Retirement – for some, the culmination of a long career, for others, a beginning of a new chapter in life. What are your thoughts on life after retirement? Where do you see yourself after retiring from work? Give it a thought while you read on.
Ted Carlin had turned 66 and was retiring today. Today was his last day at work. He was being showered with retirement gifts from everyone around. Everyone around him, his colleagues and friends, his seniors and subordinates were wishing him a happy retired life. He had spent a long tenure at this workplace and was content about his service.
His education, his expertise, and his experience were valued by everyone in the organization. He had always been one of the most respected individuals within and outside the organization. He had maintained good professional relations with everyone he had worked with, till then. He had had a bright and enviable career. And today, he was going to make a graceful exit from work. Today was going to be the end of his tenure at service. He was going to retire today.
Ted announced to his colleagues that he would soon throw a grand retirement party. After all, not all work relations remain just ‘work’. Over time, some professional relations turn into friendships. Yes, these colleague-turned-friends were going to be the invitees for his party. He handed them the retirement party invitations and walked to the stage to deliver his retirement speech.
In the speech, he expressed gratitude towards the organization and thanked everyone he had worked with. He called his tenure in that organization, an enriching experience. He had trained many freshmen and mentored them in their careers. He had always had so much to give in terms of his knowledge and experience. Modest that he was, he didn’t speak much about that. He ended his eloquent speech with a quote by Richard Armour. It said, “Retired is being twice tired, I’ve thought; first tired of working, then tired of not.”
Ted came home. He was greeted with gifts from his family members and close friends. He was meeting his college friends today, that too after such a long time. Most of them were retirees. Ted felt wonderful to see them; they had so much to say to each other. It was a great feeling to meet his old pals. He knew who must have thought of giving him this pleasant surprise. It must have been Jane, his better half.
His wife, Jane – a homemaker in her late 50s and a wonderful human being. Jane had called his friends over, planned some games for them and cooked dinner. After the party when everyone had left, Ted found some time for himself. Jane knew he wanted to be alone. He needed some space, some quiet, some time with himself. Jane kissed him good night and went to sleep, while Ted decided to spend some time in the garden.
“Ted, you are a retiree now”, he thought aloud. Today, on the day of his retirement, he was remembering every milestone in this successful journey of his. Today had been his last day at work. He wouldn’t be going to office from tomorrow. He was going to miss everything… his subordinates, superiors, and even the office boy who brought him coffee everyday! ‘Today’, his last day at work, had already ended. ‘Tomorrow’ would be the first day of his life after retirement. He remembered how his journey had begun.
He had started working at the age of 21. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he had joined a small firm. He had joined as a trainee. He remembered his first job offer and the excitement with which he had accepted it. There weren’t many career opportunities in his times, he thought. All he knew at that time was that he had to start earning a living after completing education.
He remembered his job search… he used to pack his lunch early morning and set off in search of a job; it was so crazy for him to do that he felt; that time it was thrilling though. (Perceptions change with growing age.) In the initial years of his career, he hadn’t been very choosy about his job. In fact, he had tried his hand at everything he thought he could do. He knew he wanted to make a living and he knew he had to do it the right way. His journey had begun.
Reflecting on his past, he thought, it was his positive attitude and the courage to bounce back after every failure, that had brought him where he was. Today was the day he would retire. Today was the day to celebrate; not his retirement, but his successful career. And this, he thought, he could do best by penning down his memories of the yester years. He began writing…
I am retiring today. This day brings back memories of all the bygone days. I still remember the time when I was a freshman, just out of university, quite unaware of where life would take me. I started searching for a job; I knocked the doors of many employers; not that every door greeted me with a smile. But every opportunity, I missed or made most of, taught me something new. I still remember the job interview; that got me my dream job! I was extremely nervous, there was a panel of four, assessing me. I was selected for the second interview round and that came as a surprise. I went on qualifying for all further rounds and was finally selected! My job search had got a happy ending.
I had got my dream job. I was a junior software developer in MNK Solutions, a multinational company I had always dreamt of working in. For the first few months I worked in shifts. I was ready for it all; I wanted to learn, to absorb everything I could, I wanted to gain knowledge about the company’s working; I was receptive towards everything; be it a feedback from my immediate boss, appreciation from the management, or criticism from my superiors. I took both success and failure, in the same stride. I was a young boy, full of energy, enthusiastic about every little thing I did. Enthusiasm, I feel, is a vital ingredient of a successful career.
