The Importance of Staying Challenged After Retirement

Given that Thailand has the third fastest ageing population in the world, finding the best way to retire and staying vibrant has become the talk of the town.

Many executives who are about to retire tell me how nice it will be to relax and not have to deal with office politics, stress or pressures of work. They are looking forward to free time, visiting family & friends and recreation.

But once they have done these things for a while, life begins to become boring. There is only so much golf, tennis or bowling one can do before these activities start to lose their appeal.

Moreover, the dilemma is what do you do between the times you are traveling and enjoying yourself? What do you do Monday through Friday when everyone else is at work?

The trick is to keep yourself challenged. Being challenged means having a purpose and finding meaning in what you do. It involves learning and growing mentally, physically and spiritually throughout your whole life.

“Retirement is an opportunity to do what you love to do and on your own terms,” said Kaisri Nuengsigkapian, who retired as CEO of KPMG here in Thailand in 2015. “You don’t work for money, you work because you have a purpose and can still have impact.”

Most studies on longevity confirm that stretching yourself and feeling valued is just as important in retirement as it is when you are working.

“I think working for international organizations trained me to live with purpose. I don’t want to wake up every morning and wonder, oh what am I going to do today?”

For Kaisri, this means leveraging her 13 years at KPMG and an earlier stint with Arthur Andersen to helping Thai companies create organizations that can compete globally.

“One area where I feel I can contribute is to help Thai companies globalize. This includes creating the right work environment to attract and nurture the newer generation. These younger people are looking for diverse leadership and cultures that are open to change and new ideas.”

At the same time, according to Kaisri, it is important to select opportunities that enable a person to keep learning and that fit into one’s lifestyle.

“It’s important to clarify expectations and the scope of what you want to do. This enables you to plan how much effort you need to invest, and to select things where you are continuously learning and adding value.”

Moreover, it is never too early to plan for retirement.

“Many people do not plan for retirement until they are about to retire,” said Kaisri. “But it is important think ahead and explore different groups of people, interests and activities ahead of time. If you expand your network then you can see new opportunities and others can see what you can do and how you can contribute.”


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