In the financial plan, retirement planning takes a huge space and importance. Often, the definition financial planners assign to retirement makes it an impossible goal to achieve. On paper, it looks achievable only with great difficulty and not something you can avoid. But, is that all the truth there is to life? Do you really need to slave in the prime of your life to have free time in the weak age?
Perhaps we need to think of retirement in a new light…
What is retirement?
The first step of any plan is the definition of the objective, same with your retirement planning. So let’s define our retirement.
I was taught that retirement is that stage when you stop working and relax, enjoy the fruits of your labor. But then, doesn’t that stage come at a time when your only enjoyments will be limited to strolls in the park, or chat with friends, or visits to your family doctor. Also, given the current state of environment and economy, this can only get worse by the time many of us think of retiring this way.
Then came another definition of retirement. Slightly better than the previous one, this new definition claimed retirement as that moment in life when you no longer have to work for money. Though, not very different from the previous definition, this offered a possibility of more control over your retirement.
Perhaps you can choose when you can retire and stop worrying about your income from the things you want to do. That sounds like it is possible to retire within that age while you can still enjoy life.
That is somewhat relieving, but still means you will be slugging it out for a couple of years.
It is Not Retirement Stupid
A few days ago, I realized the great flaw both the definitions present – work & rest. These two are the cause of great pain and misery in the lives of at least thousands, if not millions. The expectation of rest after a period of sluggish work (employment). The realization which happens midway during the lifetime, that there is no rest till death do us apart, could come as a jolt for many (at least for me it was).
If you look at the people who are admired for their contribution in any field of the world, you will realize that many of them never retired. Not at least by the above two definitions. In fact, saying that they ‘died on their battlefield’ would be more appropriate.
Or maybe, they were exactly in the opposite situation – “They had already retired.” Can your retirement plan say you can retire tomorrow, or maybe in a few months?
The New Definition of Retirement
There is a host of the population that has conquered this definition, realized this in the early years of their profession, worked towards it and achieved. So what is this definition?
Perhaps somewhat like this, “Work on the things that add more value to you, and those working for you.”
You may want to put it like this as well, “Built your profession in the field that energizes you.”
Such work not only will make you a better person, but also a better earner for the most part, and even if not a better earner, you will still be happier.
You’d like to hold on to that last word, that is going to be important in the later part.
How to Find Your Retirement?
If you have any experience in the world of employment, by now you may have already figured it out. If not, here it goes.
Not happy in your current employment? It is possible that it includes a lot of activities which are not valuable to you. Sit down and take note (spreadsheet would be better), of all the activities you are involved in, then mention how valuable you feel they are for you.
Once your personal list is ready, you need to mention how valuable each of these activities is for your profession. You may want to hide the previous column before starting this. For example, you may not want frequent meetings with clients’ POCs but, for your role and organization, they are valuable in keeping the relationship intact.
Use a maximum of four scaling parameters:
- Very Valuable
- Not Valuable
- Demoralizing (Degrades Value)
Once done, unhide your valuation of these activities for self. The combinations of your valuations for an activity will give you a glimpse into the strengths and weaknesses of your existence in the role.
How to Read the Matches?
Matches where the valuation for the organization and for self are in the first two scales – Very Valuable and/or Valuable), are the ones you need to preserve. (see Figure 1.1)
These are the activities which make your current role worthwhile for you and help you beat any competition for the same. In short, you can outperform others with these activities.
Therefore, if you want to excel in your career, you need either of the following two things:
- Find a way to develop your interest in activities which are valuable for your role
- Be in a role which promises (or needs) more of those activities which are valuable for you
Both are possible, but in any role, you will find ‘x’ amount of activities which are completely non-interesting for you. So, there’s no choice here; you need to do both; i.e. develop interest and skill at the same time use your team to do the rest.
What Does Your Retirement Look Like?
Your retirement, as per the new definition, looks like the matrix in Figure 1.1, except with more ‘Good’ matches, and manageable bad matches. The moment those activities you find interesting, start to pay you off in real currency, you can retire.
Because this is the time when your profession pulls you out of bed and even makes you comfortable in it. This is the time when you are happy with the process, rather than the success or failure of it. This is also that time when you no longer need to worry about earnings because whatever you are doing, you do it for the love of it (and it earns you money).
The crux of this idea is simple…
“Love what you do, and you will be better at it than the rest. If not today, then in a few days for sure.”