The Golden Years - A Meaningful Retirement

Relaxing with a college friend, Bittoo in the Garden

Recently a friend who had just retired from an active professional life in USA dropped in for a visit. Among other things we talked about how to make retirement years meaningful. As a thinker I have pondered over the subject from time to time.

Many persons on retirement at 60 or 65 end up doing less than the best because of insufficient planning for these golden years. While some adjust happily to a new life of freedom some undergo a period of depression or confusion that may be called retirement blues.  As a result the health may suffer a bit too. A second category of persons are those who struggle to find re-employment and their situation is not very good either since they end up working just as hard in years they should be taking it easy at a job that in most cases is less than satisfactory as compared to their earlier one. Moreover they simply kick the can down the road and postpone the inevitable to a point when it would get more difficult and reduce the chances of a good last phase to life. Most important of all, as mentioned in another post on the five stages of life, they would miss the purpose of an evening after a hard day of work thus messing up the next day too. Similar is the case of persons who were in business from the start and hang on to it with dear life until their last breath without passing on the mantle to younger persons unlike Bill Gates. In some cases there may be a financial need to do that and then there is no choice but every retiring person must consider if they can avoid that by living more simply if necessary.

The Golden Engagement

Between the two extremes is a middle path that in my view is the ideal option. It is to look for part time work, activity or engagement that fills up the period between 9/9.30am to 12.30/1pm for three to six days a week. It may be called the Golden engagement. There are very many ways one can do that at a location that is not very far from home to commute to. A few who are not the outgoing types and have an indoor engagement such as writing books and blogs can have that as their golden engagement but most do better by going out and interacting with others. When gainful part time work cannot be found nearby one may also explore voluntary work in the area and thus give back something to the world while earning good karma.

The golden engagement need not be at just one establishment. A few academics that I know visit different education institutions on different days of the week. Various organizations would benefit by engaging retired persons for such part time work and perhaps someone enterprising out there can come up with a website that would match such persons with needs of organizations and businesses in various postal zones of the world (to minimize commuting) for such a golden engagement (Please do give credit to this blogger for the idea if you do). Retired persons may also explore setting up a small business with younger persons and spend a few hours a day there to create the golden engagement. Some could make use of their experience in launching a whole new project to benefit the world such as the design of a retreat described in an earlier post in this blog.

Living close to nature and communing with beautiful wilderness  is an option for a highly rewarding golden engagement at least for the spiritually minded. A time must come in every life when the throbbing and hopping that takes place must be replaced with the joy that emanates from the heart for the wonderful creation we all happen to be born in.

Whatever be the golden engagement it must be such that you can absent yourself from it for days or weeks in order to retain the freedom that should be the right of every retired person. Spending time with infant grandchildren is one of the most rewarding and joyous part of life for many senior persons as it has been for me and of great benefit to both the child and the senior and most must be made of it.

A Possible Schedule

Once the golden engagement has been worked out making retirement years meaningful become a breeze. Here is a plan that can fit many on most days when not traveling or engaged in activity that requires attention elsewhere such as visits of grandchildren, that much needed renovation work, a stint at the health camp or retreat etc. 

6 to 9 am: These hours are filled easily with some or all of the following activities - morning tea, reading newspaper, gardening, exercise, walk, meditation, bath and breakfast.  Avoid the internet or TV in this period.

9am to 1pm:  Golden engagement

1pm to 2pm: Lunch on Broadway or home in front of TV News

2pm to 4pm: Nap, reading newspaper, book

4pm to 6pm: Afternoon tea, family chat, visiting neighbors, entertaining neighbors, walk. Email, social media

6pm to 9pm: Visiting club, watching TV, supper or dinner, phone chatting with friends and family

9pm to sleep: Meditation, reading

One might ask: What about by modelling, pottery or music hobby; well just make it a part of the golden engagement, one, two or three days a week; and what about that picnic, well there are Sundays for that and the kids can join in too; or my day on the beach? How about another Sunday for that? a lot more on the beach for sure on Sundays.

The schedule here is just one of many possible ones and must vary since each person is unique. However, whatever be the chosen schedule, through it all a sense of discipline is required and perhaps that is the hardest thing to do. When one is freed of the imposed routine of regular full time work it is easy to open the net or TV at the wrong time or to maintain odd hours for sleep or meals or miss out on physical exercise as I tend to. However attempts at meeting a desired discipline add to the challenge and spice up life. Everything in this post is directed at persons younger than 75 because soon after that ends the evening of life to enter night time when the golden engagement must come to an end. At that age what is done between 6 and 9 am may fill up the entire morning. See the post on the five stages of life  and where these retirement years fit in. If you liked the message of this post this other one is a must read in order to properly balance it and appreciate it in the correct context.

Best wishes to all readers from this blogger. If a reader contributes more ideas as a comment it could benefit others who come to read this post.  A spiritual master whose own journey was just 33 odd years said, it is not important how long the journey is but it is important that every day of it is lived well in service not just to self but the world around; often a brief journey brings one to a more beautiful destination and long one is tiresome, that passing difficulties are viewed as mere inconveniences, and when that flight called life stops, the stop be a smooth and swift landing without the engine catching fire, a punctured tire or parts dropping off. That is something not in one's hand fully but something to be prayed for to the Pilot and his engineers, the angels of the Lord.  May your life be a rewarding and meaningful one filled with peace, happiness and joy for whatever be the length of its journey this time around.


Ashok said…
After the first draft was written yesterday, it required some tinkering and editing today as very many posts in this blog, and most pieces of writing do, in order to improve it.

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