People can retire from work at any point in their lives. Whether or not someone retires voluntarily or involuntarily, he or she may face problems without a proper retirement plan. A person, therefore, needs to take a positive approach towards retirement as well as make necessary adjustments along the way.
Retirement is one of the most important events many of us will ever experience. From both a personal and financial perspective, realising a comfortable retirement is an extensive process that takes sensible planning and years of persistence. Even after you've retired, managing a new phase in your life is a full-time responsibility.
One of the major challenges after retiring is ensuring a sustainable flow of inflation-beating income to maintain one's standard of living. To maintain a constant income level, we may take up part-time work related to our past career or invest money that can be redeployed to produce a greater net yield.
We may also need to concentrate on decreasing extra expenditure by following smart strategies, for example, taking off-season holidays instead of on-season ones, using government retirement facilities, or making a routine budget for daily expenditure (food, clothing, medicine).
Physical well being
People inching towards retirement have to accept that they are no longer at the peak of their physical prowess. But this is not the reason to give up existing, active pursuits.
Care must be taken to avoid accidents, for example, possible hazards around the house should be eliminated. Steps must be taken to mitigate health risks, like being overweight. While it is important to maintain a healthy weight, never attempt crash slimming diets.
Physical exercise can be taken in many enjoyable ways and not merely through formal exercise sessions. Periodical health checkups with doctors are also advisable.
The right kind of perspective
Our view of retirement should not be limited to short term relaxation, like a long holiday. It should be extended to long term planning and careful preparation for the years ahead, which, as we all hope, may be a time of happiness and self-fulfilment. Instead of approaching retirement with vague uninformed ideas or seeing the future through rose-tinted glasses, it is worthwhile to take a good, hard look at what the future may hold.
Retirement is an intensely individual experience, but paradoxically you are also joining a multitude of other people who have also retired. In other words, you are not alone. People who take the trouble to plan and prepare for retirement rather than just letting it happen are far more likely to find it enjoyable and fulfilling.
The vital adjustment We tend to consider a retired person as someone who has ceased contributing to the economy and has earned for himself or herself a period of rest and inactivity. It is not surprising that many retired people passively accept this role thrust upon them, and the retirement years, which should be a time of enjoyment and fulfilment, very often become an inert period. We must fight this scrapheap mentality.
Conscious effort is required for adjusting to a new life pattern. During our service period, we go through a very routine and disciplined life with solid objectives, but when retirement hits, most people feel boredom or suffer from ill health as they fail to satisfy their disciplined lifestyle. We should recognise that our development is a lifelong process and that the adjustments we have to make in our search for a new sense of purpose in life requires a positive approach, not a passive surrender to future dependence and old age.
After retirement, when people need all the reassurance and counsel that friends can offer, their social circle gets contracted and they are thrust into a smaller and more personal world. Retirement affects not only them, but the lives of all those in their immediate family circle. It also needs a good amount of tolerance, patience, and understanding between partners. The same applies to single people and their relationships with those close to them.
Paid employment and voluntary work
After retirement, part-time paid work can bridge the gap when the retired employees' full-time careers end. This ultimately helps the retired employee with their finances, as well as providing regular human contact and preventing boredom. Consultancy can be a better option if you can build yourself as a successful consultant, as it will inevitably bring in its train increased overheads. Voluntary work, on the other hand, can provide satisfying personal relationships and the opportunity to make a worthwhile contribution to the community.
In conclusion, it can be said to all of us suffering from a sense of isolation after retirement that the feeling of having been pushed out of the mainstream into a forgotten land is untrue. You are simply joining the ranks of a great many people who have also retired. So instead of suffering from a sense of deprivation, let's look forward to the possibilities ahead.
The writer is the Head of HR & Admin at Grameen Telecom Trust