The Golden Age: Life After Retirement

by Mr. Ishwar Parmar | Chapter 9, Act 1

Life is a blessing. We should be grateful for the gift of life. There have been many who may not have lived to see a certain age. Therefore, it is always good to be appreciative of the people in our lives. Enjoy the big and small moments and live life to the fullest. Maintaining a positive attitude is also very important. It helps you stay balanced and focused. Enjoy the blessing called ‘life’ without taking it for granted. In fact, make everyday count. Once you reach the golden age of retirement, you will enjoy the extra time to relax. Retirement isn’t supposed to be a depressing time. It will help you reflect on your life and allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Age is just a number. As long as you have the energy and drive to make a difference in the world – go ahead and live life. When you hit the 60s club, you do not have to prepare for a life of confinement. You can still take holidays and remain active. Why would you want to have a fatalistic attitude? If we are mentally alert and have a never-say-die attitude, we can achieve so much even after retirement.

When you decide to hang up your boots after a fulfilling professional career, you get time to spend on your own. Your children are married and settled. You do not have many responsibilities. This is ‘your’ time! It is time to think about yourself and live in the moment. The days of planning a future are gone. Are you surprised at how fast the years went by? Taking care of your parents or children may have taken up all your time. Not anymore. It is time to indulge in some pampering. Now, it is time for you to think of something to do. It can be something that you want to do.

Our free time can be used productively in pursuing some of the passions and dreams we may have given up on. When we engage in something we like doing, it gives us a sense of purpose. Give yourself a pat on the back for successfully steering through the most difficult phases of life. When you think about yourself, it isn’t a necessarily bad thing. You do not have to worry about certain things that were once important. Detach from the roles you were so used to playing. It is time to live in the now. The golden age is a time for re-invention. It is not the end of a life, but a beginning of a new one.

Are you looking forward to life after retirement? You should. There is so much you can do to enjoy the rest of your days. Here are some of the effective ways to ensure that you lead a fulfilling life post-retirement:

Stay positive

Do not have a fatalistic attitude once you retire. It is not the time to sulk. Develop a positive approach to the situation. Plan ahead and live your dreams. When you decide to live a positive life, things will start to look up. Reflect and think about all the good decisions you have made. Be grateful for the long life you have been given by God. When you develop a positive attitude, you will be happy, energetic, cheerful and free. You have to live with no regrets. You might have made mistake; however, it should not define you as a person. Count all your blessings. Remember, when you are positive, it rubs off on the people you meet and interact with on a daily basis. Let them know that life after retirement is wonderful.

Live in the moment

Live in the now. You should never worry about what will be. Enjoy the present and live each day like it is your last. Do not harbour feelings from the past as it could destroy your thoughts for the future. There is so much to be thankful for in the present. Appreciate the small blessings that you have rather than worrying about what will be. Reminiscing about past mistakes will be of no use. Now that you have moved on and learnt from the mistake, there is no need to think about it. The good and bad have taught us equally important lessons. Learn from both and you will be greatly enriched.

Also, try not to hold onto traditions. Let your family enjoy living in the present. The modern way of life may not go down well with you; however, you need to respect the younger generation and their way of living and thinking.

Key to happiness

Acceptance is an important part of moving on. It is also the key to happiness. When you make peace with your past, you can live securely in the future. Accept the past mistakes you have made. Learn from it and move on to the best possible life. You can choose to change your life or sulk about the mistakes of the past. Peace should be your destination. Learn to zone in on things that make you happy. Acceptance will help open the door to peace. When you cannot change what you want, learn to roll with it. Creating a happy future is more important than worrying about things in the past.

Share the burden

You have paid your dues and have supported your family. Now, it is time for them to take over the mantle. Hand over the reins of responsibility to them to ensure that they do their part, too. Give them advice and a few pointers on how they can take control. When you decide to let go and pass on the torch, the others will not budge. Detach from all the responsibilities that you once had. Play the role of a mentor and guide to the younger generation. Allow them to handle their own problems. Give them the support they need to stand on their own two feet. This will ensure that you get to live in peace for the rest of your days. This does not diminish your responsibility but will help build it. You will be the advice-giver and guide. They will still respect your position as the eldest in the family. However, there comes a time when responsibilities have to be divided. When power and responsibility it distributed, each one in the family will start becoming more responsible by nature. By always solving their problems, you set them up for failure. When they become dependent on you, the younger lot tend to lose focus. Experience is the best teacher. Through the hardships and lessons, they will learn the importance of shouldering responsibilities. Give your children the liberty to do what they want, how they want. In most Indian families, most elderly people do not want to give up. They want to hold on the reins of power. It is time for the next generation to take charge. Allow them to shine. They could surprise you with their maturity and decision-making capabilities.