Three years later…
I planned to settle down. Jane was the only woman I could think of. We had been friends since college and without even having to propose one another, we had decided to get married. We had never discussed anything about marriage; it was just so obvious for her to be my wife and it had always been that way. We wedded each other on the Valentine’s day… she was 23, I was 27. She looked like a princess as she walked down the aisle.
That very moment I fell in love with her, once again. We were always made for each other, I felt, and saw the same feeling in her eyes. In a year’s time, we had a child, a beautiful girl, who looked just like her mother. We were a complete family now. I had a decent job that paid me enough to feed my family and save for the future. We were happy. Happiness, I feel, is something we strive for, all our lives.
Four years later…
Suddenly everything seemed to have come to a standstill. I was laid off. I had to start my job search all over again. Things would have gone fine; if not for the losses our company incurred. They had to cut down resources, and I was one of those. The layoff was a very unfortunate thing to happen to me at that point of my career. Starting anything of my own was not a feasible option; there was no question of planning for early retirement. The only option I had, was to find another job and tend to the needs of my family.
“I have lost my job”, I told my wife. I didn’t know how she would take it. I knew she was as shattered as I was, after hearing the news. But she didn’t let the panic show on her face. “Don’t consider yourself a failure Ted. It’s just a setback. I am sure you will get a good job soon; perhaps, even a better one. Don’t lose hope. And remember one thing, I love you and will always do.” I had never met this strong woman before. My sweetheart Jane, was today, my strength. The layoff, was, as she had said, just a minor setback. The phase soon passed and I got a good job. I was back in the game, once again. Failures, I feel, change you. They change you for better.
Life is not a cakewalk, I had begun to realize. I was in my late forties and I had begun to contemplate life; I looked at it from a different perspective now. I was a changed man. The twenty odd years at work had shown me all kinds of times and all types of people. There were times when I felt lonely, when I felt low; there were times when I couldn’t handle work pressure, when I was unable to manage job stress. And there were times to triumph, things to be happy about and reasons to smile. I came across so many different kinds of people. But among them all, there were a few who stood by me and gave me the strength to keep going.
Years passed by, I earned higher salaries, chaired better positions, and shouldered greater responsibilities. I was once a resource and now an asset for my organization. I gave my fullest wherever I worked and that’s what gave me job satisfaction.
Time has flown by; I still cannot believe that so many years have passed. I have reached my retirement age and I won’t go to office any more. After retirement, life won’t be the same. I will no longer be a working professional. All that hustle and bustle will come to a stop. I won’t see my office from tomorrow. I won’t meet my colleagues. I won’t see my desk, my cabin…. everything that was so much mine till yesterday will be someone else’s from tomorrow. Someone else will take my place. That’s how life is!
Time is the best teacher, they say. Time has taught me what life is. Through all these years, I have evolved as a person and professional. From tomorrow; there won’t be office; there won’t be deadlines, there won’t be targets. I will really miss it all. I am surely going to miss many things but I won’t regret any. I have no regrets. I have done what I could and now I am free to do what I want. I have planned my life after retirement.
Now me and my wife Jane are planning to settle down in one of the best places to retire. Our financial planning for retirement is done. And by grace of God, I don’t need to think about money any more. We have enough to feed ourselves and do something for society. We have thought of associating ourselves with a retirement community; not just to socialize but to seed and spread the idea of social work in the retirees. I had always wanted to do something for society and now I have the time. There are so many things to do. Now I have the time. Someone has rightly said, “After retirement, life begins!”
I have spent a lot of time, in fact, so many years, pursuing my career, earning money, and worrying about work. I have hardly given time to Jane. From today, all my time is hers. Those special moments of togetherness that we have missed; those little joys that have slipped away; those memories that have faded in time; I want to relive all those precious moments… now.
And as he finished penning down his memories, he felt the letters blur. It was probably because there were tears in his eyes. As he quickly wiped his tears away, he saw the sun rise. He saw Jane standing behind him, with a cup of coffee. “It’s morning Ted and you have spent the whole night here.” “I was busy in a serious discussion Jane; I had an important meeting with… well, myself”, Ted replied. “And I need an appointment with you Ted; I need to discuss certain things; we need to address certain issues”, Jane joked. “Anytime honey”, said Ted, cuddling her, “now, I am all yours.”