Tag Archives: retirement

What I figured out last year

6 Jan

a-tale-of-two-cities

To borrow from my favorite Charles Dickens novel, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Most bloggers probably write posts revisiting 2013, making resolutions for 2014. I thought I’d do my version of the same, but instead list out stuff that was eye opening/ confirmation of previously mildly held hypotheses/ new learnings/ breaking down of myths for me…So, here goes:

I learnt:

(On Retirement):

That it is possible to be busy without “achieving” anything
(Look at my previous blog post of outlay vs. outcome). So, being recently retired, I learnt how to make activities expand such that it fills time available.

This is by no means a phenomenon that affects homemakers (aah! I luuuvvv it when I apply this description to myself!) only – don’t we all know those colleagues/ subordinates/ even managers who procrastinate all day long doing gawd-only-knows-what, and then in the evening start looking/ being really busy, and/or calling meetings! I bet only 10ish percent of them are really overloaded – most are suffering from a time management issue.

I read a recent article in the same vein – about how an ad that goes viral doesn’t necessarily give great sales results! Click on this link for Mashable’s take on effective vs. viral ads (and a look at some of them).

A corollary of the above is the learning,

That lethargy is addictive.
(Look at another old post on habits, and hiatuses). So, not only does one have the ability to “feel busy” all the time, one can apparently do it over and over again! A tad dangerous, that!

And, finally on this topic of learnings from retirement,

That while workaholism is fun; retirement is funner.
For those gawking at me in disbelief/ or thinking wistfully “If only I could….”, here’s a good take on “giving yourself time for leisure”

(On Parenting) – since that’s the job I did do consistently both before and after retirement:

momhood

That parenting is the toughest job in the world
That u can manage thousands of people at your workplace, but, however phlegmatic you are, your pre teen/ teen WILL be able to draw out a screaming/ hysterical monster from inside you

That your children don’t really appreciate your “so called sacrifices”. Both my kids now feel it was better for them when I was at work than when I am home!

That battling the “sense of entitlement” modern day kids of reasonably-well-to-do-parents have, is a universal and perennial dilemma for the parents. I didn’t get to any answers about how to solve this – but just now read a nice take on it..may it help others like me!

That DNA is a real thing! – and really messes with lots of things.
I see kids of my friends – all bright/ super achiever type people – excelling in their chosen fields – makes me feel proud. In general, strangely, it is in inherited areas of skill – Namita writes well, Sharan paints and bakes well, Arjun and Gowri sing and play all instruments, Antara is a public speaker/ debater, Dhanya is a super sportsperson, Neel tops class in all subjects…

I also similarly see the lack of drive/ casual attitude in my kids – guess who I have to blame for it?..:(

(On modern communication/ technology etc):

That facebook newsfeed is different on phone than on PC.
Ofcourse we all know that FB has – just from a legacy perspective – been slower on mobile. But, thank god for that! I really truly don’t like the new newsfeed optimisations they are doing – where they try and show you content that is “more important/ customized” rather than new/ just being posted. So, I have a good way of getting the best of both worlds – my phone newsfeed still mainly populates newsfeed based on chronology, and that on PC, based on relevance – I just log onto both at the same time!

That Big Data is more talked about than used
But, to be fair to it, this is true of a lot of things ahead of time. Nevertheless, for all the share of mind it gets on tech related content nowadays, the actual implementation/ results are abysmal – at < 2% of all servers.

That there is no accounting for what takes peoples’ fantasies
Have any of you looked at the list of the top 10 youtube videos in 2013? (I have been making discreet enquiries amongst my kids since then about whether they have seen Miley’s wrecking ball video!)

That there is NO end to the number of things you want to read nowadays
My list of “Things to read in the day” just seems never ending – no wonder, with, even back in 2012, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being produced every day! Sometimes, I feel its better to stick to trashy romance 🙂

(On body, mind, and mind over body):

That your body does have a mind of its own
If you've abused yr body for upwards of 40 yrs, it WILL show u attitude when u start working out. Hence, the slooowwww rate of weight loss that my husband Manoj and I see despite an infinite order of multiple increase in workout time (well, when the base is zero, any increase makes it infinity!)

That alcoholism is a real disease.
I always thought it was a simple case of willpower (or lack of it) – but learnt this year that it is a real, physiological disease!

That if u have the conviction, you CAN turn around things.
Even a largely apathetic nation – look at the wonders a very very new political party, the Aam Aadmi Party in India has done already – rising from nothingness to actually form the government in the capital city in a year and a half, arousing the largely apathetic middle class intellengtsia to vote in unprecedented numbers, forcing political stalwarts to “learn from them”, and giving hope to a billion plus population!