Lower expectations

Most people tend to expect more from their loved ones and family members once they step into the golden age. However, expectations can bring with it a new set of burdens. It is always better not to expect much from anyone, even your own children. This will ensure that you live unfazed. When expectations are not met, you will become angry and irritable. We should never expect our children to conform to our standards or way of life. It would be expecting them to abandon their beliefs and modern way of living and thinking. Why oppose something that is part of society today? These changes form part of the new generation.

If your children are not complaining, why should you? One should save for a rainy day and not depend on children for after-retirement care. Children are borne out of joy. Do not expect them to be attached for life. They will fulfil their duties. Give them the freedom to express themselves and live the life they want. When you are working, save for your retirement. It will not make you dependent on your children. While we do expect as human beings, it does not necessarily serve you well. Why complain or hold onto bitterness? Spend that energy on appreciating life and the blessings you have. Be there for your children without expecting them to be there for you. When you live without expectations, you will life a fulfilled life.

Hassle-free life

The golden age of retirement should be lived hassle-free. Therefore, do not worry about anything or interfere with family matters. Let the family take over from where you left off. Learn to stay in the background while overseeing everything going on with the family. Do not interfere unless the other members seek your help. When you step in unnecessarily, the younger generation could snap at you. Why should you lose face with your family members? Maintain a safe distance and watch everything with a keen eye. Let them handle things the best way they can. You have to understand that everyone has their own way of dealing with situations. Difference in point of views could be the cause for differences. Do not be imposing, it could not go down well with the family. All you need is rest and relaxation.

Accept change

Change is the only constant in this world. Therefore, everyone needs to keep up with the times. Sticking to your way of thinking and living could leave you out in the cold. Some do not want to look beyond their circle of beliefs and ideas. Rigid ideas cannot stand up to chance. You need to appreciate and accept that life moves on. Change is good in some ways. Learn to look at the positives rather than fear the change. The modern way of life can be difficult to understand. We may not even comprehend new thinking. When this happens, we tend to judge people and situations according to our set of beliefs. The ability to change is a task in itself. Embrace it and enjoy the perks it has to offer.

When you retire, it is usually the best time to accept change. It gives you the opportunity to understand the change. There are a number of lessons to be learned from the new things in life. If you cannot accept certain changes, do not let it perturb you. Make peace with the type of change you feel comfortable with. When you adapt to change, life becomes easier. Sometimes, you need to give in to something new. Holding on the past does not give you much satisfaction after some time.

Stay fit

When you retire, it is essential to stay healthy. This does not mean that you have to hit the gym or do strenuous exercise. It entails doing small things that will keep you fighting fit. Concentrate on being a better version of yourself. Here are some things you can do to keep active and fit:

  1. Wake up early and avoid sleeping in late
  2. Make sure that you set a daily routine for yourself. This will allow you to fit into the fitness pattern easily.
  3. Adopt a diet that fits your health requirements. Make sure it does not have an adverse effect on your well-being
  4. Drink a lot of water; take in a lot of fresh air and be on the move
  5. Go for regular health check-ups. This will keep you up-to-date with complications, if any
  6. Take medicines on time
  7. Stay active; do not let retirement make you lazy
  8. Moderate the amount of food you intake, the hours you sleep and the exercise you do
  9. Salt, sugar and fat are an absolute no-no.
  10. Walking and talking at a fast pace can be regulated
  11. Laugh and interact with people who make you laugh. This will ensure a long life

Build mental strength

It is not enough to remain physically fit. Mental fitness is also important once you retire. When you remain alert, it helps keep the body in tune with the mind. Our brains have a number of cells which need to be kept active. When you do not use it anymore, it rusts. The mind needs its own share of food to survive and thrive. Do not let your grey cells loose. It could prove fatal. Keep your mind alert and active.

Here are some ways you can make it happen:

  1. Do not sit idle and spend all the free time with your friends. Pick a hobby or do something that will stimulate the brain – a crossword, read, and learn how to use new gadgets, among other things. When you are engaged in something, you will automatically be more alert to changes around you.
  2. Do not worry or stress about situations. Learn to relax and take everything in your stride. After working for so many years, it is natural for you to be restless. However, getting familiarized with relaxation will be a good thing. Enjoy every day of your retirement. Find new things to do or do things you’ve always wanted to do.
  3. Try not to spend too much time in front of the television. It is a proven fact that an idle mind could be dangerous. Mental decay could result from an idle mind. Stay mentally and physically active to ensure mental strength.

