For many people I know, retirement is a challenge. Most of them have been asked to retire at 58 or 60 years of age. They did not retire because they had something to do. Tough choice, indeed. A typical ‘push retirement’ and not ‘pull retirement’. One of the persons I know was perched at home watching TV for about four hours a day; he died at the age of 68. I guess the boredom got him!
Women handle retirement from a job much better. They were earlier handling the house and the office. The housework still stays and they take up cooking, socialising or some hobby with great gusto. Men (most Indian men) don’t always handle retirement so well.
What are the things that you can do to make retirement better? (Please read this when you are in your 30s or 40s):
1) Have a hobby: When you are in your 40s or at least in your 50s, having a hobby like photography, painting, travel and playing indoor or outdoor games could be something that you really care about.
2) Create a same-age group: Typically your classmates from school or college. They all would be your age and would be going through the same thoughts, pains, troubles or fun. This could be your “go to” group for travel, parties, picnics, music sessions, whatever you fancy. You could slowly induct people of different ages too into the group, but forget not the core reason why the group was formed in the first place. The group members could busy themselves in travelling, attending weddings or other social functions, et al.
3) Create a same hobby group: Whatever is your hobby — running, cycling, mountaineering, hiking— you can create or join a group that suits your taste. Here you will find people of different age categories, and that can be lovely. I am part of a running group with 4k members. This means I still get invited to marriages of ‘friends’ (not just friend’s kids) as my friends get invited. This is also a great opportunity to be a senior counsellor for marriage, career, etc. These kids are far more comfortable seeking your advice than a pro! Another advantage is that they do not see you as a ‘competitor’, which means communication becomes easy.
4) Be active: Retirement should not mean sitting in one place and watching television. Move about, join a gym, take up at least one activity that keeps you busy for an hour a day. I recently saw a 72-year-old who plays one hour of table tennis a day and also does one hour of gym. Surely it keeps him fitter than his younger brothers who are far more sedentary. I know an 84-year-old who travels by public transport; it shows he is confident in his ability to climb stairs, take a train, buy a ticket. I have met an 86-year-old who shops for veggies, groceries; this means that his maths, reaction time, etc, are being used on a daily basis. Dementia be damned!
5) Give back to society: Teaching is one of the best things that you can do. I know one scientist who spends four hours a day in the temple (sitting cross-legged) teaching Veda recitations to children (and adults) who come regularly. You can teach swimming, maths, science, English language, Hindi, whatever. Skype is easy to learn and technology helps you reach every corner of the world. For instance, do a Skype session with kids in an orphanage. If they don’t have the equipment, I am sure you could organise it for them.
6) Try maintaining a routine, it helps: Of course, you can break it once in a while, but it helps to know that at 7 am you are going for a spinning session and for a swim at 5 pm. Whatever is your routine - games, temple, walk, run, jog, cycling, badminton - does not matter but build it. Cutting vegetables is another useful activity; keeps eye-hand coordination intact for a longer period. Try brushing your teeth using your left hand.
7) Try writing a diary/blog: You may just discover that you can write! Look after your health and wealth with equal zeal.
PV Subramanyam writes at www.subramoney.com and has authored the best seller ‘Retire Rich - Invest Rs 40 a day’