I see similar examples in the smaller scale but still significant good deeds that our community undertakes on many levels – schools in the neighbourhood, domestic worker camps, help for the aged…

It really needs a few people to say “I want to/ I can/ I will”

That you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
I started music and guitar classes this year – and made some inroads into both. I guess it’s a question of wanting to do something badly enough, and then having no excuse to not do it 🙂 (no time/ no money/ no teacher…)

inscrutable americans

Also, unlike in Inscrutable Americans, one of my all time favourite books, people now CAN haggle in shops in America, specially in response to showrooming.

Oh btw, this article indicates that you know you’ve fully integrated your new skill when you dream about it! I HAVE to now start somehow getting myself to dream of a trim runner’s body! Kekule anyone?

Again, I think examples of this in work life abound – e.g., flexibility seen in cross functional assignments – some companies really excel in developing this value in their people by posting folks in all kinds of functions irrespective of core skill.

That left brain and right brain are real things.
I see all around me the creative/ right brain types of people – and, this creativity is really truly multifaceted. Most of these folks cook, paint, sew, design, sing-play-dance, write with consummate ease. It unfortunately doesn’t seem so for the left brain types (I may be a good case in point 😦 ).

However, recent research shows that certain things are processed across both hemispheres.

(On New Words in the English language):

That Indulgence has a new nameself gifting.
So has second thoughts: self censorship (its also called spying when done by Facebook. But, also see facebook’s denial of this!)

And, very topically, a Drynuary doesn’t really help – it’s better to have a few “off days” every week!

(On startups):

That startups can always use help
It’s just that all don’t know when/ how to ask for it. Interestingly also, help is always available to those who truly want it, ask for it and deserve it (ask Harry Potter/ Dumbledore)!

In this last year, I have met maybe a start-up a week – ranging from tech/ services/ drama/ NGO/ sports – all topics. Each and every one of them has a set of bright, passionate, talented people – desperately trying to make it big. Each and every one of them is struggling with time/ money/ people/ clients/ content/ tips whatever. Some are good at reaching out and asking for help, others have to be pretty much be forced into it. Most agree that help is always welcome 🙂

Interestingly, what I also learnt as a corollary is

That, if you’ve sold one company, you kind of are perceived as having the magic formula to crack it!.
The sad truth is that in many cases, it really is trial and error that leads to success – but ofcourse, atleast selling one company qualifies you to advise others in the field of “what not to do!”

(On life/ death and the in between):

That the world continues to be a male oriented one, with heinous crimes being committed against women on and on and on – and that I have done/ am doing nothing about it, despite now having time/ money 😦

That erstwhile people on pedestals are more bound to come crashing down than not – we’ve had so many scams – but I think the ones that personally bothered me most were, in chronological order: Satyam/ Ramalingam Raju; Shashi Tharoor, Rajat Gupta, and now Tarun Tejpal. (Sounds a bit elitist, but as I think about it – the take-aways are probably that I expect politicians to be corrupt, but not so much corporate folks 😦 – clearly not so true)

That, Marc Anthony/ Ceaser/ Brutus notwithstanding, ambition is not an endless/ infinte thing – atleast not for everyone.

(Ofcourse, I chose the Charlton Heston version 🙂 (RIP), but for those who prefer the other one, here it is..)

I am NOT saying ambition is bad – it is, after all, probably a big driver for most of our deeds and achievements. What I meant is, that I discovered, that mine has an end goal – it reminds me of my cousin Anupam telling me years ago – “I only want enough money such that I don’t have to think about it”. I realised that I am now happy with my house/ car/ friends/ and many material things – and so am not looking for the bigger/ better…I AM however ambitious for kids and family – I want them to be happy, my body – I want it to be slimmer….so, maybe, it IS infinite – only, changes direction?

That happiness is truly a state of mind

That whatever u do, death is final

(not “new learnings”, but re-inforced as never before this year), and, finally:

That it IS possible to have a place look better than its picture postcards

(The Mughal Emperor Jehangeer is said to have once written about Kashmir: Agar firdaus bar rue zamin ast hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast! – meaning if there is paradise on earth, it is here…I think New Zealand could very easily have made the cut, and far better!)

