Retirement and Beyond in the Middle East
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Q. What advice do you have for a 50+ professional who has spent thirty odd years in the corporate world and is looking to retire? The prospect of retiring does seem appealing, but the boredom of doing nothing does scare me. Any advice for navigating this phase? – Ahmad H.
A. Hi Ahmad! Retirement is but a natural evolution for a typical career path, and one of the most significant life transitions. Data from our recent Bayt.com ‘Career Aspirations in the MENA‘ survey, November 2013, shows that nearly half of the surveyed working professionals in the region would want to retire by the age of 60, and at least one in ten (in the below 40 age group) would want to retire by the age of 50.
While younger age group (18-29) are more likely to prioritize a successful career, our research data shows that the older age group (40+) prioritize financial stability, good health and living a stress-free life.
It is clear that there is a link between the age of respondents and their priorities, with more of the older age groups prioritizing spending time with their family during their ‘golden years’.
Keeping that in mind, below are some general pointers and suggestions that can help navigate your life ahead of retirement:
1. Your financial plan
Four in 10 (36%) professionals in MENA save none of their monthly personal income, and three in 10 professionals (29%) save more than 15% of their monthly personal income (The Bayt.com MENA Salary Survey – May 2013). If you are nearing retirement age, you should have secured yourself a nest-egg of savings. If your organization has a gratuity scheme in place, you can also look forward to a decent payout upon retirement.
2. Taking care of your health
Nothing emphasizes the importance of this point better than the age-old adage ‘health is wealth’. It goes without saying that taking care of your health should not be an after-thought brought about by your retirement phase, but should be a habit inculcated early on in life. In your 60s and beyond, continue with your regular physical activities such as brisk walking, stretching and running, and reap its benefits. Survey results among professionals in the region indicate that 75% of the respondents claim they are in good health (The Bayt.com ‘Happiness and Wellbeing in the MENA‘ survey, July 2013). The same survey also indicates that among those who say they currently have health issues, 45% say they suffer from stress-related diseases, such as depression, anxiety, etc. If you are susceptible to these issues, then it’s a good idea to seek help from a counselor or join a support group.
3. Volunteering your time and expertise
There is no reason why the retirement phase of your life should be less active than your working phase. By volunteering your time and expertise to a worthwhile cause that you are passionate about, you can make sure this experience is rewarding and satisfying to you. The Bayt.com ‘CSR in the MENA‘ poll, August 2013, indicates that people in the region have a natural inclination towards community service – 95% want to engage in more community service work, while 73% prefer to give time and effort towards charitable causes rather than merely donating money.
With the right attitude and preparation you should sail well into this phase of your life. As this quote by Catherine Pulsifer goes: “Retirement may be an ending, a closing – but it is also a new beginning…”
Are you a retired professional? Share your advice on navigating these ‘golden years’ in our comments section below.