Saturday, June 17, 2000

Retiring need not mean end of the road

By R.C. Sharma

"A stitch in time saves nine", somebody has rightly said. You are fortunate if you have discharged your liabilities before your retirement and saved some money to meet your daily requirements.

But there are those who have yet to discharge liabilities such as solemnising the marriages of their sons and daughters. Even, some of their children have yet to complete their education. The impending fear of retirement haunts such persons because their regular income ceases and they have to depend on a meagre pension. The money received after retirement will have to be spent on the education and marriages of their children.

Some retirees have to work to supplement their income to run the household affairs while others are carefree, because their children are already earning hands. They themselves manage the affairs of their families.

While some retirees are happy, others do wish they could return to work and to the life they knew during their working years.

The specific problems that retirees face are: First, they lose their economic role immediately after retirement and face a sudden fall in income and social contacts. Second, an employee’s daily routine is more rigidly determined by his job conditions. This is disrupted after retirement. Third, consequent upon his retirement, the retiree loses an important social role. He must seek alternative roles to avoid a state of fruitless inaction. He must bring about such changes in his daily routine so as to protect himself from a sense of being an unwanted member of the society and the family.

You have to fight off these problems thrust upon you so suddenly, by making adjustments in life. You are to live in harmony not only with yourself but with your surroundings, family, friends and the society in general.

After retirement, as in every stage of life, there are three basic requirements for happiness. The first is sufficient income to support a satisfactory lifestyle. The second is to love and be loved and the third is to feel that your life is being used in a manner that fulfills needs and goals that you consider desirable.

You should accept the idea that you can make this a happy time of your life and work to make it so. You must strive to create a satisfactory life for yourself in your later years. Society just provides the environment. There will be many who fail to find a level of satisfaction, either due to a lack of knowledge or effort. Failure at this stage can be the final disaster and success, the crowning glory of your life. Success will not only help you but will take the stress off your relationshships with family and friends, enabling them to see you as a valued friend or family member.

To be physically and mentally fit, it is necessary to work both physically and mentally. When the door closes after you for the last time on the day of retirement, your previous lifestyle will be left behind with the job. It will be filed away with the closed records of your past employment. You will have to accept that your life was job-oriented and now the job no longer exists for you. You are now on your own and have to build a life completely different from that which you have been leading.

On that first morning you may observe a strange silence around you. There will be no demands on your time. There is nowhere you must go, no one that you must obey, no job you must do to earn your income. Control of your time has now been handed back to you. This is the biggest change after retirement and it can be frightening.

Remember that retirement inevitably brings two basic changes. First of all, your regular salary stops coming. Its place is taken by a pension which is half or less than half of the salary . Interest from savings and your provident fund might be another sources of income . You may feel uneasy and anxious about whether you and your dependents will be able to live on this reduced income. If the retiree has not planned his family properly, there may be unemployed sons and unmarried daughters. Coping with this situation can be quite a burden, even for one who is getting a full salary and other benefits.

Another basic change after retirement concerns the use of your time. Your job demanded a major part of your time and the best of your strength and energy. You were also busy with your domestic affairs like shopping, paying bills, attending marriages etc. In the balance time, you had to develop limited personal interests. After retirement, you will find yourself with considerable time which you had to devote to your job earlier on . Retirement will simply be an endless series of holidays. When every day becomes a holiday, the appeal is lost.

After a hard day’s work at your office or factory, you returning home with pleasure. Your wife would be waiting with either a cold drink or a steaming cup of tea, and the children would be eager for your company. But what happens if you have nothing to do and no place to go? You hang around the house, trying to do little things to help your wife, asking too many questions and soon she finds you a nuisance instead of a helping hand.

Variety is the spice of life and if that vanishes, life after retirement can become unendingly monotonous . You may now only opt for those changes you will enjoy. Look at retirement as the means of release from the old bonds and an opportunity to build a new life according to your chosen plan. There are no standard rules of how best to use your time. No two people are exactly alike. Some require an almost crazy schedule, even after retirement, while others will be fully satisfied with a rocking chair and a newspaper. So you must prepare a programme that suits your personal requirements.

Before retirement, keep in your mind the following important points and act accordingly:

  • On your financial position depends the ability to live in a manner that will satisfy you and your family.

  • Use your time in a manner that will make your life enjoyable.

  • Be mentally prepared to accept the change from working life to retirement.

  • Your plans should take into account the wishes, interests and welfare of your family and spouse.

Retirement is a personal experience and each person’s experience will be unique. At one end of the spectrum are those who have prepared and are managing along extremely well. At the opposite end are those who were completely unaware of what was coming. They face the danger of confusion, sinking into the oblivion of hopelessness.

Mosst people, however, are between these two extremes. They probably expected life after retirement to be something like a long happy vacation and so the actual experience comes as a shock. They have no goal or purpose, they want something to fill the void, yet know neither what it is, nor where to find it. For those people, retirement is often a time of great apprehension.