All the world’s a stage” is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” . The speech compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and documents the seven stages of a man’s life  –  Baby or infant, School boy or child, Lover, Soldier, Justice or judge, Old man , Extreme old age facing imminent death – again like a child

In Hinduism, human life is believed to comprise four stages. These are called “ashramas” and every man should ideally go through each of these stages:

The First Ashrama – “Brahmacharya” or the Student Stage
The Second Ashrama – “Grihastha” or the Householder Stage
The Third Ashrama – “Vanaprastha” or the Hermit Stage
The Fourth Ashrama – “Sannyasa” or the Wandering Ascetic Stage

So where do I stand after 25 years of work – knocking at age 48 – I clearly crossed the Shakespearean Soldier Phase – but I am not ready to call myself an “Old Man” – so I guess I fall in the Justice or Judge phase as per Shakespeare , and after 20 years of marriage I am probably 80% into the Grihasta Stage.

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I took the bold step and retired last week. A lovely career of 25 years of which 23 were spent in 3 great companies – Wipro, Sun & Apple. We are a lucky generation – my career started in 1992 when PM Narasimha Rao started the economic liberalisation ( Note I give credit to PVN and not Mr Singh)   – and I rode many waves – The PC wave , Mini Computer , S/W Outsourcing , Telecom , BPO  and finally the  Smart Phone wave. When we started our career telex and fax were the mode of communication – there was no email – a lot has changed in 25 years.

A big decision and the 3 questions that my friends and well wishers are asking me

  1. Why Retire ? Cant the good times continue
  2. How did you pull the plug – How much is enough to retire ?
  3. What will you do post retirement ?

For most people it is difficult to walk away from a Great Job in one of the worlds greatest company – Good salary , Great RSU’s , Great perks , 5 Star Lifestyle – yet I did it. its been 3 months since I put in my resignation and I have not had a single days regret.

  1. Why Retire ? Cant the good times continue

Corporate Life is at the cross roads – 9 out of 10 professionals I have met over the age of 45 don’t enjoy their job. They live pay check to pay check , RSU to RSU – worried about the future.

Over the last 25 years (1300 weeks) – I would have travelled for 1000 weeks – over 2000 flights and 3000 room nights in hotels. Wake up at 4AM for the early morning flight , reach home after midnight , skip meals regularly , over eat, eat unhealthy food, don’t exercise ….. all of this takes a toll and damages the body. The body gives you signals – I read the signal and said stop –  most don’t. They continue with their stress and depression and very soon land up in a hospital bed with a serious ailment

I can be categoric in saying that in India there is NO WORK LIFE BALANCE in the IT / Consumer Electronics industry . Best in class Indian Corporation or MNC our work culture sucks. (Maybe Manufacturing – Govt jobs are an exception)

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2. How did you pull the plug – How much is enough to retire ?

There are 3 Things that make you chug along in your Corporate Job

  • The need for Financial Security
  • Your Ego – Power , Growth , Peer Pressure , Bigger Job , Fancier Designation ….
  • Greed – Bigger Cars, Bigger House, Fancy Holidays , Want the best for me & my family …

(And then there are those rare 1% who found their calling and are immersed in their jobs )

The need for Financial security is basic. It would be stupid to quit if you have not planned and provided for the long life ahead – keeping in mind the inflationary trends.

There are 4 seeds that you need to sow to manage your post retirement era – lets call them 4 Buckets

Bucket 1  : Security  – Gives you Tax Free Interest income  7 – 9 % with which you can maintain your lifestyle and run your monthly household without cutting any strings

Bucket 2 : Growth – Investments in Stocks / MF that could potentially give you 12 – 18 % Returns , let this grow cumulatively.

Bucket 3 : Debt Free House to stay in and one as a backup for Rent / Investment

Bucket 4 :  Investments in Govt Securities like LIC / PPF that you can add on to Bucket 1 at a later stage to manage inflation.

If you planned this over the last 10 years ( Our generation started at a salary of Rs 3000 in 1992 so year 20 – 25 of your career is crucial to maximise investments) – then you should be in a good place.