Financially independent

Why would you want to be financially dependent on your children once you retirement? Being financially independent is a boon once you hang up your boots for a life of peace and relaxation. Therefore, planning for a retirement usually starts well in advance. Being dependent on others may not be the best thing in the world. Try to save for a rainy day rather than being dependent on your children to provide for your needs. Invest wisely when you are young to prevent such an eventuality. Taking up retirement policies, fixed deposits and other saving methods is a great way to plan ahead. No matter how much sacrifice it takes, save up! Here are some of the things you should be wary about while saving:

  1. Saving a certain amount for your children is important. Giving them everything is unwise. You need to save up for yourself.
  2. Keep a certain amount for your expenditure before giving the rest away.
  3. Making a will is important. Mention clearly the distribution to avoid problems in the future.
  4. If necessary, hire assistants to help you out. It is advisable not to depend on family. Being financially independent will ensure security and happiness.
  5. While saving is good, you need to spend some of it on yourself. Do not have regrets. In fact, live life on your terms. Since you have worked hard for the money you have saved, enjoy a portion of it.
  6. While you might want to help your children and grandchildren with money, do not spoil them. Hold back a bit when it comes to distributing your wealth.
  7. Do not forget to spend on your personal pleasure.
  8. Give advice but stay in the background

Emotional strength

Once the retirement age hits, you might become emotionally distressed. We tend to feel a little less special, thinking our children do not care for us anymore. We also feel hapless because we do not have a steady source of income anymore. Your children are financially independent and may not require your help anymore. Do not feel down, you should be celebration.

Some of the emotional pitfalls you can fall into include:

  1. When a feeling of not being wanted creeps in
  2. The need for attention and respect by loved ones
  3. Reacting to situations at the drop of a hat. We might let the things our children say affect us. We tend to become oversensitive
  4. We become depressed with changes in our body structure. We tend to feel a sense of self-worth. Our confidence also dips
  5. Feelings of neglect
  6. There is a tendency to look to the past and comparing it with the future generation. This could lead to arguments and disagreements. Taunting children about the modern away of life is also natural
  7. Worrying and fearing the future
  8. It would not serve you well to feel disappointed about things going wrong at home or work. If you are going through emotional turmoil, it will show in your body or come out in speech. Avoid negativity from taking up residence. Learn to bring out your frustrations rather than keeping them in. Talk to people who you confide in. Indulge in activities outside of your home.

Spiritual awakening

There could be a time when you sit back and reflect on your life. You probably have had these thoughts every once in a while. There is more to life than just caring for children and providing for them. There are bigger dreams to fulfil. We are all spiritual beings that have a higher purpose to serve. Therefore, we should not only be content with our bodily existence. We have bigger aims than materialistic gains. We should work on fulfilling our higher calling. This will in turn help us to fulfil our spiritual needs.

We should use the life that we been given to understand the Supreme existence, which is all-pervasive and is something that we cannot comprehend. This quest for understanding and knowledge will help us on our spiritual journey. However, we should be focused on the larger picture than worry about the things of this world. Once you retire, dedicate the extra time to understanding the higher power and developing a spiritual connection. This should take precedence over everything else that might come as a distraction when you cross a certain age. While you were pursuing professional highs, you may have overlooked this aspect of your life. You might have been bogged down by duties and responsibilities rather than paying attention to spiritual needs. You now have the time to make this aspect a priority. Work towards achieving goals of spirituality, happiness, gratitude and bliss. One should always strive to lead a blissful life. This should be the primary aim of all human beings. It will fill your life with a sense of purpose and well-being. If you have not started on your spiritual journey, now is the time to make that move. When there is a spiritual void in us, we will never be fulfilled. We will in fact only be caught up in possessions. This will ultimately lead to emptiness, restlessness and loss. If you want to lead a truly enriched life, chase your spiritual aims. You need to find the living master who will be able to turn your life around and give you purpose. Are you ready for a spiritual awakening?

When you step into the golden age of retirement, you can expect to feel a host of emotions. However, choose to live the rest of your days with caution, awareness, passion and care. This will ensure a long and fulfilling life. The shastras have laid down the code of conduct which dictates the various stages of man. While you might be in your final stage, it can still be made special. Do not sulk or think about things that could cause worry. Instead, choose to remain active. Become like the sage who has realized the ultimate purpose in life. This does not mean that you have to renounce anything in order to gain the world. When you decide to make the journey worthwhile, it will become a special one. Trust in the road ahead and let the remainder of your years be lived in peace.