According to a study done by Edward Jones and Age Wave, there are 4 different “journey paths” that retirees take. Which one are you on?
Edward Jones partnered with age wave to survey 11,000 retiree and pre-retirees. They had, previously, come up with 4 pillars of satisfaction in retirement. They are: health, family, purpose and finances. (Sounds vaguely familiar.) In this new survey they asked questions about happiness, attitudes and ambition. That’s where the “journey paths” came to light. Let’s look at the 4 paths they defined.
The first path is called “Purposeful Pathfinders.” Nearly a quarter of all respondents fell into this category. These retirees and pre-retirees had done the most planning for retirement. They planned not only for the financial aspects, but the social, health and purpose pillars, as well. They are engaged in a wide variety of activities in retirement. They are focused on continued self-improvement, and, among all the groups, they most often say they are able to realize their hopes and dreams. From a psychological point of view, Purposeful Pathfinders rate themselves the happiest, most fulfilled, and most liberated among all retirees. 65% of them want to live to be 100.
The next path is called “Relaxed Traditionalists.” Just over a quarter of respondents fell into this category. They want a retirement more like what their parents had, where they can just relax and “go with the flow.” They are generally well-prepared financially. Overall, they’re comfortable and see little need to change. They are delighted to be free of work headaches and pressures. Their goal is simply to relax and have fun and they tended to have a bit more focus on family. Relaxed Traditionalists rate themselves as relatively happy and fulfilled, but somewhat less so than Purposeful Pathfinders and the third group “Challenged but Hopeful.” 56% of them want to live to be 100.
Challenged but Hopeful
The third path is called “Challenged but Hopeful.” This is about 20% of the population polled. These people were less prepared, financially, to retire, but interestingly they are very focused on health. They may well have to find ways to continue earning money or to spend far less in order to survive in their later years. This group says they have grown more wise and more resilient in retirement and they tend to focus on the purpose pillar in defining their Third Act, helping the future generation with their newfound wisdom. Though they didn’t focus as well on the financial pillar, their focus on the health and purpose pillars helps them generally rate themselves as “happy,” similar to the “Purposeful Pathfinders.” This group has the highest percent that want to live to be 100 at 67%.
The final group is called “Regretful Strugglers.” I bet you can tell from the name where they fall on the happiness scale. This group didn’t plan financially, and they are not finding their way with the other pillars, either. They tend to site an inability to find purpose. Only 35% look on retirement as “a new chapter in life,” and 18% (the most among the groups) see retirement as “the beginning of the end.” They engage in the smallest range of activities in retirement and are the most likely to be alone or socially isolated with only half (lowest among the groups) spending quality time with family and friends. Regretful Strugglers rate themselves the least happy among the groups, as well as the most anxious, isolated, and disappointed with their lives. Sadly, this is the largest cohort, with 31% of responders falling into this category. 56% want to live to be 100.
I hope you found yourself in one of the first three pillars.
Some takeaways for me were, first and foremost, of course, since this is Rockin’ The Third Act, the happiest group - Purposeful Pathfinders - was the one that did planning across all of the pillars and felt prepared not only financially, but the other pillars, as well. But I also found it interesting that the “Challenged but Hopeful” pillar was on par with the “Purposeful Pathfinders” in happiness and MORE likely to want to live to be 100. So, even if you didn’t prepare as well financially, if you put effort into the other pillars, you can be just as happy as those who did. It’s also interesting to me that over a quarter of retirees is happy with the traditional retirement. They are content to just take their foot off the gas and coast. While they rate themselves as relatively happy and content (though less so than Purposeful Pathfinders and Challenged but Hopeful), they are the group that is least likely to want to live to be 100. Maybe that has to do with tradition, as well (since their parents likely did not)? Or maybe they just don’t think too much about it and are willing to go wherever life takes them. Sadly, Regretful Strugglers didn’t plan, and they don’t plan on planning, either. They are not finding their way in any of the pillars and they tend not to be very happy.
Your personal Third Act journey
Whichever path you are on, I hope this helped you identify with a large group of co-travelers. Focus on the pillars that make you happy, or content. The best part about the Third Act is that it is all yours to define. Whether you are purposeful or traditional, or something else altogether, rejoice in the fact that you get to be YOU in this part of your life journey.
Another great write-up, Jeri!