6 Myths Of Retirement

Senior gentleman sitting on a wooden bench and relaxing in a park

Talk to any person in corporates who has been travelling incessantly, living out of a suitcase and highly keyed, chances are that he or she will be looking forward to a time when they are absolutely free of all these (read- retirement).

Many people believe that retirement is a time when you can enjoy the sun and sand, laze around doing whatever you like (read- nothing) and live their lives in a continuous state of bliss or attain Nirvana as it is called in eastern culture.

The facts could be completely opposite. What you believe is paradise can turn into a nightmare very quickly if you are sitting and doing nothing.

Here are some facts about retirement.

1. You Could Put On Weight Quickly

When you are working you are used to a certain level of activity that burns calories. Even the act of thinking, expends calories. When you retire on the other hand, your activity level comes sharply down. At the same time, being at home mostly your access to food is even more. This means you tend to eat more for taste and possibly more than what your age and activity level justifies.

The net result is weight gain, which is sometimes, quite rapid.

A gentleman I know retired about two years ago. His activity level came down sharply. Initially I would see him early in the morning and late in the evening taking his dog for a walk around the colony.

About a year ago his dog died. After that I would see him outside, very rarely. Today he has put on so much weight that he is practically unrecognizable. When you retire, unless you have a strict fitness regimen and you engage in some activities regularly, you could end up putting on weight rapidly and creating a health risk for yourself.

2. Your Money May Not Last Forever

No matter what it is that you have earned, money tends to burn out faster when you are retired and dipping into your savings. This is so for a majority of salaried employees whose main income has been from employment.

The expense level of people, who have very high salaries, also tends to be high and keeps pace with the earnings. Unless you have invested all your life, very wisely and have created productive assets, chances are that your nest egg may run out quicker than you expected.

Not many people put all their investment in productive assets. By productive asset I mean an asset that generates income for you. For instance, if you invest in a million dollar home that you live in, it would be wonderful for your lifestyle but it would not be a productive asset. This is because, there is no way you could monetize it while you are living in it.

Alternatively, if you had invested in two houses of half a million dollars each, the house that you leased out would be your productive asset. Not only would it provide you with a recurring income but also it could provide you a neat profit if you were to sell it at a later date.

3. Your Investment Growth And Income Could Come Down

The investment pattern of people who are in their late twenties and early thirties is very different from those of people who are in their mid to late fifties. This is so as the risk taking ability of people typically comes down with age.

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Younger people are in a position to take higher risks and can hold a major portion of their investment in equities while retired people tend to be more risk averse and likely to invest in secure debt based instruments that provide lower returns. Consequently both the grown of your investment and your income, comes down substantially.

4. Inactivity Is A Poor Substitute For Frenetic Activity

When you are in a high-pressure corporate job, you are forever in a state of frenetic activity with barely time to even think. Your time is not in your own control and you crave some time when you could unwind without a care in the world.

Even when you are resting, there are unfinished tasks weighing down on you and there is really no time when you can truly say that you have nothing to worry about. Added to this is the fact that you are responsible not only for yourself but a whole bunch of people depending on your position and role.  All that can take a toll on you.

But, when you transition from a high-pressure activity based life to a relatively inactive life, you could actually put yourself and your health, at risk. The human body is not designed to be inactive. With age your ability to burn calories also comes down sharply. As a result you are at a greater risk for diseases like diabetes and hypertension, more so if you lead a sedentary life.

5. Watch Out For Your Self Worth

Many a time, people who retire simply let themselves go and do not explore any alternate activity that engages them, if not fully, at least partially. There are so many things that you like to do but don’t find the time for it. If you start doing them one by one, you would find yourself reasonably occupied. Being constructively occupied will also keep your self worth intact as you see yourself as a useful member of your community making a contribution to it.

People who have been in positions of power and authority can sometimes find it hard to come to grip with reality, when they retire.  People who have worked lets say in the government, are used to a lot of power, having people who report to them etc. For such people, retirement can be a state where they are suddenly bereft of all their power. If you are person like this, your self worth itself could take a beating.

