Friday, June 5

Reimagining retirement: Start your purposeful journey


“The meaning of life is to live a meaningful life”

It’s always interesting to discuss the retirement objective with my clients as each of them have different ideas, time and objectives. Rather than focusing on a retirement plan with my client, I like to discuss retirement objectives.

Subsequently, I will discuss the differences between a retirement plan and retirement objectives.

Recently, a childhood friend of mine and I were discussing his financial goals. As a doctor, he told me he will never retire, and his ultimate goal is to work till he can. I dwelled deeper into this matter with him and I realised how passionate he is with his career.

He really enjoys what he does, he loves the problem solving and challenges he faces in his working environment. It was inspiring to understand that his retirement objectives is not to retire.

This is critical. Some people enjoy what they do so much that it would be unwise to retire unless you can replace that sense of meaning with some other activity or passion.

Now, let’s discuss the emotional part of your choice; whether to retire or not, and the impact it can have on your wealth, health and well-being.

The question here is, whatever your choice, to retire or not; will you be happier upon retirement? Will you have a purposeful life after retiring? Will you live longer if you retire?

In my opinion, before you plan your retirement, find the objective of your retirement first as that will make your retirement more meaningful. The retirement objectives should lead the retirement plan.

Retirement plans are more numerical findings; how much money you would need for retirement, where to invest after retirement, when are you going to retire and etc. One topic we can discuss till the end of the world is whether money can buy happiness or not?

Whatever your opinion, money is a major part of happiness. Retirement without financial security is miserable. However, money is not the only thing to consider in retirement, we should spend more time on developing retirement objectives to get a holistic retirement life.

Below are four important retirement objectives:

To have peace of mind

This will be the most important attribute you should have after retirement, since most of us have worked very hard for past 20 to 30 years with so much financial commitments; home loan, car loan, children education funds and other expenses.

It’s time to take a break from all the financial commitments and lead a peaceful mind. Without having a peace of mind it’s very difficult to proceed our daily life after retirement.

To pursue your passion

Having life goals that continue into retirement is pursuing your interest or passion. For an example, if you like golf, but only had time two times in a month to play before retirement, consider setting a weekly time once you are retired.

Systematic self-observation is one way for us to learn who and what we are. Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, personal growth workshops, Toastmasters, religion and gardening are some of the types of practices available.

As your retirement period will take another 20 to 30 years, decide on what activities, interests and lifestyle you would love to pursue after retirement. If you think, you still love your career and you want to contribute more, please proceed. Do what you love to do, as that guarantees happiness.

To spend time with loved ones

We can’t buy love and care, so priority should be given to loved ones during our retirement journey. Time with family and friends will carve lots of wonderful and joyful memories. Studies have shown that strong family and social connections are important for maintaining good health as you age.

To have a meaningful life

A fulfilling retirement is one with a purpose. Voluntary work, social development and charity are something you can start doing to ensure a real, meaningful life. A meaningful life is connected to the purpose, significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction of life. It’s no great secret that giving to others improves our own feelings of purpose and meaning.

Giving can take many forms, of course, donating our time, or our talent or simply lending a friendly ear. Finding meaning in life is an ongoing journey, a process that takes time, patience, and resilience.

It is not something that occurs magically and without effort.

A retirement plan suggests or prioritises more on the money aspect and less on your personal life goals.

Therefore, set your life goals because, as your life goals are clearer it will be easier to plan the monetary part.

To conclude, invest in experiences with the people we love, take a little time every day to exercise and be thankful. Focus more on memories and less on things, especially lifestyle items owned by other people, and recognise and help people who may not be experiencing the same fortunate life as we are.

Combining these elements in a way that is active and meaningful will create a retirement that is personally fulfilling, which is the ultimate measure of a successful retirement.

Gunaseelan Kannan, a licensed financial advisor by Bank Negara Malaysia and a licensed financial planner by Securities Commission (CMSRL/B4198/2013), is currently pursuing his PhD research on financial planning and financial technology. He also lectures on accounting, finance and business fields. He is the Malaysian Financial Planner of the Year 2018 and 2019 Award winner (1st Runner Up), from Financial Planning Association of Malaysia. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]