Martin Lee @ Sg
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How to Retire?

I received this article about planning for your retirement and thought it would be worth sharing. It covers not so much on the financial aspect, but more on what to do during retirement.

Four Pre-Conditions for Retirement

By Cheng Huang Leng

I retired in year 2000 at age 52. I am now 61, thus I can claim that I got more experience at retirement than most! I thought I should share my experience with mariners because I have seen too many friends and neighbours who became so bored that they have become a nuisance to their spouse and children and to others!

three-senior-women-and-mature-woman-playing-mahjongA few of them have solved the problem by going back to work. They were able to do so because they have a skill/expertise that is still in demand. The rest (and many are my neighbours) live aimlessly or are waiting to die – a very sad situation, indeed.

You can retire only when you fulfil these 4 pre-conditions:

1. Your children are financially independent (e.g. they got jobs),
2. You have zero liability (all your borrowings are paid up),
3. You have enough savings to support your lifestyle for the rest of your life, AND most importantly,
4. You know what you would be doing during your retirement.

DO NOT retire till you meet ALL 4 Pre-Conditions. And of course you should not retire if you enjoy working and are getting paid for it!

The problem cases I know of are those who failed to meet Pre-Condition #4.

When asked, “What would you be doing during your retirement?” some replied, “I will travel/cruise and see the World”. They did that, some for 3 months and then ran out of ideas. The golfers replied, “I can golf every day.” Most could not because they are no longer fit to play well enough to enjoy the game. Those who could, need to overcome another hurdle – they need to the find the “kakis” to play with them.

It’s the same with mahjong, bridge, badminton, trekking and karaoke – you need “kakis”! Most could not find others who share their favourite game and playing/singing alone is no fun. AND when they do find them, a few of them found that they are NOT welcomed like my obnoxious neighbour whom everyone avoids.

Thus if you are into group sports or games, you must form your groups BEFORE you retire. You need to identify your “kakis”, play with them and discover whether they “click” with you.

The less sporty “can read all the books bought over the years”. I know of one guy who fell asleep after a few pages and ended up napping most of the time! He discovered that he did not like to read after all. We do change and we may not enjoy the hobbies we had.

Routine Activities To Fill Your Week

For most people, your routine work activities are planned for you or dictated by others and circumstances. When you retire, you wake up to a new routine – one that you yourself have to establish as nobody else would do it for you!

The routine to establish should keep your body, mind and spirit “sharpened”. A good routine would comprise:

a) One weekly physical sport – you need to keep fit to enjoy your retirement. If you are the non-sporty type, you should fire your maid and clean your home without mechanical aids. Dancing and baby sitting are good alternatives.

b) One weekly mind stimulating activity – e.g. writing, studying for a degree, acquiring a new skill, solving problems or puzzles, learn or teach something. You need to stimulate your mind to stay alive because the day you stop using your brain is the day you start to die.

c) One weekly social activity – choose one involving lots of friends/neighbours. Get yourself accepted as a member to at least 3 interests groups. Unless you prefer to be alone, you do need friends more than ever as you get older and less fit to pursue your sport.

d) One weekly community service activity – you need to give to appreciate what you have taken in this life. It’s good to leave some kind of legacy.

With 4 weekly activities, you got 4 days out of 7 covered. The remaining 3 days should be devoted to family related activities. In this way, you maintain a balance between amusing yourself and your family members. Any spare time should remain “spare” so that you can capitalise on opportunities that come your way like responding to an unexpected request to do a job or to take advantage of cheap fares to see places or to visit an exhibition.

Mind stimulating activities

Most judges live to a ripe old age. They use their brains a lot to decide on cases. I am sure MM Lee’s brain works overtime. He’s 80+ and still going strong. In “Today” you would have read of 2 inspiring oldies. One is a granny who learned to play the guitar at age 60 to entertain his grandchildren. She’s 70+ today and those grandchildren have grown to play with her. Another is an Indian radiologist who on retirement, qualified as an acupuncturist. He’s age 77 and still offers his services (by appointment only) including free ones to those who have no income. I guarantee you that they are happy people who discovered a “2nd wind” to take them to the sunset with a smile on their faces.

Mind stimulating activities are hard to identify. They require your will to do something useful with the rest of your life, a mindset change and the discipline to carry it through.

Your Bucket List

Despite your busy routine, you will at times be bored. Then it’s time to turn to your Bucket List.

Your bucket list contains a list of things to do before you kick the bucket. They are not routine and are usually one off activities. You need them to have something to look forward to. These include anniversaries, trips (and pilgrimages), visits to friends and relations abroad, re-doing your home, attending conferences (related to your hobbies), acquiring a new set of expertise. 4 such activities that are spaced our quarterly would be ideal.