Coming down to Ego & Greed – this is the tough one to solve. If you have developed a spiritual side and a sense of contentment you can pull the plug – else its your destiny . Most people my age reading this blog will have enough for their needs but not for their greed. Nobody but you can help solve this – its about introspection and prioritising what you want to do in life

3. What will you do post retirement? 

This one is easy – there is so much to do – we all have a long list of things we have wanted to do. Corporate life gives you 18 – 20 days off a year – almost all of that goes in family holidays / functions etc. The concept of sabbatical or extended time off is rare in India companies – even if it exists few take the risk of encashing it as there is the fear of what will happen to my job if I come back after 6 months ?

To fix 25 years of misuse to the body requires a lot of effort – I am going to invest 3 hrs a day on Yoga / Meditation / Increase self awareness / Gym. Perfect your asanas , go deeper in whatever you do . That is Priority no – 1

Fix my lifestyle – eat healthy – eat timely – plan your meals – cook some of them – have a fruit diet once a week – fast once a month. Read up on how to be healthy – Thats Priority no – 2

Do all that you wanted to do – Go for a 10 day meditation camp , visit a Ashram , spend time reading a book by a riverside in a quaint mountain, Trek the mountains , go to Mansarovar  , find a place where you can play TT , visit the offbeat locations near home , travel by a Bus , watch a movie on a week day at PVR (you can’t watch one on the weekend), nap in the afternoon …… There is no dearth of what one can do

Spend time at home –  be with the kids – understand what is their in their school books  (till now thats been 100% wife responsibility) – spend time with family ….

Find your passion – we did what was mandated by society – studied engineering , joined a good corporate job, bought houses , saved money, went to the standard holiday places … life was good but it was predictable … in the journey we forgot what was our passion

Read , meet new people , connect , flow like a river , talk less , observe more , be more self aware

Try and give back something to society – be thankful for all that we have been showered with

Most importantly sit back and enjoy the simple things in life – when was the last time you tasted your cup of tea and felt the flavour  Vs gulping it down, took a relaxed shower and felt the water on your skin , sat in the balcony as the world hurried by and heard the bird chirping and singing … its all there around us  – we never have the time to sit back and enjoy.

Like Newton said

I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

There is so much to do – how many of us know what Dy/Dx and Integral Calculus means – we mugged and passed ? Learn a language / learn an Instrument / Go back and understand better what you rushed by – there is no pressure , no exam , nothing to prove to anyone – you learn for yourself and that will be an interesting journey. The internet is an ocean of knowledge – a fast high speed Internet is all you need. Every day pick one topic on which you want to dig a little deeper.

I haven’t planned it out – my dream is to flow like a river . the River is amazing – its just keeps flowing , stops and crosses a boulder , changes direction if the blockage is large , flows fast , flows slow, it has energy , it is constantly moving. It lives in the present. All that the great masters taught is visible in Nature – in the river , in the seas , in the mountain – there is so much energy in nature.

So what will I Miss ? 

A lot – to start with the security and the comfort of the monthly pay check and the 6 monthly RSU. The Lifestyle at the Hyatt / Sheraton / Taj – the upgrades and the free nights. Free Wi Fi,  Free Breakfast ….

The Platinum status with the airlines – no Q, getting your luggage first off the block

The Chauffeured car waiting to pick you with your name tag

The great office infrastructure – high speed networks , printers , iPhone being upgraded every year, large display , dual screens….

The rushed Veggie shopping from Parle East Market – on the way back to the airport at Mumbai, the authentic street food Vada Pav & Pav Bhaji.

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And most importantly the few good folks with whom I have enjoyed working over the years – you meet thousands but there are those handful of what I call ” A few good people” who touched you and made a deep impact.

And what will I gain ? 

  • Time – the watch will no longer be my boss,
  • A stress free life – No corporate politics , no late night presentations
  • Maybe Discover my hidden Passion

and I hope the River finds its course and keeps moving gurgling with joy and happiness

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