Do you have a Use–By Date written somewhere?

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

The First Chief Executive of Tata Consultancy Services, F.C. Kohli (also known as The Father of the Indian Software Industry) passed away on 26th November 2020 at age 96. When I joined TCS in 1995, right after engineering, F.C. Kohli was the CEO then. He was a taskmaster and demanded discipline as well as excellence from TCSer’s. While I had met him during my TCS days, I had the fortune of meeting him 2 years back (at his age 94) in the TCS Air India office (Nariman Point). He was wearing a crisp suit (with a tie) and was working a few hours a day. I could see that he had a busy schedule, and he was as sharp as ever. We had a lovely conversation for 90 minutes or so. He shared his journey after his MIT days, and I shared the work I was doing at Happyness Factory (making a happy difference in the lives of people). He was very happy to learn about my journey and was super impressed with Happyness Factory’s Client Experience and that we had built a Modern Wealth Management Digital Infrastructure. I could go on and on about this encounter but the purpose of sharing the above was to highlight the fact that “F.C. Kohli didn’t come with a USE BY Date and neither do WE”.

I had written a post “This is why Retirement at 45 or Retirement in general is a Lousy concept”. If you have not checked it yet, do read it to get a fresh perspective on retirement. In my 20’s and some part of 30’s, I had a different take on retirement, and I used to think that it’s smart to retire early only to realize later how naïve I was about this. We have also been trained to think that money is all you need to retire. This is the first thing that most people still think about when they think of retirement. How much money do I need? What is my number? Rarely do people think about meaning or purpose. The reality is just having money without a clear direction of what you will do in retirement is likely to cause heartburns and many return to the workforce within the first couple of years (Watch the movie: The Intern).

Ask yourself “What will I do in retirement? Why am I retiring? Is it because this is what people do? Or Is it because we have been told to retire by some age? Or Is it fashionable /cool to say I retired?”

Mitch Anthony in his book “The New Retirementality” shares some insightful points by Robert Delamontagne, PhD, Author of The Retiring Mind. Mitch writes “According to Robert – People can go through hell when they retire and they will never say a word about it, often because they are embarrassed. Delamontagne surmises the reason these people are embarrassed is because the supposed cultural norm for retirement is that you are now living the good life- if by chance, you are not, then there might be something wrong with you”. The reality is that there is nothing wrong with you if you feel so but there is definitely something wrong with the system of retirement that has been forced on people.

“Robert noted that he was surprised to find that he felt bored and aimless almost immediately after retiring from a highly competitive career as a software company executive. In his research, he found that people with certain personality characteristics like competitiveness and assertiveness had more difficulty adjusting than say, mild mannered persons who had careers in lower pressure jobs. According to Robert “The very attributes that make people successful in their work life often work against them in retirement. Pay attention to how you are wired because it’s a reliable predictor of whether you will either flourish or flounder in retirement”.

Let us say you manage to save enough, and you retire. What next? You will travel, meet friends, shop and then eventually be bored. Many after being bored become boring and then ill at a certain point of time. There are numerous studies that show that Retirement is not good for our physical, cognitive, and mental health. The reality is that we were not born to retire. It is an unnatural act. We are actually born to work (and it does not necessarily mean a job) and keep ourselves away from cognitive decline and health related issues. Before you take the decision to retire, figure out the real reason why you want to retire.

The reason many want to retire early is that they do not like what they do. So many want to escape the clutches of what they are doing by building a nest egg (a number). While it is great to build a nest egg, an even better option is to figure out things you can do for the rest of your life and not consider as work. If you cannot figure that out, it is fine. Then Love what you do or find something else to do.

I end this post from a Mitch Anthony quote that I love “The greatest decision a retiree makes is not how they invest their assets but how they invest their life”. F.C. Kohli did invest his life in a way that has impacted the lives of many people.

How are you going to Invest your Life?


P.S. Schedule your Modern HappyRich Retirement conversation with our guide or coach.