IMG_4873

So, Happy New Year All – may the odds be in your favour 🙂

The Journey or the Goal? Or, Retirement Blues? Naaahhh…

31 Jan

smell roses

I completed a month of retirement today. Halfway during this month, my co founder and ex partner Debjani asked my 7 year old daughter – “so, are you happy mama is not going to office everyday”? Achchu said – well, yes and no. Its a bit annoying because she is always on my case about home work – but I looove the fact that she’s there to snuggle upto when I get home, and that she makes awesome snacks for us – I didn’t even know she could cook!” So much for the rules by which I lived my life for the past 8 1/2 – 9 years – that Children need quality not quantity time! (And brought back to me in sad detail a time when Riddhi asked me – “when I fell down and hurt my knee, where were you?”)

Interestingly, during this month, I saw two wistful, “wish I could” type facebook updates. One from my batch mate from B School George, and another, co-incidentally (or maybe not really) from a junior from B School Shalini.

George’s update (you may have seen this before):

The Mexican Fisherman

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.
“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.
The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”
The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!
“You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
“Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?”
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!”

Shalini’s update:

“Getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for — in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house that you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it….”

At the same time I saw a mail on our community adda page that spoke about an organisation http://www.ccdc.in that conducts “Theatre of the Oppressed” – basically for education, relationships – and – retirement blues!

Huhhh? really? I googled “retirement blues” – got 8,420,000 results. Out of curiosity googled “stress management”. Guess how many? Yep, 10 times this – 85,600,000 results.

I think thats why so many of my friends are doing what used to be called “non traditional” jobs – kudos to all of you.

But, the point I am making is not so much change your job (coz many of you love what you are doing, I’m sure – and more importantly, have trained to do it well all your lives. Make no bones, I used to really like what I did too – the problem was, that was the ONLY thing I did!). But it is to really really make time to do stuff you like to do apart from work (my other co founder Shoma, while she ran the company, smartly signed herself up for vocal music classes and painted a score of paintings – she often claimed this was maybe the only thing that kept her sane!); to spend quantity – not merely quality – time with your family and friends and live your one life NOW rather than LATER! (remember the Clooney/ Pfieffer starrer One Fine Day – when in the midst of an important presentation she sees her kid making bubbles against the window?)

One_Fine_Day Melanie with a model

So, questions to which my answers changed in the last month:

Q1 Are you working?
A1 (I used to always contend that housewives work harder than “working” people do – but,) From “yeah, i run this company blah blah blah” to “Nope, Just Chillaxing”

Q2 So, how many hours do you workout?
A2 From “Workout duhh..?” to “hmm – 7 hours a week one way or the other”

Q3 What is your 2nd grader daughter doing in Math currently? What does Inventure teach?
A3 From “See, my kids are fairly independent in their studies he..he..he” (sheepish grin to hide the fact that i have NO idea!) to “5 figure into 2 figure multiplication” yayyyyyy…..

Q4 Didi, what should i make for dinner today? (asked sometimes in a bid to defer to “authority” by Tulasi, my girl friday)
A4 From “Do whatever the eff you feel like cooking – just DONT BOTHER me” to “OK, make rajma, rice, boondi rayta, julienne salad, methi sabzi” yummmmm

Q5 So, when should we meet for lunch? (My equally hard working/ perpetually harassed friends Nirupama and Asha asking their monthly question)
A5 From – “huh, lets see – traveling this week, caught up in offsite next week, have a tightish third week catching up…how abt next month 3rd Friday?” to “Hey, YOU tell me – I can do today, AND tomorrow, AND day after…(These friends have now dubbed me JJ – for jobless joshi! – should I be offended? nope, I’m LOVIN it!)

Q6 So, what do you do in the evenings typically
A6 From “Why is that even a question – calls, calls, calls, more calls, reviews, calls, reviews, calls, more calls….” to “drive kids to and from calsses, an hour of walking thrice a week, guitar class every thursday, music class every saturday, cooking sometimes”…:) jealous??

(By the way, question to which answer has NOT changed – wish it did, “how much do you weigh” 😦 )

I guess its easy to “preach” from the outside looking in; but I would exhort each and everyone of you who is really bound up in your work to the exclusion of everything else; is caught hard in the race to get the bigger house/ the bigger promotion/ the higher designation/ the bigger car/ even better grades for your kids – you have only one life to live. You owe it to yourself to live it well and be happy. The point is, the goals in your life are really really important, but the journey is really really important too. As Bruce Williamson said –

“Walk in the rain,
smell flowers,
stop along the way,
build sandcastles,
go on field trips,
find out how things work,
tell stories,
say the magic words,
trust the universe.”