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The Non-Financial Aspects in Retirement

Retirement period is bittersweet for most people. Almost everyone is looking forward to retirement. However, once there, time seems to be looming large on the horizon, with very little to do. 

Written by Suresh Sadagopan

The above premise is a huge shocker for people who have led a very busy life all along. Also, those in positions of power and overseeing armies of people, are particularly affected by the vacuum that retirement brings in its wake. Many people experience the feeling of worthlessness, of being unrecognised & neglected in the new phase of life.

But, retirement can well be enjoyed, like they portray in those pension product brochures & assisted living fliers! The important thing to recognise is that this is a new phase of life with new opportunities to contribute, enjoy & live up.

Lots of people want to do something good for society, the local community or contribute in some way for a cause.

But, you need to choose your advisors wisely as this can make or mar your future itself! You will find below some pointers towards how you could choose a financial planner/ adviser. Go through this carefully, before you make the choice.

Finding The Purpose

It’s important for everyone to reflect on what they would want to do in this period of life. Gone are the days when a retired person is in poor health, has a few years to live & is spending his/her days in the confines of their home.

Today, the retirees are quite healthy, have another 25-30 years ahead of them and are enthusiastic about doing something worthwhile in this phase of life.

Some of them have given a thought about what they would like to do when they retire and have gradually prepared themselves for retirement. Others need to contemplate and find out about what is truly important for them in life – what will be meaningful for them in retirement, what will give them the freedom, the fulfillment, the happiness…

There is an area called Life Planning where a person engages in such contemplation & comes up with what will be truly energising, truly fulfilling & elevating for them. This, of course, can be done at any stage of life. Retirement phase is a good time to explore & set the course for the life ahead.

Enrichment By Knowledge Transfer

We all would have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and skills, over time. Many just retire and settle into a life of domesticity, dull routines, and mind-numbing boredom.

Some others get on to completely different areas, which are new to them, where the wisdom arising out of their past experience cannot be properly used. Most times, we don’t even give enough thought to what we want to do going forward & hence the drift…

Talented retirees should take on mentees groom them & seek to transfer the knowledge and skills before they move on to doing something completely different in retirement. Those who are fine with know-how transfer can do it for free or can even coach people for a fee so that they can productively employ their time and also earn through this pursuit.

Corporates are guilty of letting talented, experienced employees retire and walk into the sunset. It is a criminal loss of accumulated skills, knowledge & wisdom for the organisation.

Only a few organisations seek to systematically tap into this treasure trove of talent, transfer the skills/ knowledge of the retiring employee and ensure that it is passed on to others. Only when this is done can the organisation truly grow. Else, it will keep falling back on learning knowledge & skills which were once part of the organisation but now has to be recreated as some skilled people who had that knowledge have retired. It would be such a colossal waste.

Corporates can put in place a mentor-mentee system for employees who have important knowledge & skills, about three years before they retire. A formal system with a clear mandate to transfer knowledge/ skills/ know-how is what can ensure best outcomes here.

Pursuing Passions

Many want to do other things in retirement. Things like travel, teaching, getting involved in social/ religious causes are some of the things which people show interest in.
Some just want to help their children by looking after & spending time with their grandchildren, which brings them great joy. Some of them even want to leverage their knowledge & start a business. All these things can make for a truly fulfilling retirement period which they enjoy & cherish.

This would ensure that they don’t feel that vacuum which many retired people experience immediately after their retirement.

The Joy Of Giving 

All of us have benefitted immensely from the society & ecosystem we are a part of. Along the way, many people have contributed to our growth & development. We have got our opportunities at various points, which also helped in our progress.

When we have been in the working phase, we would have had so many goals that the money we earned was all used up for our own well being. Some of us would have contributed to charity, even during this period.

A lot of us want to give something back, especially when most of our goals have been taken care of. We also want to show our gratitude and contribute to various causes we care about.

There are two ways in philanthropic giving:

  • Some people contribute money to the causes that are close to their heart. There are others who believe in getting involved too, over and above the mere act of donating money.
  • The latter is better in the sense that they would get even more satisfaction of seeing the fruits of their philanthropic giving taking shape before their very eyes. This would also give them an opportunity to spend their time productively and since this is something close to their heart, working there should also be a joyful elevating experience in itself.

Going one step further, people who want to support causes can also participate in impact investing. In impact investing, the focus is to address a problem for which many people contribute. The returns from such projects would at best be modest. But this is not charity & is more like getting a sustainable solution to a problem.

The quantum of money one can invest in impact investing can vary, but most projects allow even small contributions.

Living life & loving it!

Retirement period runs into decades. This period is also quite different from the other stages, in the sense, the typical material goals in life have already been met. In this period, with money worries sorted, one can pursue what is close to one’s heart. This is hence a wonderful period where one can pursue what would truly bring fulfillment, contentment & happiness.

Pursuing interests, spending time with mentees and grooming them, sharing wealth for good causes and getting associated with them can all be done in Retirement.

Who said Retirement needs to be one long, boring vacation, where every day looks like every other day? It’s actually the best chance to live life exactly the way one wants.

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