The great Roman philosopher Seneca had said, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”.
From all these years of interacting and working with a diverse set of retirees, I can vouch that Seneca’s keen observation is the answer to the conundrum of why many retirees, even some affluent ones, fall short of attaining a contented and meaningful retired life.
During working life, professional engagements act as a sheet anchor; but in retirement, that is gone. A conscious effort towards a purposeful life provides that necessary hinge and locus to design a contented and joyful life.
In retired life, we all aspire to do things we had to skip because of professional commitments, such as spending more time with family, visiting dream destinations, taking long spiritual retreats, creating impact in the world, or pursuing hobbies like gardening and music.
However, many people feel isolated; they lack a purpose and meaning in life, slowly dissipating their energy and enthusiasm.
In our society, the discussions on retirement are dominated by money and the ‘perfect’ retirement corpus. There is no denying that money grants the freedom to have the lifestyle one aspires to and forms the backbone of a wonderful retired life.
However, retirement is a marathon; whether you live in New Delhi or Hawaii, the instinctual cravings of humans for ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ in life hits everyone sooner or later.
Retirement is when you stop exchanging your time for money and all this time is at least one-third of your life. This new phase is long, and to make it magical and one grand event of your life, the time must be utilized thoughtfully through healthy engagements to accomplish aspirations, desires and dreams.
Towards a Meaningful Retirement
Traditionally, you attained retirement at a certain age, generally 60.
The notion is challenged nowadays by the call for early retirement by movements like the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early).
The FIRE proposition states that you earn and save enough to retire at the earliest by aggressively investing in the right assets, after which you get the coveted freedom to live on your terms.
With growing life expectancy, focus on early retirement and better healthcare availability, a long period of life has to be lived post-retirement.
Depending on when you retire, a good 30-40 years may be spent post-retirement, for which you need adequate corpus and a life-focused plan to keep you meaningfully occupied.
Therefore, a prudent and holistic retirement plan that gives equal credit to money management and life planning must be implemented for a fruitful, flourishing, and happy retirement.
I believe that doors to a happy and meaningful life are not unlocked solely by ‘money’, but it is highly dependent upon defining the ‘freedom’ one hopes to achieve in retirement. The meticulous and detailed outline of your ideal life will make retirement gratifying and fulfilling.
Retirement Planning: Adopt a Holistic Approach
People planning their retirement should begin by visualizing the future and creating a master list of dos and don’ts of retirement, which include a list of things they like about retirement and things they dislike.
Next, try to find the ‘purpose’ and ‘vision’ through deep self-introspection or with the help of a retirement coach. An authentic purpose coming from the bottom of your heart will be a force multiplier for a great retired life.
Then, create a bucket list of goals, including everything you want to do and your aspirations, ranging from mountaineering to scuba diving, acquiring new hobbies or skills, starting new ventures or plunging into spirituality or philanthropy.
Once you have the components to construct the best retirement, you slice the ‘vision’ into bite-sized goals, which can be achieved through an optimal schedule with a perfect dose of healthy, fun and meaningful activities.
The last step is assessing the financial position, allocating resources, and employing money to generate the ideal retired life.
Employing such a methodical approach supports the transition to your new ‘retired’ self with minimal friction.
Retirement is not only about getting relieved from professional work, but more than that, it is an entrance to a portal of new possibilities to live the ‘unlived’ life.
Holistic and purposeful retirement should be the fundamental goal, with ‘money’ being the crucial facilitator to meet that end.
The objective of planning should be such that you live the best retirement life possible with the money you have.
Views are personal: The author – Vikas Sharma, CFP is the CEO & Co-founder of Goalchi Capital Services LLP
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