Forum: Retirement is a milestone and the start of life's new chapter

I retired at age 63, having worked for some 37 years, more than half of that in senior management. I then wrote a book on retirement, titled Retirement - A Bad Word?.

In his letter published on Thursday, Mr Liew Mun Leong said retirement at a predetermined age is an outdated concept ('Silver-haired' talents can still contribute, Aug 12).

I consider it a useful milestone for determining what one wishes to do for the rest of one's life, having worked for some two-thirds of it thus far.

Working is a means to an end. But the end means different things to different people.

For most people, the end means earning a decent living, ensuring a comfortable life for themselves and their families, giving their children a good education so that they can be financially independent, and accumulating sufficient retirement savings for a meaningful and fulfilling retirement.

For others, especially those in senior and top management, the end is about enjoying power, status, recognition, connection, an expense account, business-class travel, a company car with a driver, a secretary, and a large, well-equipped office.

A business card is essential to them for self-esteem, self-importance and a feeling of relevance.

They do not relish waking up in the morning after retiring to discover that all these trappings are gone. It can be very daunting.

I consider it a luxury for companies to be able to employ "silver hairs" - men of retirement age - and put them in specially created leadership positions.

In reality, how many organisations can afford this?

Training, grooming and developing young talent must be an integral part of an organisation's manpower and succession planning strategy, with knowledge and expertise imparted by the incumbent senior executives.

Retirement is the beginning of life's golden chapter, the phase of life when we have more time to pursue our hobbies, fulfil our bucket list and whatever else we desire at our own time and pace, free from the shackles of working life.

Assuming we retire at 62, the minimum retirement age, and live to 80, we are likely to have fewer than 18 years to enjoy our retirement, given some unproductive years owing to illness, debilitation, reduced cognitive ability and other age-related problems.

It is important to understand that retirement means retiring from work, not from life.

It is an entitlement and a privilege, and we should not forgo the entitlement and squander the privilege.

And working until ill health or death beckons is certainly not an attractive proposition.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

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