Sunday, 4 June 2017

Planning your Time in Retirement

As a wise man once said, if you must work, you must retire.

How you define your retirement will obviously differ based on your own imperatives and your personal reality. For sports persons, retirement comes early, once the body starts to age. For Government employees, retirement happens at age 58. For the private sector, it happens at age 60. For some like Judges, retirement is at 65. The only category which can possibly select his own retirement would be a businessperson or a professional and even these people speak about “hanging up their gloves” to do something else. Politicians are in a class of their own and never retire!

Keeping your mind and body healthy, throughout your life is essential, as you get older.

Here are a few questions to ponder over as you look ahead to your retirement years. Remember that the answers to each of these lie within yourself. The best time to start planning for your retirement is a couple of years before your date of superannuation. However, if you, like millions of others, did not want to face your impending retirement and brushed it away with the common statement “I will address this when I reach the age of retirement” then there is no better time than now to start planning how you will choose to spend the remaining one third of your life. This are decisions that should be taken based on several discussions between you and your partner.

It is important for me to state that my points below assume that you have saved enough to be financially secure and do not need to look for full time work and get back into the “yoke” once again. Even if you are financially secure, remember to include time in your routine to manage your finances on a regular basis.

What meaningful activities and new interests could you add to your routine?

Throughout your working life, you would have asked yourself why you did not seem to get the time to pursue your interests. You would have questioned why you were in the so-called rat race. You would have expressed frustration of working endlessly for someone else.

Several people I know have decided to give their time to a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) working in an area of their choice. Hundreds of NGO’s are looking for your expertise and will welcome you warmly. Then there are the Think Tanks. You could consider using your vast experience with such institutions. Finally, your Resident Welfare Association would gladly accept your time to manage the housing or condominium complex that you live in.

What were you passionate about when you were younger?

Are you a closet writer, composer, actor, singer, dancer, musician or artist? Were you a great sportsman?

I enjoyed writing when I was younger and I have picked this up in the last few years. A friend was a great musician but his strings went silent for three decades. He has picked up his instruments again. A banker friend has started painting and has just held his first solo exhibition. Another friend who had carefully built a library of films and television series has pulled out his saved treasure of films. Yet another friend who has always been a voracious reader initials every book he reads in his local library so that he remembers which book he has read! My wife enjoys bridge and she has invested in making several new “bridge” friends.

People are playing golf or tennis every day. Someone I know has taken to running marathons and is now running competitively around the word. There are so many interests that you must have wanted to pursue but did not have the time. Now is the time to make a new beginning. Now is the time for you to pursue the interests you may have been forced to put aside while working due to a lack of time?

What will your lifestyle be at age 70? At age 80?

As you plan the final three decades of your life, break these up in to three distinct phase. Your sixties, seventies and eighties will be very different and you need to keep plan carefully. Look back and think of what you could achieve in your twenties is not what you could do in your forties. Every passing decade will gradually change your body and slow you down. Slowing down is inevitable. Accept the ageing of your body gracefully. There is no point in fighting the gradual ageing process and getting frustrated by what you can no longer do.

If you continue working into your sixties, you will have to change tracks in your seventies. If you are playing a good game of tennis in your sixties, you will slow down in your seventies. If you do not watch television now, it may be a good idea for you to start getting interested in this “companion” sooner than later!

What are the shared interests between you and your partner?

Very few couples develop common interests through their working lives. Each individual is busy in his or her respective careers. On retirement, when much more time is spent together than throughout the working lives, individual interests start to clash with one another. What piques your curiosity need not necessarily interest your partner? Where you wish to spend your free time may not coincide with the plans your spouse has made. This leads to unnecessary dissonance. It is generally advisable to continue with your individual interests as both of you adjust to spending 24 hours of each day together. Some couples decide to travel extensively while others socialize much more and fix one day a week to entertain every week.

Finding too many common interests between spouses is generally a challenge and those couples who have found compatibility in their post-retirement interests are blessed.

As you plan your time for each day, the question to ask yourself is what you would choose to do if you had no other commitments on your time. Build a combination of work, hobby, leisure, exercise, siesta, social connections and personal space in your daily routine and you will be surprised to find that retirement is actually a phase in your life that you will enjoy.

There is no right or wrong answer on how you should use the time in your day. Use your time the way you are comfortable and happy with but remember that a daily routine is always good. It will help you to plan your day as well as to look forward to your next scheduled activity.

Live your retirement with your own plan. Not someone else’s. You have earned this right!

The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.

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