Retirement is the time of enjoyment, right ?
How many of us have seen those heart-tugging ads which show a gentleman with silvery hair laughing at nothing in particular ( but laughing, all the same ), with a tall glass of juice & looking down the picturesque valley… What they want to convey is that you will be wild with joy during retirement, if your buy their pension policies, retirement homes etc.
The veracity of such claims is difficult to ascertain when one invests in them. It is only over time that one will know if there will be a smile on the face or it will be a knitted brow and a careworn face.
Irrespective of which products we have invested, we have to fund our retirement well. No one in their right mind would plan to depend on the benevolence of their children, in their golden years. That much we all agree.
Let us say that we have enough resources for a decent life during retirement. Can one then smile and look forward to a dream retirement? It depends.
Time crawls in retirement
Retirement is not just about comfortable money situation. The retirement period these days can be between 20-30 years. That’s a pretty longtime in which to do nothing! That’s the point. Retirement period can be super boring, if one has not planned the retirement years.
One needs to find something to do. Many people are so focussed on their careers that they have not done anything else. This is a problem. After retirement, only so much time can be spent labelling bottles in kitchen ( and being a nuisance to the spouse as she anyway knows what is where! ) or relining the shelves !
The other major pastimes could include scanning the murders, burglaries & which actors are having a fling, in the papers. One cannot spend more than one hour with that! Walking, watching TV, listening to music etc. again don’t seem to help in filling the day calendar. Even the small chores of buying veggies, helping cut them, washing / drying/ folding clothes won’t take too much time. There are hour and hours which loom large.
Finding meaningful work
Many mention that they would like to do meaningful work in retirement - some say they want to teach in schools, some want to pursue music/ arts, others want to travel extensively, some are spiritually inclined…
Ironically, for many, these things don’t find a mention in the roster of things to do, once they retire. Retirement period for these people would be a time to do nothing. But, that would make life mind-numbingly boring. Also, it would take a toll on their health.
Studies have found that many people find the transition from an active work life to a retired life, quite unsettling. They brood a lot and it tells on their health. So, it’s important to do something that one likes so that they may stay healthy
How to prepare for retirement?
There are lots of fancy ideas people have for spending time in retirement years. But they are not well thought out. People say that they will spend time with friends and relatives. While that is fine, the amount of time one may be able to spend with them will be limited considering that they may have their own priorities in life.
So, along with saving money, one needs to start giving due thought to one’s activities in retirement. One may make a roster of interesting things one always wanted to do & see if some of them can be started prior to retirement itself, in a small way. For instance, if one is a nature lover, one may join groups which have weekend activities like treks, bird watching expeditions, excursions to nearby places of interest etc. Such kind of engagements would give a taste of what one may be able to pursue more actively in retirement. One may try multiple things like this and be able to identify one’s true interest areas. Also, closer retirement, it helps to list out all kinds of activities from walks, visit to the temple, bank work, book reading, visiting friends etc. and see how one can be happily engaged.
Retirement - a fulfilling period
That is really what it could be. There are no pressures here. Hopefully, children are settled. This is a time for doing what one likes, without any restrictions. Proper preparation is necessary for easing into a life that is truly energising, elevating and blissful. We owe it to ourselves.
We all have about 20 years + in retirement. One gets another shot at living a wonderful life. It’s a blessing, really. Let’s make that count.
Suresh Sadagopan is a Certified Financial Planner and runs Ladder7 Financial Advisories, a fee-only financial planning firm.