Life After 50
Once a man enters his 50’s, he starts thinking about the lurking retirement. However retirement is one word which generally sends shivers down the spine of all corporate executives and businessmen alike. The basic underlying question is what would I do once I retire?
The corporate executives have no choice but to retire when they are 60. There would be exceptions to this but generally the retirement age is around 58-60. People talk about pursuing hobbies like reading, music etc post retirement. But even while saying this they know that this can’t be their full time agenda. You can’t keep reading books or listening to music 12 hours a day. Then there are people who say that they want to travel the world. The question is how many days a year? May be maximum one month but then what about rest 11 months? This is the question that keeps coming up and makes them very uncomfortable.
We see many businessmen refusing to hang-up their boots even when they are well past their prime. They always say that they want to keep working till their last breath. But the next generation is not happy with this decision as they never get the free hand in running the show. The old man keeps dabbling in the affairs all the time. He doesn’t want his control to dilute. But in my opinion the main reason for this is old man doesn’t know what he would do if he retires. Hence he keeps it going till the cows come. In the final analysis, this is not good for the man, his future generation and last but not the least the business itself.
Then there are many executives who are in their 50’s today and have earned enough monies to sustain themselves very comfortably for the balance years of their life and still pass on wealth to next generation. They keep cribbing about the stress at work place and always talk about wanting to retire. But try and tell even one person to retire, he would just shun away. This is because he knows if he doesn’t figure out what to do then life will become hell.
The million dollar question is how does one figure out what to do post retirement?
Here I would like to share my own personal experience. Our business kept getting shifted to Nashik from 2005 and finally around 2010, there was no activity left in Mumbai. I had an option of shifting to Nashik but our business was not that big where 2 power centres were required. My brother was in Nashik from late 1990’s and was capable to run the show. Now I had to take a decision what to do when I was just 50. I felt it was not worthwhile to start some new business and take the pressures and stress and hence I decided to retire. I established a NGO, Neeraja, working in the field of Rainwater Harvesting. Initial first 5-6 years were exciting as something new was happening. But the basic difference between a corporate life and social activity is the pace at which it moves. It takes ages to make the wheel turn when you are engaging in social field and it can become very frustrating.
Last 2 years or so, I was feeling restless as even that activity was going on relatively smooth and nothing to really look forward to. Suddenly a feeling started creeping in that my life has become worthless and nobody really needs me. Nobody ever said anything specific but the thought that I may not be needed by anyone unnerved me. This was completely out of blue and I wasn’t prepared to face it. I had to take some professional help and also spoke to my close friends and family members. What emerged out of all this was my mind is not getting enough stimulus. Two people who really helped me in all this melee were Chinmay and Vasant. I can’t thank them enough. It was on their insistence and encouragement that I started writing. My life has undergone a sea change in last 8-9 months. Currently I am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing and looking forward to each new day with excitement.
My above experience helped me to realise what people must be fearing in their post retirement life. Here I would like to share something from a book, Ikigai, which I recently read. Ikigai is the word for a Japanese Concept meaning “A Reason for Being”. It talks about 4 intersecting circles, namely
1. What you LOVE
2. What you are GOOD AT
3. What you can be PAID FOR
4. What the world NEEDS
The whole concept is to find the Golden Mean (सुवर्णमध्य) of these 4 circles to find your Ikigai.
The people I am talking about are not really bothered about the third circle (being paid for) and hence it is for them to find the Golden Mean of balance 3 circles.
However it is also very important to figure out how much money is enough? It depends on individual lifestyle, requirements. And one must also keep in mind that the life expectancy going up and up.
1. I love at what I do and I am good at it but world doesn’t Need it – Can mean Satisfaction – like a hobby but there will be a feeling of Uselessness. The thought that I am not contributing to the society may creep in today or tomorrow
2. I am Good at it, world Needs it but I don’t Love it – Can mean being Comfortable – but the feeling of Emptiness will make the life miserable (I think this is what I must have gone through)
3. I Love what I do, I am Good at it and world Needs it. Voila. That is my Ikigai. Will lead to Delight and Fullness but of course no generation of money. However the basic premise on which this particular topic is being deliberated, is money being already there.
Of course, this is an ongoing process. A reason for being will keep changing.
But if people are open to changes and keep exploring this continuously, it may not be impossible to figure that out. This will also drive away the basic fear of dreaded retirement.