I had gotten used to the daily routine of traveling to the office for work but the time came when I had to prepare myself for retirement. I could not believe how time to retirement could have moved so fast without me paying so much attention to it.
Finally, the big day of retirement arrived and a farewell party was held to thank me for the dedicated services I had rendered to the organization. I gave my farewell speech and wished everyone success in their journey of life.
My journey in retirement commenced immediately after my farewell speech. I can admit I initially found it difficult to switch off my mind from the office work routine which had become part of my life for over 30 years.
I had gotten used to leaving home early in the morning to beat the traffic jam and be in the office before 7 am. I used the first 50 days of my retirement in travelling and linking up with people I had missed interacting with because of my busy office work schedule. Thereafter I embarked on the implementation of my retirement plan.
In summary, there is a wonderful life to live after retirement as I am relaxed and enjoying myself and doing things that I love doing. I have enjoyed my retirement despite the challenges in life because I had prepared myself for it.
The purpose of this article is to share my experience and lessons learned during retirement.
Purpose in life
During the employment phase, my purpose in life was more on my career development and working hard and diligently to earn adequate funds to provide for my family’s needs and accumulate savings to take care of my family’s future needs.
The family needs included items like food, housing, medical, school fees for children, and family capacity enhancement and savings among others.
During this phase, I associated more with people who in one way or another were helping me to enhance my capacity to achieve both my personal and employer’s goals.
After retirement my focus in life changed a bit to go beyond my family needs to include the needs of the community. I have realized the need to connect with and show concern for the welfare of the community.
Many people in the community do not have adequate financial resources to provide themselves with the basic needs of life.
They also cannot confront and overcome the challenges because they cannot do so. My focus is now more on what I can do to help communities in rural areas enhance their capacity to live better lives.
I have also adjusted my mission in life to read “To leave this world better than I found”. To achieve my mission better, I have set up a model retirement home in the village to help me have an effective connection with the community.
At the time of my retirement, most of my social connections were more or less connected to my workplace. I associated more with current and potential customers of the organizations I worked for.
My work was mainly to attract, serve, and retain customers for my employers. I had what I may call work-related connections. Since retirement, my work-related social connections have greatly reduced because I am no longer adding value to them.
I have tried to keep in contact with them but in vain. I stopped calling them because I guessed I was no longer adding value to them. I have had to build new social connections with whom I can exchange ideas and share valuable information.
The new connections have also in return shared valuable information with me. The current valuable information I have is in sustainable farming, sharing of life lessons, preparing for retirement, lessons learned in retirement, and approaches to solving community challenges among others.
Certainly, this valuable information may not directly appeal to the CEOs and staff of local and international organizations who are more focused on growing their career and meeting the goals of their employer.
However, I have started seeing my former work colleagues showing some interest in what I am currently doing.
Some retirement activities may not work out
Some of the activities I have planned to do in my retirement did not work out for various reasons.
For whatever reason, I had planned to engage in business advisory services to share my experience and also generate some income. I did this on the assumption that the economy of Uganda would pick up and attract big investments in various sectors.
The economy did not perform to the level of stimulating and attracting big investors for business advisory services. The closure of the economy for some time because of COVID-19 compounded my problems.
I, however, had a fall-back position on other activities I had included in my retirement plan.
The other planned activities for my retirement included the following;
- Seeking opportunities for board membership;
- Engaging in sustainable farming;
- Value addition services at the farm level for the benefit of the community;
- Fish farming;
- Capacity enhancement for the community;
- Developing an inspiration blog;
- Leisure activities and
- Crocodile farming.
The above activities have kept me busy and enabling to do what I love doing.
There is a need for career change in retirement
A few years into retirement, I realized that I could not continue in the same business line of business advisory services that I was in before my retirement.
If I did continue, I would face a lot of competition from the people, I trained and those I had social connections with. I also realized my effectiveness in the delivery of services was declining as I became a senior citizen.
I also found it untenable to compete with young people who had both the energy and the facilities to keep up-to-date with local, regional, and global business trends.
I also recalled the purpose of my retirement was to relax and enjoy my retirement and only do those things that I loved doing not necessary for money.
I had to close down the consulting firm as it was not fulfilling the purpose of my retirement. I have had to change several things in the retirement plan to achieve the purpose of my retirement.
Retirement funds cannot meet all the needs
My list of needs did not change so much because I was in retirement. The limiting factor has remained the amount of funds I have set aside or planned for my retirement.
The funds will not be adequate unless I strictly adhere to the needs I prioritized in my retirement plan. I can only add more items to my list of needs if I can safely engage in activities that will generate new funds for me. I can no longer afford some luxuries because the funds are not available.
Therefore, I have seen a need for a lot of self-discipline in using funds set aside for retirement to avoid running out of fund.
Healthy living as a mitigation strategy
As I advance in age I have noted an increase in health complications resulting in higher medical bills that are most likely to go beyond the planned level.
Some of the mushrooming complications cannot be locally handled as they require medical care from outside the country. An increase in medical complications and related medical costs can be mitigated against by deliberately adopting a healthy lifestyle of living that results in a healthy body and mind.
For a healthy lifestyle of living, one has to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. A healthy lifestyle of living will result in a healthy body and mind that will greatly reduce sickness and the resulting medical bills.
On the farm therefore I promote healthy living through eating healthy foods that are free from chemicals, engaging in daily exercises, and enjoying fresh air that is provided by a created healthy environment.
The challenge of looking after dependants
When I prepared my retirement plan I assumed that we would be only a few people in the home as the children would have grown and will be self-reliant.
The high unemployment in the country has made it difficult for university graduates to secure jobs that are well paying for purposes of meeting their needs. I have started seeing a trend of university graduates struggling to make ends meet. This calls for a need for me to revise my retirement plan and include in a provision to help my grown children in case a need arises.
I think the days are gone when parents were expecting their grown children to be self-reliant as soon as they graduate from the university. At the moment grown-up children who do not have well-paying jobs may need support from us in balancing both their current and capital budgets.
There are also several relatives and extended family members who continuously knock on the door for financial assistance. The more I give out to the dependents, the more I am likely to find myself without enough funds for my retirement
Difficult to grow and get a supply of healthy foods
I am engaged in sustainable farming to preserve the environment for future generations and also to provide my family with healthy foods that are free from contaminations resulting from the use of pesticides; herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.
These chemicals have negative long-term health effects on human health and the environment. I am finding it increasingly difficult to grow organic foods without the application of chemicals for disease control. It is now a challenge to get healthy foods free from chemicals.
I had two options either to retire in an urban or rural area setting. I opted to retire on a small farm in a rural area setting. When I retired in a rural area setting I became part of the community and I have taken part in solving community challenges to the extent I can.
Solving community challenges requires a bit of money which certainly I do not have plenty of. This has taught me to be innovative and creative in solving community challenges.
I have quickly realized that to solve community challenges, we have first to address the root causes. The key root cause of most of the community challenges is a lack of knowledge and skill to identify and address the problems that they are facing.
I have opted to concentrate on equipping the community around me with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to identify and overcome the challenges. I have already offered free baking and cooking skills to over twenty girls and women in the area.
Some of them have already secured jobs because of the knowledge and skill they have obtained from the farm.
Negative impact of inflation
The prices of foods, fuel, and other requirements have more than doubled since I retired from employment as a result of inflation and other factors. The planned income has not increased as planned hence my plan is not adequately funded to meet the planned needs. I have been forced to look for other sources of income to address the shortfall in funding.
There is wonderful life to live after retirement provided you have adequately planned for it. I am enjoying my retirement and doing things that I love doing.