现在计划退休是否太迟?/ Is It Too Late to Plan Your Retirement?

现在计划退休是否太迟?

如果你还没有制定退休计划,答案恐怕是肯定的。而且无论你是年方而立,还是已然退休,结果都是一样。事实上,很多人都到为时已晚才开始筹谋退休之事。

最近,我读到一本令人脑洞大开的书——《退休气》(Smells Like Retirement),作者是美国人唐纳德•赫兹勒。他曾是抱有雄心大志的企业高管,现已退休,正和夫人在夏威夷各种享受生活。

退休和很多事一样,都有其文化和社会根基,不同国家之间很难相互套用。

但是,一本有用的书可以提出值得思考的关键问题,不管我们是身处美国的图森、中国的天津,还是马里的通布图。虽然答案可能大相径庭,但这些问题都具有一定的共性。

《退休气》在这方面表现亮眼,作者先是分享了制定退休计划的经历,随后又记录了具体的执行过程。

书中强调了退休涉及一系列相当复杂的问题,如果希望幸福走完人生这一新的旅程,需要花费很多时间去筹谋。换言之,退休不应留到最后一分钟才去计划,或者是低估它的复杂性和困难性。

毕竟,你为事业发展准备了多少年,又投入了多少精力呢?退休是继上学、上班之后的又一个人生篇章,而且应该是收获与享受的篇章——应该令我们感到欣慰而不是窘迫。

将退休视作单位不再需要你,常常会导致退休生活的悲哀与不幸。为何不将其视作可以随心所欲、学习新鲜事物、旅行、享受天伦之乐和友情的机遇呢?

就像赫兹勒在书的副标题中所说——“如何才能为一生最好的时光打造坚实的计划”。接下来,他阐述了创作该书的五大目的之一:“让人意识到退休的不平凡之处,让它成为生命中最美好的部分。”

我能想象有一部分本博的读者会认为这种态度“太外国化,和中国人的退休观差别太大。”但我认为:我们谈论的问题关乎你的切身利益,何不让它尽善尽美,哪怕需要打破一些旧的传统呢?

十多年前,当《财富》(中文版)为制作退休主题的封面故事去采访中国高管时,遇到了很多困难。似乎这个选题有些敏感,并令人尴尬。也许是因为谈论退休就意味着承认自己老了,要放弃对公司的管控和自身的权威,而这一点是不愿意让竞争对手知晓的。

越早考虑退休计划,当那一天突然降临时,受到的惊吓和感到的不快就越少。大家都听说过以前身体很健康的人(尤其是男性)一旦退休,很快就罹患重病。

像退休这样重大的人生转变会催生严重的不确定性、焦虑和压力,必然会加重精神和心理问题。

精心筹划虽然不见得能药到病除,但肯定有助于转型期的缓解。

赫兹勒提到,他很精明地从很早就开始储蓄退休金。他说金钱是大多数人退休时需要面对的最大问题,也是年轻人不该等到华发渐生才考虑退休计划的原因之一。

赫兹勒推荐的一个规划方法是思考两个简单而重要的问题:1)想在退休后得到的10件事;2)想在退休后避免的10件事。

显然每个人都会有不同的回答,即使是夫妻也不见得总是一致。这是可以想见的。

书中的其他章节还涉及第二(或第三)职业的利弊、退休居住地的选择,以及一些潜在的退休生活陷阱,比如沉溺赌博和滥用药物。

假如你还没有考虑过退休的问题,也许现在正是时候,尽管那一天仍很遥远。

Is It Too Late to Plan Your Retirement?

If you don’t already have a plan, then the answer to this question is probably “yes.” This could be true whether you are in your 30s or even if you are already retired. The fact is, most people don’t start thinking about it and planning for it until too late in the game.

I recently read a thought-provoking book called “Smells Like Retirement”, written by Donald Hurzeler, a former high-flying corporate executive. He is an American, now retired with his wife in Hawaii. They sound like they are enjoying life to the fullest.

Retirement, like a lot of things, is rooted in one’s culture and society. It’s hard to generalize about it in a way which applies from country to country.

What a useful book can do, however, is put forward some of the key questions we should be considering, whether we are in Tucson, Tianjin or Timbuktu. These questions are somewhat universal, even though the answers will differ.

“Smells Like Retirement” does a good job of this, while sharing the author’s experience in planning and then executing his retirement plan.

One message which comes across emphatically is that retirement involves a series of fairly complex issues which need plenty of time to consider, if you’re going to end up happy in this new chapter of life. In other words, it’s not something you should leave to the last minute or underestimate the complexity and challenge of.

After all, how many years and how much effort went into preparing for your career? Retirement is the chapter of life which follows education and career. It should be a rewarding and enjoyable chapter – one which we are proud of rather than embarrassed about.

The attitude that retirement is where you go after no one needs you at work anymore may well lead to a sad and unhappy retirement. Why not look at it as a chance to do things you’ve long wanted to, to learn new things, travel, and enjoy more time with family and friends?

As the sub-heading of Hurzeler’s book suggests: “How to create a rock-solid plan for the best years of your life.” In his forward, he states as one of 5 purposes of the book: “To get you thinking about a retirement that is extraordinary and that becomes the best part of your life.”

I can imagine a certain percentage of readers of this blog are thinking to themselves “That’s a very foreign attitude, different from how we Chinese see retirement.” My response to that is: it’s your retirement we’re talking about, so why not make the best of it, even if that breaks with some musty old traditions.

When FORTUNE China began doing an annual cover story on retirement more than ten years ago, we found that finding senior Chinese executives willing to be interviewed about retirement was difficult. It seemed to be a somewhat sensitive and awkward subject. Perhaps this was partly because talking about your retirement plan is conceding you are getting older and about to relinquish corporate power and privilege. Not something you want your rivals to focus on.

The less we think about retirement in advance, the more potentially scary and unpleasant it can seem when the day suddenly arrives. We’ve all heard stories about previously healthy men and women (particularly men) who crossed the retirement bridge and soon began experiencing serious illnesses.

Major life-changing transitions like retirement can create great uncertainty, anxiety and stress. That of course can exacerbate mental and physical health issues.

Careful planning is not necessarily an antidote to these problems, but it can certainly help ease the transition.

As Hurzeler relates, he was smart about getting an early start towards saving money for retirement. As he says, money is the biggest issue for most people facing retirement. This is another reason that retirement is not something young people should postpone thinking about until gray hairs appear.

One of the planning exercises Hurzeler recommends is considering two simple but important questions: 1) what 10 things do we want from retirement; and 2) what 10 things do we want to avoid in retirement?

Obviously, the answers will be different for each individual, and couples will not usually have identical ideas. That’s to be expected.

Issues dealt with in other chapters in the book include the pros and cons of a second (or third) career, deciding where you want to live in retirement, and some potential pitfalls of retirement, namely gambling addiction and substance abuse.

If you haven’t given retirement much thought, perhaps it’s time to do so, even if it’s a long way off.


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