6. Be Prepared For A Change In The Attitude Of Other People Towards You

When you are gainfully employed and successful, the way people respond to you and treat you, is very different from the way the same people are likely to respond to you or treat you when you are retired or no longer working. This change is inevitable. But, sometime, if you are not prepared for it, you could find this difficult to accept.

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People change over time, as do relationships. When you transition to your retirement, you should expect this change. Expecting old relationships, particularly work based to continue as before, is being immature. It could set you up for disappointment.

So what can you do to preempt all this and make your retirement a pleasant experience that lasts?

7. Plan For Retirement

Think of the amount that you think you need to live post retirement and multiply that by 4 to 5 times. You could be doing yourself a favor.  When you estimate the fund requirement for your retirement phase, chances are that you have under-estimated your requirement significantly. This can happen because of three reasons- you have not factored in your expenses correctly, particularly unforeseen expenses; you have not factored the effect of inflation on your expenses and; you have underestimated your life expectancy post retirement.

1. Have A Backup Plan To Augment Your Income Should Things Not Go Your Way

Plans have a way of coming unstuck. Besides things like medical emergency cannot really be anticipated. If you run out of funds quickly because you did not plan properly or something unforeseen happened then you would be in a much better position if you had a back up plan.

When I say back up plan, explore how you could monetize some of your assets or skills. You should also try and keep your knowledge and skills current, even if you are not using them regularly.

Develop alternate sources of income using your skills or assets that you could quickly put to use.

2. Engage In Regular Physical Activity

When you are working, you tend to have some regular activity that expends your calories and keeps you in good health even if you are not in great shape. Once you retire if you take on a life of inactivity, you could find your health going downhill, very quickly. This is because your regular activity at work goes out completely and you are making it even worse by being inactive. So, make it a point to incorporate some regular physical activity into your routine.

It could be something as simple as a daily walk for an hour or so.

3. Challenge Your Mind Daily

Regular work has its own benefits. It keeps your mind challenged as you grapple with different sets of problems. Challenges keep your brain active and healthy. When you stop working or retire, sometime that challenge could be missing from your life. If you don’t substitute some brainwork on a daily basis you could see a fall in your mental faculties and your ability to solve problems.

Try and learn something new. Perhaps you like painting or something creative. Now would be a good time to try it and hone your skills at it. Do regular reading. Try and read a varied set of books on a range of subjects. Solve crossword puzzles. This is a great way of sharpening your mind.

4. Have Something To Look Forward To At All Times

One thing that can infuse interest into your life is having something to look forward to at any point in time. When you are working it could be that promotion, raise or a new car or something related to your work. When you retire, you have to consciously work at having something to look forward to. Perhaps you could plan that trip that you always wanted to take.


You could plan to attend a concert in another town, something you didn’t get a chance to do when you were working, or it could be something as simple as learning Yoga.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be something big. As long as it is of interest to you, it is fine.

Looking forward to something creates a sense of anticipation and expectation of gratification that can infuse some excitement into your life. Having nothing to look forward to can be quite damaging to both your body and spirit.

That’s why people who are serving long sentences in prison are seldom in a happy state. They have practically nothing to look forward to.

5. Have Control Over Your Time

Having control over your time can greatly increase your feeling of self worth. People who have not control over their time tend to be at the mercy of other people or circumstances, which can be quite stressful.

When you retire you have a lot more time at your disposal but if you allow other people to dictate what you do with your time, you could end up very unhappy. So plan what you want to do in your day. It does not have to be a precise plan but just the thought of knowing what you want to accomplish that day, can make the day not only more productive for you, it can also reinforce your sense of self worth.

6. Continue to Expand Your Social Circle

When you are working you come in contact with a lot of people and tend to have a vibrant circle of colleagues and friends that you can share your life with. Once you retire, your chance to connect to people you don’t really know, comes down sharply. As a result you may begin to interact with a lesser and lesser number of people on a daily basis. This can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing.

Man is a social animal. When you isolate yourself, you could bring on a completely different set of problems that could spoil the quality of your life and put you at a greater risk for health problems.

Expanding your social circle, being active on facebook and LinkedIn can have a very positive effect on your life after retirement.

All said and done the best thing is to never retire but to simply find something to do that you really enjoy doing!

Srinivasan R




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