Phased Retirement: The Hype Cycle

There’s a lot of hype about retirement.  Some of the buildup is external via advertising, articles, well-intentioned friends and marketing spin about the wonderful opportunities that await us. But some of it comes from our own internal voices.

We go back-and-forth between thinking about how wonderful it will be to ditch all those things about work that we don’t like – meetings, unreasonable deadlines, and perhaps even unreasonable people – to wondering what we’ll do with all that time when our work requirements ease?  We’ll have weeks and months and years stretching out before us that we’ll need to fill.

There’s a parallel here to the Gartner Technology Hype Cycle.  Gartner is an information technology research firm that has used their Hype Cycle for many years to portray the introduction and the maturing of new technologies (like Zoom).

As Gartner puts it, “Humans are famously bad at predicting the future of technologies.”

And we’re probably equally poor at predicting what life will be like in retirement.

The Hype Cycle starts with a trigger, but rather than a new technology, let’s say the trigger is your retirement day.

After the trigger, the initial phase is deemed the Peak of Inflated Expectations. We see all the potential and discount any downsides.  This initial peak is followed by a steep downturn aptly labeled the Trough of Disillusionment.

The ‘Trough’ is where the reality of the downsides show up and can cause us to make hasty decisions. But over time, we eventually move on through the next phase of the upward Slope of Enlightenment (through learning and adaptation) and finally reach the final phase of the Plateau of Productivity where we fully adjust to the new reality and reap the benefits.

I’ll further explore managing a phased approach to this retirement “hype cycle” in next week’s post.

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