Retirement is a big word whichever way you look at it. Almost all of us know in the back of our minds that someday, it will creep up upon us; somewhere beyond the yonder, there is the day when we say good bye to what we have known as a career and then head off into retirement. But the question remains – how many of us are really ready for retirement? Have we accepted it as the final destination everyone cannot wait to go to?
In today’s technologically dominating work place, it is not uncommon to see entrepreneurs and business owners retire early. For some, retirement may mean switching careers from doing something they felt they had to do to something they actually love doing. For most, philanthropy comes close in this regard. Yet, for others, retirement can be a place of comfort and rest away from the hustle and the bustle, where pressure to perform gives way to quietness and relaxation.
Yet, if you were honest enough to ask yourself if you really would enjoy retirement, some may be surprised to find that the answer would be a no. If you are too wrapped in your career, if your personality is actually an extension of your work (for some, it is) then maybe you are not emotionally ready for retirement. If you still enjoy work and find fulfilment in coming to work every day, then maybe retirement is not the best option – yet.
Retirement has little to do with age, although the accepted norm can be that by a certain age, you must retire. Some may not be as mentally as old as they are chronologically. In contrast, some may be older than they actually are in terms of their outlook on life. People differ temperamentally as they do in their beliefs and thoughts. What maybe a peaceful retirement to one may not be that to another who sees himself or herself as possessing good many years of work and efficiency.
As difficult as it may sound, a few are ready for retirement financially. Some tend to marry late or go in for financial obligations late in life that they do not always find that all debts and mortgages are settled as retirement beckons. Yet, for others, commitments remain serious enough to warrant continuous work long beyond retirement years. Financial planning is key for sound retirement – an issue that must ideally be dealt with emotionally and in practical terms, long before retirement actually comes.
Some wonder if retirement will affect their personal lives – their partners may still be working and the children maybe still studying and will have established routines and systems that maybe affected by the one going on retirement. Until and unless both spouses face retirement together, it can be a tough one to deal with. Retirement can bring its own set of problems that may not be welcome on the whole by the family.
Yet, for others, it is a phase of life that can be comfortable, one they can look forward to. These are often people who have got themselves mentally and emotionally ready to travel down the road. They yearn for peace and quiet in their hectic lives and for space they can call their own – yet for the same people, when it does come, retirement can be a time of loneliness and unfulfilment.
So where do we draw the line when it comes to this phase of life that everyone must face? For some, retirement will never be an option and writers like me fall into this category. We will always be writers – my father was one until his death. There are others – lawyers like my husband who prefer to work until they can. There are others too – who find such satisfaction in their work that for them where work begins and life ends cannot be measured. They will continue to give their chosen careers their best and retirement has never been an option they would like to consider.
There is also a school of thought that believes in continuing to work so that one’s mental faculties can stay alert and working until the very end. They believe that retirement can rob one of sharpening one’s mental focus. This may not be true but it is widely believed that the more ready you are emotionally to deal with ceasing of work the less you are likely to be affected by it negatively.
Maybe all these options can actually work in different ways for different individuals. Be it a change of career as a retirement option, maybe to continue what you are doing perhaps on a lesser scale or choosing to watch life pass by seated in your comfortable arm chair – they are all options. Just different strokes for different folk!
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya