandchildren in phase 4, and finding that gives us plenty of meaning, through relationships.

2 years ago
Andrew Dizon

An ideal approach to retirement

I am still at least six years away from retirement in my current career. I have been daydreaming about phase 1 slot recently. I have already experienced some of the issues that come about in phase 2 in regards to my military reserve career. Even though I still keep in touch, the reality that is ever present that I am not part of it any more. I do take comfort in that in all of my daydreaming about phase 1, I keep wondering what can I do to occupy time productively. This lecture has given what is really important to consider in planning my retirement.

1 year ago
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