• Nancy Griffin

New Study Shows High Correlation Between Preparation and Quality of Life in Retirement

Large majority of pre-retirees do not feel prepared for retirement—with many older Americans on the wrong side of the “digitial divide” without technology access or aptitude.



A new study by Edward Jones and Age Wave, Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement, explores what it means to experience optimal well-being and thrive in retirement. The survey of more than 11,000 people was conducted online by Harris Poll in January and February 2022 and consisted of adults aged 45+ who are retired or within 10 years of retirement.


The study shows expectations and hopes about retirement and its character have shifted. For the parents of today’s retirees and pre-retirees, the focus of retirement was mostly on “rest and relaxation.” Now the majority of retirees and pre-retirees view retirement as “a new chapter in life.”

Work in retirement is now part of the new longevity equation. Almost 3 in 5 surveyed want to work in some way during their retirement, with 22% looking to work part time, 19% hoping to cycle between work and leisure, and 18% wishing to work full time.


The survey defines Four Stages of the New Journey:


Stage 1: Anticipation: is the pre-retirement period when people are still primarily focused on their careers, raising a family, and perhaps caregiving aging parents. However, they are beginning to imagine and prepare for their coming life in retirement.


Stage 2: Liberation/Disorientation is a transition period, a time for getting used to retirement and figuring out what it really means, typically lasting a couple of years. This stage has two names because for most it is a complicated double-edged sword. 48% of Stage 2 retirees say they worry about outliving their money.


Stage 3: Reinvention is the heart of retirement, where retirees actively shaping their new post-work identities and lifestyles. This is the stage where we see the greatest variety of activity and experience. 80% of today’s retirees in the stage 3 are aby Boomers.


Stage 4: Reflection/Resolution retirees have learned how to make the most of life in retirement. They have the wisdom, experience, and hindsight to appreciate this chapter in their life. Most feel relatively secure in their lives and their finances and have learned how to live within their means. 86% of retirees in Stage 4 say they “have grown more resilient."


The survey found that respondents in the heart of retirement divide into four distinct groups, characterized by their attitudes and ambitions, their circumstances and retirement preparations, and their level of enjoyment of life in retirement: Purposeful Pathfinders, Relaxed Traditionalists, Challenged yet Hopefuls, and Regretful Strugglers.


Purposeful Pathfinders is the group that enjoys the greatest well-being in retirement. They are leading active, engaged, happy, purposeful, productive, and contributory lives. Of all the groups, they are the best prepared for retirement, especially financially.


Relaxed Traditionalists are pursuing a more traditional retirement, focused on relaxing, enjoying life, and being free from obligations and past responsibilities.


Challenged yet Hopefuls are trying to make the most of retirement despite financial uncertainty. Similar to Purposeful Pathfinders, these women and men lead active lives and are focused on continual selfimprovement, especially around their health.


Regretful Strugglers are the largest of the four groups (31%). They are the least prepared for retirement and overall feel the least positive about life.


Thriving in Retirement


The study shows almost everyone with retirement ahead of them can be doing more to get ready—and more to improve their lives across the four pillars. All pre-retirees can be developing financial strategies, improving their health, communicating with family openly and constructively about retirement, and entering retirement knowing how and where to find a sense of purpose.


The ultimate hallmarks of overall well-being in retirement are being active, engaged, connected, purposeful, and positive in life. Retirees also thrive by being generative— giving back to family, community and society, sharing their wisdom, and preparing to leave a lasting legacy. Three out of four retirees surveyed feel a responsibility to help future generations.


Download the survey here.

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