Retirement is not the stoppage of work: in today’s evolving context it is simply a transition from one phase of life to another. It is also not something that is uniquely recent in that our traditional scriptures and texts also speak of the four phases in a human’s life, with the third dealing with retirement from the activities of daily life. Let us examine the key changes that will happen with this transition, at an individual level:
1- Cessation of full-time paid employment. While this may have been dogmatically true in the past, in the rapidly changing nature of work nowadays – where a lot of work is anyway gig, mutating, and transient – this is not likely to represent a major shift going forward
2- Post consolidation of experience for over a decade or more, retirement represents a phase of mentoring, coaching, and giving back in some ways to business and society at large. It is important to recognise this as one of the major changes.
The emphasis is not so much on doing and achieving as much as it is on reflecting and contributing in a larger and potentially more impactful way. From the relatively narrow lens of what is good for business, one moves the focus to what is good for society at large more directly. More avenues open up. At the same time, organisations and individuals that are keen to tap into the specific depth of expertise that an individual has will see this phase as fruitful, with opportunities to work with younger leaders and guide them in their growth process.
3- The learning journey never stops. Each of us will see several changes in a lifetime and of course, it is now a given that we will each see several different occupations in our careers. This will imply that the capacity to learn must be evergreen and regenerative, to allow us to change course, discard what is no longer of use and pick up what is required to move forward with vigor and confidence. Curiosity, willingness to experiment, creativity, and being grounded in values will be of exponential value.
4- So even as one plan for the learning and contribution journey, the financial aspects are of equal importance and must not be ignored. The first of these is that earnings are likely to take a dip and hence the sooner one starts planning and converting plans to action in terms of long-term investments, the better and easier it will be pos- retirement.
There is a certain propensity for risk that every individual has, and it is easier to take an occasional dip in earnings when one is in the 20s and 30s. These decisions need to be taken early and acted upon. There are several excellent retirement calculators online that will help estimate what level of income is required in the future to support a particular lifestyle that one is accustomed to.
One major element of the expense is likely to be medical: hospitalization costs have swung by a large margin every year for the past two decades or so and will continue to rise. The availability of insurance will make a big difference to peace of mind and stability of finances going forward. Consulting a competent financial advisor who can help rebalance portfolios, for instance, can help assure stability going forward.
5- Retirement is from employment, not from life! It’s greatly important not to lose sight of fun – whatever that might mean at an individual level, this is the right time to pursue it! Whether it is a hobby in which one is actively involved, or social service, or acquiring a new qualification, or any of a host of pursuits – there has never been a better time at the individual level and indeed the opportunities available at a macro level are also superlative now.
Retirement is a phase in life that represents new and different opportunities for the individual and preparation and planning can be very enjoyable and as productive as the pre-retirement phase. It is for the individual to plan and take forward!