Life after Retirement
The thought of life after retirement makes some people cheerful and happy, while for some this can be a nightmare or cause anxiety about how life would be after they leave their regular profession or occupation.
Life after retirement can be the best years of your life or the worst. Your choice of attitude and actions can make the difference between boring or brilliant years because life begins after retirement.
Here I’m not talking about the retirement financial planning aspect but more on how you can keep yourself engaged and happy after retirement.
For more about the importance of retirement planning you can read Why Retirement Planning is Important
We will not go deeper in to financial aspects but touch upon a few relevant areas. The focus is on how to keep yourself engaged in some productive activity or occupation or hobby.
Dilemma after Retirement
If we look closely at our own lives or those of our parents, elders, grandparents, etc we will come across different scenarios and how they managed it. Most people have dilemma with respect to how to keep themselves engaged after retirement, and in some cases they need an income as well as occupation to earn money as well as to be productive.
If you take your own case you may fall under one of the two categories or somewhere in the middle (a combination of both):-
Case 1: To continue doing some work to generate income for future needs.
Case 2: To just be able to be engaged in a hobby or activity to keep yourself active, healthy and happy (assuming you are well-off financially in terms of income as well as assets).
We can name these as below
Case 1: Income plus Productivity or Engagement
Case 2: Productivity/Engagement
Most people who are in the middle-class or lower segments will fall under Case 1 assuming their income or financial position is average or not good. Since this is most relevant for common-man lets discuss this first.
Disclaimer: The example and names used do no represent real people. They are some examples which have similarity to real-life situations.
Income plus Productivity/Engagement
Lets take the case of Mr. Ramesh, who retired from a middle-level management role from Canara Bank. Mr.Ramesh opted for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) where he received a lumpsum of Rs.10 lakhs in the year 2003.
However, despite saving and investing the sum in fixed deposits, stocks, etc. he is not able to earn enough to create income for himself and his wife. Given a monthly expense budget of Rs.30,000 he found that his retirement savings are running out gradually.
In the year 2005 one of his friends was setting up a fast food start-up and was looking for loans and met Ramesh to discuss about the procedures for applying for a bank loan.
Ramesh helped the entrepreneur friend to prepare a project report, help with paper work, etc. The friend managed to get a loan of Rs.5 lakhs and was able to expand his business dramatically.
Ramesh not only earned goodwill but also respect and additional income by offering his expertise. This become a strong turning point and Ramesh go more references to start-ups and small companies who needed funding for new projects.
Ramesh thanked God for the opportunity to make use of his banking and lending skills after retirement. Today, he has his own consultancy with about 20-25 clients who consult him on getting finance for start-ups, new projects, expansion, etc.
Mr.Manpreet, a senior director in a multinational – Nestle retired from full time service in the year 2009. Manpreet and his wife were financially strong and independent. They have two properties in New Delhi – one where they live and the other which is rented out earning Rs.20,000 per month.
Further, Manpreet receives a pension of Rs.70,000 per month and also receives income from investments in stocks, agricultural land in Amritsar Punjab, etc.
Financially he does not have any constraints, but he suffers from occasional anxiety, worries, etc. because of his health condition and also because he found that retired life is boring and dull.
On advise of his kids he and his wife travelled to Amritsar for pilgrimage, and later did an All India tour, and also went abroad for sometime, but after a year, they were pretty bored. Moreover, they had to travel less due to their poor health.
One fine day Manpreet meets his friend Batra who works as a Faculty in a management institute. During a casual chai-time conversation Manpreet talks about his experiences and trips as well as retired-life. Batra was shocked to hear about his boring retired life and suggested him to do some workshops and seminars in management institutes to utilize his knowledge and skills to educate and train the young professionals.
Manpreet was pleased and shouted “Wow balle balle…..Batra you really opened my eyes”. Later Manpreet met a few management institutes offering MBA courses and had meetings with faculty, dean, etc. One college recruited him as a visiting faculty for subjects like “Marketing Mgmt”, “Strategic Marketing”, etc.
