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Retirement: An Elusive Illusion?

WisGen, a moniker we use for our community members, are brimming with knowledge learned through decades of hard work. Lessons, messages, thoughts, ideas, and anecdotes are waiting to be shared. We aim to create a platform for WisGen to speak their mind and share their thoughts with the world and let their words do the talking.

This is WisGen Speak. Written pieces by WisGen on topics WisGen find relevant.

About the Author :

Vipin Gupta was recently placed as Board Member (Updeshak Program) at Dhwani Foundation and in the Grand Manager Programme at Mu Sigma through WisdomCircle. During his expansive career, he has worked as an Advisor – Subsurface at Manan Oilfield Services Pvt. Ltd., as a Reservoir Manager at ONGC, held various positions ranging from Senior Reservoir Engineer to Head Surveillance & Reservoir Management at Petronas, and worked at the Petroleum Development Oman. Vipin firmly believes that people are the sum total of their choices in life and that, to a large extent, the choices we make today are directed by our past actions. He says, “I would like to think that my Ikigai is a perpetual quest to find a better version of myself.”

Imagine a world where you do not have to drag yourself out of bed to go to work and can choose to snuggle some more, enjoy tea in bed, or snap up your trainers for a zip in the park and stop at the neighbourhood eatery for a leisurely breakfast – not just for a day but for weeks, months, and years. These are motivation factors for many throughout their working lives as they toil away at their desks, shop floors, factories, marketplaces, or such. However, this idyllic vision of retirement at the end of a working life, usually when one is sixty years or older, remains an illusion for most.

That it should be so is a sad commentary on how unprepared most people are for an event that they have planned for and known about for all their adult lives. Most try to go back to work as soon as they are free from it; many just can’t figure out what to do with time on their hands, while others just get sucked into household chores and domesticity. Gone are the ideas of travelling to places yet unexplored, reading books, watching movies and shows, meeting and catching up with friends and family, and partaking in activities for which there was no time till now.

So, what happened? What changed? “It is too early to retire, man. I still feel young and want to stretch it for the next two to three years. Five max.” is a common response from those who got back into the workforce as soon as they got out. Others cite a lack of interests and hobbies, awkwardness in social circles, a lack of inclination, and a lot of paralyses by analysis to decide what is most suitable for their age and background as an activity. Then, there are those who are not able to make peace with the non-appearance of their monthly cheque and do not understand whether they can afford their dreams. The whole retirement prize seems to be both elusive and an illusion.

Well, all those who enjoy good health and vigour in their sixties should realise that unlike the transitions from forties to fifties and so on, the physiological changes in the body post-sixties are rapid and naturally irreversible. This is their time to do all that they dreamed of while enjoying good health. Sixty-five may feel very different from seventy, and seventy-five much more so. Postponing is therefore not an option anymore. Being engaged is good, but not at the cost of dreams. Developing hobbies and interests at this age may be difficult, but not impossible. Go ahead, indulge yourself, and give it a try as much as you can. With luck, you will find something that you really like doing.

For those who are endlessly brainstorming to find the most suitable pursuit, please give way to doing something for a change. At the end of the day, the worst that can happen is that it may turn out to be the wrong choice! So what? At least you tried. For the last category, those who cannot make peace with not having a monthly salary, the best option would be to get some professional help in getting an assessment of the situation and charting out the solutions that suit them best.

It seems to me that people do not understand the value of the prize that they have in their hands. The elusive and illusionary nature of retirement is a result of how we treat this gift of life.

These years are a prize that we have earned and are meant to be enjoyed to the fullest, not squandered away trying to add more zeroes to our bank balance. It should be noted here that although 75-80 years of age is normal, the active years for most do not extend beyond 70. So, take note and make the most of the time you have.

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