Planning To Retire?
Like a grand plan.
In my roaring 20s, I was a dreamer. I was going to retire at the tender age of 40.
Life had other tricks, and that plan didn’t quite pan out as I envisioned.
Picture this: I was inching closer to my early retirement goal when life decided to toss a housing loan into the mix. To keep things interesting, my daughter, Sara, came into the world when I was 38 and a half. As any new parent can attest, your world gets turned upside down, and retirement suddenly seems like a distant mirage.
A Profound Change of Perception
But I could never have foreseen what truly altered my perception of retirement. I saw it with my father; my story can help you decide.
My father, Padma Lochan Garabadu, was a man of action, a testament to unwavering routines and discipline.
He would rise with the sun daily, embark on a brisk morning walk, and then meticulously follow his bath, prayer, and breakfast routine. By half-past seven, he would leave home for his factory, where he supervised design and fabrication with the precision of a hawk. A sole proprietor of his business, he maintained high physical and mental activity levels until he returned home around seven.
He would drive in the narrowest bylanes in Cuttack, known for its chaotic traffic – an activity that demanded immense mental focus and physical stamina – to pick and choose his fruits, vegetables, fish, or sweets. Even the mere thought of treading that path would seem taxing for many. But not Daddy. He seemed tireless and would venture where others did not tread.
Interestingly, most of his closest friends were government servants, with only one venturing into the private sector. When they reached retirement age as stipulated in their workplace, my father decided to sell his factory, which stemmed from my disinclination to pursue his line of work and his reluctance to grease the palms of government officials to secure raw materials – a common practice during the days when the State controlled its supply.
The Slow Decline
Initially, we applauded his choice, believing he had earned the right to take it easy. So, he did just that – stayed home, read the newspapers, tended to his garden, and indulged in some television.
However, the abrupt change from a high-octane work life to a sedate retirement lifestyle began to take its toll on his body and mind. Gradually, both became slow.
As his friends either took up post-retirement positions or ventured into consulting, they remained active. It became clear that staying engaged was vital to keeping both body and mind vibrant. Seeing a super-active man slip into a state of slow degeneration was painful. He was amongst the most agile individuals I knew. It was too late to undo what had been done.
My father’s transition served as a profound lesson: while retiring from official work is okay, it’s crucial to remain engaged in passions and interests that invigorate your mind and body.
Embracing Ikigai: The Key to Fulfilling Retirement
So, if you find yourself on the brink of retirement or planning to retire early, take a moment to seek out your ikigai – that unique blend of passion, mission, and vocation that drives you. Embrace it wholeheartedly, and let it guide you into this new chapter of life.
And for those of you who are already fortunate enough to be doing what you love, count your blessings. Cherish the fact that you’re living your dream every day.
Retirement isn’t just about escaping the daily grind; it’s about finding new avenues that keep the flames of passion burning.
Returning to where I started: my retirement plans?
Well, that’s the subject of another story.
Watch this space.