Retirement Is A Serious Business

If you can afford to retire and want to, do prepare to live to your fullest. You need to be fit to enjoy it – therefore get into shape now. You do not want to get up on a Monday and wonder what to do each week, therefore identify your set of weekly routine activities now and try them out to confirm that they are the activities that you will be looking forward to doing each week, week after week. You bucket list of “rewards” or “projects” or “challenges” is needed to help you break away from the routine thereby make live worth living. Start listing what you fancy and refine it as you chug along in your retirement. You will have so much fun, you would wish you were retired since your turned 21!

I will be happy to share my personal retirement experience with mariners. Just write to me.

Cheng Huang Leng

Leave a Comment:

andy says 13 years ago

“would therefore recommend a 5th pre-condition for these people to meet before they decide to retire. They should seek and identify a good leader and stick by him or her before they retire. “—-> Doesn’t it mean finding a kaki as well?

Dont understand why is forest attacking someone with a good intention to share.

I am 36 and found Mr CHeng’s sharing is quite useful. I think a lots of us know the 4 conditions but didn’t see them quite clearly.

I think Finding the kaki part is not easy. Either you must have the kaki before you retire or you need to find the kaki actively…

Some says get the spouse. Even it is not so easy. I have seen friend’s retired mother loves dancing but the father is a loner at home . I have found friend’s mother loves gardening but the father just love to sit infront of the tv whole. In fact, my own parent are one of them. If you ask my dad to do exercise, he is worried about his diabetic condition. My mum, her back. so…. health is very important too!!

A healthy body and a healthy mind plus a healthy pocket!!

    see says 13 years ago

    I planned for retirement , but at 60 yrs and was forced to retire by unfortunate factors.
    It is already 3 months and i still lost in the jungle and do
    know what to do. pls. help.

Cheng Huang Leng says 13 years ago

Hello Mr. Mani O’Muney,

I welcome your comments and criticism.

My advice is meant for those who are planning to retire NOT for those who have retired. Through planning and validating their plans, they will lead purposeful lives during their retirement. And I believe that such people die happy. I have not defined what is purposeful for it is a personal thing. I have also not prescribed as to whom one should consult for as you rightly pointed out, it depends on the individual. Hence I will not comment on your 5th pre-condition.

For those who have not planned for their retirement and are happy at work, then working till they are no longer needed seems to me a sensible option. Whether that is done at the expense of their employers, it is not for me to judge. For those who have retired and are lonely, I hope my article helps them to analyse and improve their situations.

I am not qualified to pass judgement on people and the choices they make with their lives and I do not intend to. My purpose was to share what worked for me and I apologise if I come across as prescriptive.

Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your kind wishes. The Top of the World to You too!

Cheng Huang Leng

Forest says 13 years ago

Hi, I forwarded your article and I received a comment which you might want to read.

A Fifth Pre-Condition for Retiring Happily

I was seriously intrigued by the article “How to Retire” by Cheng Huang Leng. Since Mr Cheng sees fit to circulate his article, I hope he does not mind some comments and maybe even criticism.

It would seem to me that Mr. Cheng’s advice is meant for a very specific group of people only – the very lonely. I say this because the retiree makes all the decisions himself and does not even consult his loved ones. In the end, he suffers his children to consider him insufferable and a nuisance. This is a great tragedy for a very lonely person.

I suppose this is a natural consequence for a somewhat egoistic and selfish person who makes all his decisions himself without consulting anyone and still expects others to keep him happy.

In the end such people as Mr. Cheng wishes to advise actually use their employers to keep themselves happy since they seem most happy working and not when they retire. They look like followers rather than leaders and cannot even initiate things to keep themselves happy, preferring to surrender this function to their employers. Other than this such persons are also like robots slogging away at a daily routine in trying to keep boredom at bay.

In a sense Mr. Cheng’s article inadvertently reveals that there are 2 types of persons in this world i.e. those who are leaders and those who are followers.

I would therefore recommend a 5th pre-condition for these people to meet before they decide to retire. They should seek and identify a good leader and stick by him or her before they retire. This way, they ensure that their happiness is taken care of by their leader as a good leader would be able to provide meaning to the lives of these people.

Have a Good Day and Top of the World to You!
Mani O’Muney

    lioninvestor says 13 years ago

    Hi Forest,

    Thanks for posting that.

    I have directed the original writer of the article to this. See what he says.

Ren says 13 years ago

Thanks for sharing your experience and breaking down the requirements into 4 simple points.

Pål says 13 years ago

Great article! I believe that a lot of people close to retirement age are worrying about this topic.

Jasmin says 13 years ago

An excellent sharing on meeting ALL that 4 pre-conditions before retiring!

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