Friday, December 25, 2009

How to retire??

Recently, the topic of "retirement" came up in several of my chats - with colleagues, ex-colleagues as well as with friends. It may sound a little early for us to be thinking of retirement - we are all in our thirties, by the way - but in today's context, if one doesnt actively think (and plan!) for retirement, most likely one never would retire!

Seriously, "retirement" has long been viewed as a kind of reward - for slogging the majority of our productive years of life working in jobs which we dont even enjoy doing. Com'on, how many people can honestly say they ENJOY working? I'd wager that many people would (at the most) be satisfied or find their jobs fulfilling, to a certain extent. Like for instance, some people feel a great sense of achievement when they've accomplished something at work - e.g. completion of a project, or promotion, etc. For some people, this is how they guage their self-worth, and does fulfil certain emotional needs, I guess.

But to work because you ENJOY working? Hardly.

I guess the real test for that would be for you to ask yourself: Would you still be happily working at the same job, IF you do not receive a salary/pay for working there? If the answer to that question is "Yes", congratulations, you are living what an ideal retirement lifestyle would be like, in my opinion.

You see, "retirement" doesn't mean doing nothing and staying home staring blankly at the ceiling or walls. No, that is more akin to "waiting to die", I think. Retirement to me means engaging in activities which one enjoys doing, without having to care/worry about maintaining the standard of living that one is used to. Simply put, it means being able to do what you like to do on a regular basis, without thinking about the financial aspects of the activity(s).

The activities one engages in retirement could be simple ones, ranging from gardening, cooking, walking/jogging/swimming, chatting with friends, etc. Or in some cases, it could be expensive ones, like travelling, shopping for luxury goods, fine-dining, etc. Whichever the case, it has to be something that the person ENJOYS doing.

And that is where many people (including myself, I have to admit) get stumped... as clearly, there are 2 aspects to a successful (hence great) retirement: First, you must be able to IDENTIFY an activity (or activities) which you really enjoy doing, since this retirement period can be rather prolonged (we are not talking about just a couple of years. With medical advancements these days, we could be talking decades...). Second, you must be FINANCIALLY able to maintain that lifestyle without worrying about running out of funds before we move on from this world to the next.

I'm not sure which aspect is the tougher one to fulfil, but both are equally important. In truth, for many people I guess the 2 aspects are inter-dependant and closely co-related, since clearly, if one does not have the financial independence to "break free" of the working (and salary) necessity, the kinds of activities one can engage in is also limited to what the society at large deems "productive" (and hence deserving of a financial reward - ie. salary).

Take for example - I enjoy playing the guitar. So when I retire, I am sure the guitar will be part of my retirement activity. That does not mean I love having to conduct guitar classes and teach guitar in schools/music establishments (although there are times when I find it enjoyable lah!). If money is not an issue, I would love to meet up with my regular guitar kakis to jam new songs and play in a guitar ensemble, performing free gigs at public performances, and if possible travel out of Singapore to visit other guitar estalishments and possibly take part in guitar competitions. However, if I need the money to sustain my retirement, I may need to compromise my retirement activities, such that I end up teaching guitar classes and conducting workshops, etc. since these are what the society deem as "productive activities" and I would be paid for participating in them.
To some people, they may say," wow, you're so lucky! You like the guitar, and you can retire playing the guitar!" Little would they know that I'd actually compromised my retirement plans - ie. the financial aspect/considerations has limited my choices for the activities I would've done otherwise.
In other words, it is not really "retirement". Not a successful one, in any case.

I guess that's why Wolf kept harping on the need to generate a "passive income", something that can take care of the financial aspect of retirement. If only it were that easy! Still, I have to keep that in mind and work towards it....

And as for the activity aspect of retirement.....what else besides my guitar.....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah.. how to retire??

when that stupid *** controls everything and costs keeps on increasing...

btw, who is "wolf"? is it the same person as i thought? keke


6:32 PM  

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