There are several myths about retirement that I heard from the many people I spoke to while writing my book “Reinvent, Reboot, Rewire. Managing retirement in the Twenty First Century”.
It is important for us to address these myths as we plan our journey into the next and possibly the most exciting phase of our lives.
Myth 1 – I am a Has Been. Am I still relevant?
Some of the people I spoke to commented that they had now become a “has been” and that they felt small when someone asked them “what they did for a living.” They were not proud to say that they had retired and so invariably they would give the name of the company where they were working or simply state that they were “on their own”.
Why does one start to feel smaller in one’s own eyes and assume that the rest of the people are looking at you in the same manner that you are seeing yourself? The actual fact is that no one, none of your friends or your relatives have any time to think of what you are doing or not doing. They are so preoccupied with own problems that they have neither the time nor the inclination to think of you.
No one knows you better than yourself. What is critical to understand is whether you are willing to be brutally honest with yourself as you plan for your life ahead. Unless you are able to look yourself in the eye without flinching, you will never have a plan that you will be able to live with for the remaining three decades of life ahead.
Retiring is not a stigma. It is a reality and will confront everyone one day in the journey.
Myth 2 – I have Been There Done That
You have had a wonderful career but is there any point in looking back with regret at what you have given up? The fact that you have “been there and done that” means that you have a lot of experience. Something that a young employee will not have. There is a lot to be said about experience so there is no reason to short change yourself.
This is the time to look ahead at the next 3 decades of your life. You can either choose to reset life and feel angry at everyone or you can look ahead with positivity and see what else you want to achieve in life that would be different from climbing up the work ladder.
You need to sit back and take stock of what you have achieved and more importantly, what do you want to achieve in the remaining “sunset” years of your life ahead. You need to talk to your spouse. If you do not accept your reality, it is your partner who will bear the brunt of your anger or depression or frustration.
Myth 3 – Nobody needs me anymore
The feeling of being unwanted seems to affect a lot of retirees.
While discussing this with members of an NGO that assists senior citizens I realised that a lot of retirees felt that they were no longer needed by their spouses, their children, their friends or the World in general.
Nothing could be further away from the truth and if your family cares about you, they will work extra hard to re-engage with you and make sure that you are connected back once again with the family that you provided for all your life.
Myth 4 – How will I know when it’s the weekend?
When I discussed post retirement plans with some new retirees, the biggest challenge I found they faced was how to pass time during the day. There was only so much television that they could watch and there was only a limited amount of time that they could use for reading.
One person even commented “I have no idea which day of the week it is. After all it does not matter at all. Every day is a Sunday now and there is nothing much to look forward to.”
It is therefore critical to establish a routine for yourself. You should dress up every morning from Monday to Friday as you would while working rather than stay in your night suit!
Myth 5 – My kids are not yet settled
One of the big concerns several of my friends have when they are approaching retirement is that their kids are not yet settled. I assume the words “settled” means that their kids have not yet started to earn enough to support their own lifestyle or that they are still dependent on their parents for some kind of support.
Several people I know have children who are not yet married though they are ready to retire and this is a reason for some stress in the couple. Why do most of us believe that even after we have spent money to educate our children, we still carry the responsibility of making sure that they are settled and married? Remember that post retirement, any money you spend is at the cost of your future.
Don’t worry too much about your children. Don’t become a slave to their needs. Care for them, love them, give them gifts but also enjoy your money while you can. At the same time don’t expect too much from your children. They will be with their jobs and commitments to render much help. It would also be unfair to expect too much support from children. In retirement, you and your spouse will be on your own.
Such stresses are self-imposed on ourselves. If our kids expect support beyond our retirement then they need to some serious introspection. Think about a situation where you need financial support from your children and the answer will come to you quickly.
Myth 6 – Can I maintain a work schedule that I have been used to?
There is no doubt that as you get older your body will slow down and you cannot keep the same as you would have when you were in your thirties. However, there is no sudden switch in your body that goes off the day you retire.
It is critical for you to maintain a schedule similar to what you have been used to so as to retain your sanity in the early months after your retirement. If in your previous position you worked from 9:30 to 5:30, base your new schedule on those hours. If you want to dedicate more time, that is great. Just don’t burn yourself out.
Fit some exercise in your schedule and avoid multiple trips to the kitchen during the day. Eating healthy and exercise will keep you mentally and physically prepared for your challenges. Keep yourself active. Try not to adopt a new lifestyle of watching television and extended afternoon naps.
Sit back, relax and look forward to a new and exciting phase of your life.
You are not old at all!
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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