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Retirement Planning: Start With A Calendar, Not Calculator

Filling up the calendar with a mix of physical, mental, and social activities that is a good balance of work time, play time, 'me' time, and family time would be a life-saving idea.

June 17, 2024
June 17, 2024
Retirement planning

Retirement planning

Have you ever realised that you, me, Mr. Ambani, Mr. Modi, and every other person around has the same amount to live out of every week?

Yes! The same amount – of time.

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168 hours a week.

For most professionals living and working in bustling metros, a big part of the 168 hours goes in work related activities. Almost 60 – 70 hours including travel and preparations.

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Boredom is not on anyone’s bucket list!

Sharma was a senior executive with a large bank in Mumbai. He has worked up the ladder and in the last 35 years he hasn’t had much time to relax. His days were packed with meetings, travel, and deadlines.

When he retired, he felt an initial euphoria at having time at his disposal to do anything he wanted. He thought he would wake up late, go for walk, have a relaxed breakfast, read newspapers, watch TV and all would be fine. In less than a week he realised that everything that had to be done in the day was all done by 10 am. He was staring at long, boring afternoons and evenings.

The structured schedules that once dictated his days had disappeared. And slowly he found himself sleeping more. The afternoon siestas became longer. He started spending the evenings binge-watching mindless TV series and staying up at night tossing and turning.

This lack of engagement led to boredom. Boredom spiralled into pessimism and anxiety.

No amount of walking, workout, reading and socialising will ever fill up 60-70 hours every week. There is just a lot of time to kill, sorry fill.

ALSO READ: Mental Health In Retirement: A Journey From Corporate Buzz To The Quiet Of Retirement

Financial Planning Is Not Retirement Planning

So here is the problem.

Conversations about retirement planning are all about investments, pension funds & annuity plans. Why? Time to call out the very narrow definition that we have perpetuated for retirement planning all along.

Retirement is a life stage change. When life stages change – priorities change. When priorities change how you spend time changes. When how you spend time changes – how you spend your money changes.

The right place to start retirement planning is with a calendar, not a calculator.

Don’t just fill your calendar, fill your heart

Raghavan, a Chennai-based engineer started learning Sanskrit, a language he always wanted to learn even before he retired. He found a teacher and enrolled in online classes. He found the language to be very logical and scientific. It challenged him, satisfied his need for a creative outlet, helped him meet new people and he took to it like fish to water. He went on to study the Vedas and Upanishads that were beyond his understanding earlier. Now with knowledge of the language they are written in he began appreciating them much better. He went on to write advance levels of examinations qualifying to even teach others. He really has a very busy calendar.

But not everyone stumbles upon what they are passionate about right away.

That takes time and effort to find out.

Here are 6 questions to ponder over as a starting point:

  1. What activities make you lose track of time?
  2. What skills or knowledge do you want to acquire?
  3. What causes are close to your heart and move you emotionally?
  4. What social activities do you enjoy?
  5. What physical activities do you find enjoyable?
  6. What would you regret not having done, on your death bed?

ALSO READ: 3 Financial Habits You Must Avoid After Retirement

Revisit Social Connections:

Loneliness is a significant contributor to anxiety in older adults. Especially after decades of moving around in social circles which were primarily job-related, these circles often dwindle making retirees susceptible to loneliness and depression.

Vasant, a client of ours makes it a point to meet one friend from school, one from college, and one colleague or mentor from the workplace every week. He has a calendar for the next six months to ensure these meetings happen, sometimes even traveling to do them. Additionally, he organizes alumni get-togethers and neighbourhood get-togethers and revels in all the rigour and recognition this gives.

Staying socially active helps retirees feel more connected and less anxious, significantly improving their overall well-being.

The Life-Saving Idea

Busy working professionals want to retire. Retired people want to be back at work. What really do we want?

What we want is balance. Moving from too much work to too much leisure is what throws things out of control. A daily routine, a structured plan for the day/week can provide a sense of normalcy and control.

Filling up that calendar with a mix of physical, mental, and social activities that is a good balance of work time, play time, me time, family time would be a life-saving idea.

ALSO READ: Budget 2024: What Govt Can Do For Ease Of Senior Living—4 Things To Know

Final Thoughts

“Show me your calendar and your bank statement, and I’ll show you what you really value,” said Peter Drucker, an illustrated American management consultant, educator, and author.

There are no rehearsals in life. Just the final act. And just this one time.

Let your values dictate your calendar. Let your calendar dictate your bank statement. Let’s start with what matters most when it comes to retirement planning. Be that blessing that you could be.

 

The author is a certified financial planner and co-founder and head of financial planning at House of Alpha Investment Advisers Pvt. Ltd. 

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