Today there is no worry for Manpreet as he is able to work on his own terms with different institutions and earn the same respect, self-esteem and influence that he was known for during his Nestle days.
Case 2 might appear to be simple, but its more of a psychological issue which is equally important.
Remember that even if you are financially sound any incidents, issues or problems in the family can also lead to anxiety, depression, etc. Hence, its more important to have a healthy life with strong relationships in addition to being financially sound.
Life after Retirement – Case of Shocks or Surprises
The two stories above clearly outline the need for you to know “What to do” after retirement. If you don’t think about it well in advance probably you will face a shocker.
Mr.Gajendra, a senior citizen who was working as a sales executive with an insurance company retired without a plan. He was neither financially sound, nor did he prepare for alternate jobs or careers. He was shocked at the fact that he could not do anything after retirement except for eating and sleeping.
For any hobbies, travel, etc. it required more money which he did not have. What next? He decided to learn computers to do some freelance jobs, but to his shock the job was too difficult since he was not comfortable with computers, and the pay was low as well. It took 5 years for Gajendra to learn about copywriting, blogs, etc.
Today he make a living out of blogs, writing books as well as from other freelance work. He admits to his mistake and says “Had I planned well in advance I would be earning more and living comfortably! However, thanks to my friend Ravi who helped me sail through this though phase!”
Not everyone has a savior like Ravi, who helped Gajendra during his last days. So planning in advance and having back-up options is critical.
How to Decide What to Do?
Before you even think of retirement start putting some funds aside on a regular basis so that it accumulates in to large sum overtime. For more on this you can refer Why Retirement Planning is Important
Apart from funds you also need to have some assets or property where you plan to settle. Thirdly, you need to identify your skills, talents, knowledge, etc where you can work or provide consultancy or start a venture, pursue a hobby, etc. You could explore one or more of the following options:-
- You can try doing some freelance work or projects to test waters to see where your skills can add value (and you get income and quality work to do)
- You can get training or start updating your skills (so that your skills are not outdated as in case of Mr. Gajendra)
- For instance if you want to pursue a career in music. photography you need to get trained on it
- If you want to earn money it is more critical to be well qualified or experienced or skilled in your profession. (in case of a part-time hobby you need not be highly skilled)
- Try building contacts or references who can help you get jobs or business in a particular industry or sector
- You can also partner with like-minded people who have complementary skills or have funds to start up a venture or consultancy
- There are some organizations which hire retired bankers, engineers, etc. as officers or consultants and this can become a superb platform for your second innings.
- If you haven’t retired yet or if you are not thinking about it, then start exploring part-time work and options where you can get an opportunity to move to other sectors or industries (which may not be possible in a short-span.
There is no “one-size fit all” approach here, but once you understand the criticality of the situations above you should have a rough plan on what options to pursue.
Remember that the best time to explore your options is before retirement; because once you retire you will not have the luxury of experimenting or trying out new things or your health or financial situation may pose constraints.
Enjoying life after retirement involves continuing to see yourself as competent and useful. Remember to value your accomplishments and other roles as much as you did your working role. Retirement may be the end of one kind of accomplishment, but it opens the door to many others.
A gold watch is the most appropriate gift for retirement, as its recipients have given up so many of their golden hours in a lifetime of service. ~ Harry Mahtar
Hence, to sum up I would advise everyone including the young professions to think about ‘retirement’ at the back of their mind. This is no longer an old age phenomena because once you get in to the busy cycle of life that starts with seeking jobs, seeking higher pay/position, marriage, higher job responsibilities, kids, more family responsibilities, etc……and so on you will be swamped with so much to do.
Do not forget you have retired from your job, not from your life! Make good use of your time. Indeed, life after retirement is one when you realize that you never get a day off; you are always busy doing things you love!
And finally before you know it you will be retiring with no plan and face huge challenges. Instead I would suggest you to plan from today so that you have time on your side to plan and design your retirement, which will fulfill your dreams and aspirations and enable you to enjoy your life after retirement.