The Best Years of Your Life Are Earned


About the author:

Adnan lives in Delhi after retiring from a corporate career spanning four decades, with three companies across three countries. He is married with two children, both actively engaged in building their careers.

While Adnan is a Chemical Engineer by training he has interests in music, history, travel and sport. He has enjoyed living in different cities and towns and began his career in India with ICI at their explosives factory in a village in Jharkhand. From there he moved 13 times before dropping anchor in Delhi, where he lives with his wife.

Adnan is now enjoying his retirement with time well spent on family and self. He keeps busy with his engagement with Social Sector companies, university students and Boards of chemical companies.

As you cross into the “retirement” community, most of us are filled with anxiety and fear of the unknown. Used to a life of  9 to 5 rigour, interspersed with business travel and corporate deadlines, the future looks bleak with a calendar filled with empty spaces.

The reality for me was no different for the first twelve months or so but then transformed into something completely different.

Post retirement you are once again a master of your own destiny. You don’t need permission from anyone to take time out to do what you enjoy. Every day is your day. Work-life balance is experienced in reality as you go about building a life that you have earned through decades of relentless hard work, building a case for ache din as you define them.

There are some important assumptions that have to be made to make this work for you.

  1. You have provided for and given ample education for your offspring and set them off to build a life of their own.
  2. You have achieved financial security through savings, investments, provident funds or any other means.
  3. You have a roof over your head that is of your liking where you can spend the rest of your life (rented or owned).
  4. You have been reasonably responsible in taking care of your health so that you can focus on other things. Ensure that you have a good health insurance policy.

With these prerequisites in place, you are all set to enjoy life like never before. The “best days of our lives” lie ahead.

To start with, I now have time to enjoy all the passions I have that were relegated to lower priorities as work took precedence. For me, this included the following,

  1. Family and Friends – I spent a full month with my daughter in the US, something I never dreamed of before. I never had leave for more than two weeks. In four decades. And now I decide when to go and how long to spend.
  2. Music – I spend a considerable amount of time listening to music, uninterrupted with meetings or calls. I’ve even made a small investment in a commercial venture that promotes local musicians in the city.
  3. Reading- As an avid reader, I go through two to three books a month. All the books collected over the years but never opened are gradually showing dog ears and worn-out pages.
  4. Travel – I have travelled to several spots around the country that I could never find the time for. My passion for history can be fuelled by visits to amazing Indian locations that I could never find the time for.

After almost four decades in the corporate world, I have had the privilege of gaining experience and skills in a variety of different fields and feel that it should be my duty to share this with people and organisations who may gain from it. As a result, I took it upon myself to take on the following,

  1. As Adjunct Professor in a premium technical institute I hold seminars with third and fourth year under graduate students as well as graduate students, to help them better understand the opportunities and factors for success in the Chemical Industry. Having spent decades in this industry, I do have something to share. And I am thoroughly enjoying the interaction with the bright young students who will lead this country into a bright future.
  2. After joining ILSS (Indian Leaders for the Social Sector) and SVP (Social Venture Partners) I have learnt a tremendous amount about the social sector and am Lead Partner with four NGOs and Social impact groups. I have learnt a tremendous amount from NGOs and enjoy the role of advisor, although it is quite challenging as the differences between the corporate world and the eco system of the Social Sector is vastly different. Again, here I am really enjoying the interaction with NGOs and like-minded ex-corporates like myself from SVP.
  3. To stay connected with the industry that I am passionate about, I have accepted two Independent Director positions in listed companies. One is an MNC while the other is a large and successful Indian company. This keeps me abreast of what is happening in the industry and gives me an opportunity to share my managerial and techno-commercial experience with a group of professionals that I enjoy working with.
  4. Finally, I am actively supporting, and invested in, an innovative Tech startup that is geared towards the Chemical Industry in India. This is the most challenging and time-consuming of all the activities that I have taken on post-retirement.

None of this was planned. It just came to me as I started putting my life together post-retirement.

My advice to those contemplating retirement would be to get ready to enjoy the best years of your life. Don’t be anxious to start working the very next day post-retirement. Take time to travel, meet friends and relatives, and start to immerse yourself in the social sector, if that is what you want. Also, look for opportunities to share your experience with people who may benefit from it. Don’t look for profit and hefty remuneration and you will be fine.

And lastly, do remember that you have earned these best years of your life. Not since you started school have you had the liberty of waking up at leisure and planning your day as you like. Enjoy it.

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