Shurooq, an Emarati from Dubai, has been on a journey of self-discovery ever since she shifted career from Science to humanitarian where she found joy. Her interests include traveling and foreign films. Shurooq’s column is influenced by those distinctive moments that give a deeper perspective on life.
What activities should your retirement plan include and how can you ensure you can finance it.
I was never one with a rose-tinted view of retirement. Instead, “Taqa3od” (retirement in Arabic) has always conjured up discouraging images in my head of old people who have worked into their late 60’s and are now spending their afternoons in front of the television. These dispiriting images made me feel that the majority did not just retire from work but from life as well. And it was the fear of realizing this daunting image that has made me vow to prevent it from materializing.
During a secondment in the UK, I became addicted to property shows such as “A Place in the Sun” where house hunters were helped to find their dream homes. What caught my attention about the couples buying their retirement homes abroad was their detailed plans of how their retirement days will be. This was a refreshing perspective that altered my initial views on retirement and made me seriously start thinking about an enjoyable plan of my own. With every episode, my mind conjured tranquil images of how I’d spend those days: traveling to exotic places, chilling by a pool and reading books.
All this until the day my path crossed that of a mature couple who were living my dreams. It felt like I had met an embodiment of my future-self that was spending summers in the French countryside, winters in the GCC and the rest of the year traveling to exciting, new destinations. But albeit it sounding dreamy, I noticed that the highlight of their days was going out for a morning coffee. And that was when I began to question my own planning. How will I finance all those vacations? Will my pension cover this? How much traveling or chilling can one do? But most importantly, what will I do with all this free time?
And I was right to harbor such big doubts. According to the AXA Retirement Scope 2010, although most people have the right mindset and awareness of retirement, few people are doing something about it. I obviously fell into the latter category. But what worried me more was the free time, boredom, and depression. Surveys by Skipton Building Society have shown that ‘the joys of retirement wear off approximately ten months after a person leaves their work’’. I knew people who went back to work after retirement because they ‘felt redundant’.
This meant that I couldn’t just put a financial plan and have a few ideas about what I wanted to do. I needed the correct approach to what I planned to learn and achieve during retirement. The more I researched this, the more I stumbled upon successful businesses that were started by retirees. For example, The Doctor Marion Foundation was created by retiree Marion Sommers to focus on elderly healthcare. Hence, the retirement phase of a person’s life can be as fruitful, and fulfilling as any other phase of life.
I am glad that life has made me aware of this topic through a property show and an encounter with an old couple. My retirement is 15 years and four months away, and I already have in addition to a financial plan, a list of activities and interests to pursue in my 60’s, 70’s and hopefully beyond.