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Ashutosh Garg

The author is an Executive Coach and an Angel Investor. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books, The Brand Called You; Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.

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Non-Financial Issues Faced in Retirement

Here are some of the many situations that most retirees confront once they have understood and accepted their new phase of life and accepted the inevitability of retirement.

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Most of us would have anguished over the issue of whether we have sufficient money and our financial situation is secure before we retire. Hopefully we would have sorted out our financial needs and our funds available, as we enter our period of retirement. At the same time, we should also have made an adequate provision for the continued good health of our spouse. 

What most retirees do not recognize are the many non-financial issues each one of us will have to confront, internalise and handle as we start our retired life. Most of us should have planned our money but not our time post retirement even when we are a few months away from the most significant change we will make in our lives. Imagine your daily schedule post retirement and plan for it.

Here are some of the many situations that most retirees confront once they have understood and accepted their new phase of life and accepted the inevitability of retirement. These challenges are not easy but if we plan in advance these become easier to accept.

Loss of Identity

Most people allow their identities to be determined by the company they work for. People are CEO’s, Directors, General Managers or Managers first before they are individuals and human beings. This is because most of us believe that the more successful we are at our work place, the stronger our identity will become. Your power, your authority, your influence, your annual bonus, your wealth, your status is society are all believed to identity creators.

Yet, nothing is further away from reality for your identity once you retire and move into the third phase of your life. I have asked several people to name the former Chairman of a large company after the person has retired and most people don’t remember the name. What happens to those individuals who did not make it to the Corner Office? Will they get lost once they retire? 

Retirees are confronted with the question “Who am I” and “How relevant am I” on retirement. I have heard older retirees say “No one needs me anymore”. Loss of one’s identity becomes a major challenge for most retirees.

It is important for most people to build an identity which is beyond your work place. Are you an author or a writer or a sportsman or a golfer or bridge player or a musician or an actor or anything that identifies you with a hobby?

No Calendar, No Clock 

Most of us have run our lives based on our daily calendar, driven by super-efficient secretaries / assistants. Mornings blend into lunches into meetings into coffees into cocktails and into dinner. You are constantly juggling appointments and running fast to stay ahead of your schedules. Whenever asked, the standard response is “I can’t seem to find the time”. The big challenge we will all face is how to structure our days when our daily office routine has suddenly stopped and our life is no longer being run by our schedule. 

It is inevitable that people will decide that since you are retired, you have extra time, and extra resources.  It goes back to the old adage that your life will have an agenda. If it is not yours, then follow someone else’s agenda.  Set your own agenda and do so before you are asked. When you no longer have a schedule to follow, you can either make a new schedule to fill your day or keep living in the past and resenting the day you retired?

What day of the week is it today?

The most common comment I have heard from retirees is “what day of the week is it today?” Others say “What will get me out of bed in the morning full of purpose and passion?” 

These statement are partly in jest and partly in all seriousness. With no clear schedule to adhere to, retirees start to slip into a phase of “timelessness.” This is an unhealthy state of mind to be in and the faster we are able to establish a routine and give a pattern / schedule to our lives, the better we will be able to handle our retired years. The faster we are ready to give up our old work life, the faster will new possibilities open up for us?

Upheaval in Partner / Spouse relationship 

As we reach the age of retirement after having worked 40 to 60 hour per week and travelling extensively, both partners would have developed a sense of independence and most of us would have created our own private space in our mutual worlds.  Over a period of time our relationship with our spouse would have evolved to one of companionship and acceptance. 

The challenge will be the ability of both partners to adjust with one another, now that the private space we had created for ourselves will blend with one another and we will have to spend most of our time together. Adjustment with one another will take time and will need a lot of investment from both sides.

Lost Companionship with Work Colleagues 

Most people who have worked long years at one organisation, particularly those in the employment of the Government or public sector have never really planned to make a circle of friends outside the work place. Lunches, dinners and most social evenings are with work colleagues. The day they hang up their gloves, they suddenly realise that they have lost most of their friends. For those who remain, for a few months they can continue to gossip about the people in their company but this too fades into oblivion.

Yet there are others who have consciously invested in making a large circle of friends outside the work place. Such individuals are much better placed to handle the challenges on companionship once they retire.

Mixed Emotions 

With colleagues and work friends, most of us have been able to manage the turmoil of joy, fear, sadness, relief, surprise, anger and anxiety through sharing and exchanging notes, happy that each one of us experiences a vast range of emotions through our lives and it is only by sharing these are we able to handle them well? Once we retire, we lose this safety net and the challenge becomes greater, unless we have taken steps to create a support network outside our work place.

All these are challenges that are easily addressed if we are willing to first accept this new reality and then agree to work on these issues along our spouse.