Planning for Retirement
Retirement has nothing to do with you or your competence. It is an event which is the result of the policies of your employer and this is an inevitable stage in all our lives. It is estimated that the population of 60 year olds in the World will cross 1 billion by the end this decade. India will have over 100 million seniors
Each one of us is unique and will have our own suite of needs, experiences, personal and family circumstances, financial needs and personal health. So why don’t we want to plan for this next important phase of our life carefully and well in advance of the date of superannuation? It is important for each one of us to consider the following thoughts as we plan our retirement. These are merely pointers and by no means a comprehensive solution to the challenges we are likely to face in our retired life.
Acceptance of the New Normal and No Self-pity
The single biggest challenge I have seen that retirees face is internal acceptance that they have reached the age of retirement. Till you accept this stage of life happily, you will always be unhappy and possibly angry for not having been given the time to achieve all that you may have set out to achieve. You could be angry because you started work later than others and therefore got your due later than others or had a shorter working life. You could also slip into a very convenient mode of acceptance of self-pity.
I have met so many retirees who preface their venting with the words “If only” and I tell them “Why blame the World and everyone else for a retirement event that you have no control over? The quicker you accept that you have retired or are about to retire, the faster you will adjust to your new life”.
Social Networks and Technology
There is a whole new world waiting for us in the world of social media and technology. According to the Pew Research Centre, Internet use among those 60 and older grew 150 percent between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, their study showed that of those that go online, 71 percent do so daily and 34 percent use social media. Their numbers have increased very significantly since this research. The seniors use these tools to bridge the geographic gap between them and their loved ones far away and as a way to re-connect with friends. Studies show that the internet has become an important portal for reducing isolation and loneliness.
The “seniors” are taking to social media like a fish to water discovering school and college friends like never before. Well beyond our normal Facebook page and our posting of the occasional photograph and sometimes hitting the “like” button. Skype and WhatsApp groups are overflowing with forwarded and re-forwarded messages. More savvy seniors are on Instagram and discovering a whole new world.
For many of us who believed that we had no time to learn social media because of work related time pressures, retirement is an excellent time to make this transition. Remember that when we started work three decades ago, computers were new and we had to learn this new tool as well! My 87 year old father stayed in regular touch with his grandchildren using various social media platforms.
Start a social group with like-minded people in areas that you like and you will soon discover many new friends.
Management of Expectations
We have to recognize one blunt truth. Our lives will change once we retire. There is no point in hanging on to memories. Even these will change over time. How we manage this change is entirely dependent on us. We need to understand our own reality and we need to deal with this reality.
Management of our expectations post retirement goes well beyond managing our finances. While money is always a critical component, disappointments of retired life often go beyond financial security. I have met many retirees who are disappointed that they have not planned their time well or they have not cultivated any hobbies or have not built a circle of friends beyond their work colleagues or have lost contact with family members.
To these people I say that it is never too late to start. Remember that you are looking at the next three decades of your life ahead of you.
Establish a new Routine for yourself
Most of us have been used to a routine that has been developed in our working life. As most of us reach the age of superannuation our children will not demand much time since they would have started their own lives. Our spouses will have accepted our companionship rather than demanding our time. Our routine would have been evolved based on spending long hours at the office and spending more client facing hours. As we retire, we are not able to figure out how to manage all the surplus time that we have.
The change, therefore, when we retire is very significant. We will suddenly have most of our waking hours to account for and use gainfully. In order to achieve this new normal sensibly, we need to work out a routine and follow it assiduously. Some people I know have actually got their routine logged into their Outlook calendar and follow it carefully. Too much of any one activity is not sustainable and therefore we will have to develop of blend of routines covering a multitude of activities.
Most of us are so used to working long hours at work that we almost feel guilty when we think of leisure. Therefore, when we look at retirement as a time for leisure, we miscalculate or underestimate that this can be a time of fulfilment.
Take out your “bucket list” and start working on it. If you have not prepared one, now is the time to start listing out everything you have always wanted to do but did not have the time to do.
Watch all those movies and television serials that you did not have time for. Try out all those new restaurants and cuisines. Develop new skills. There are hundreds of options available and if this involves you taking some educational courses, so be it.
Travelling today is easier and much more affordable than when we started working in the seventies or eighties. If you can afford it, travel to places within your country or the World. Plan to travel to places that you have always dreamt of but were not able to go to.
In your retirement, your leisure is real and well-earned after three decades of working. Retirement needs effort and the earlier you start making this effort the happier you will be. For you, moving forward in your new life as a retiree, the World must know no boundaries.
Planned well, you may suddenly realise that your retirement will become a busiest phase of your life, much more than you had imagined.