According to studies, Singaporeans, for the most part, aren’t really prepared for the day they retire. They tend to focus too much on their careers, and then are totally blindsided when they have to retire, not knowing what to do. This, in turn, may cause them to be unhappy during their retirement.
Despite being the top scorer in the world for retirement finances last year, Singapore still suffers when it comes to quality of life and well-being of retirees. People just aren’t happy with their retirement.
So, how can you feel happy during your retirement?
Wendy Wang, 70, freelance yoga instructor tells us how you can have a happy retirement.
Career and burning out
“Don’t use the word ‘retirement’. It’s dangerous. It sends across the message that everything must end,” says the yoga instructor. “You must have two or three hobbies that can keep you occupied.”
As the 11th child in her family, Wendy had to gain independence and take care of affairs at home when her parents passed away before she turned 30. She worked in the hotel industry as a housekeeper. She was promoted to a department head from being a housekeeping supervisor and offered a position in Vietnam.
However, she began to realise that she couldn’t commit her whole life to the company, and decided that it was enough.
Returning to Singapore in 1998 at the age of 48, she felt very burnt out, and found that she needed to reflect.
It would be a bad year for her, however. She became a partner in a retail shop selling art relics and tried it for six months, but gave up after business was too slow.
She eventually decided to take up a teaching diploma in yoga. She first started learning how to do yoga when she was 28, after her parents passed away.
She was seeking spirituality, and to her, she felt yoga helped her know her inner self and become very confident.
Now, she continues teaching at community centres as a freelance yoga instructor, and has been doing so since 2001. She considers herself semi-retired, and finds joy in her passion.
Worries before retirement
When she left her job in the hotel industry, she was very worried. The industry was in bad shape. The economy was reeling from the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. She was hoping that she could get another job in the same industry.
It was very hectic for her during that time. When she started to teach yoga, it was her second career. There was a shift that came to her which led her to do something totally different.
Retiring without a plan
When Wendy decided to retire, she did not have any plans. In fact, she had planned to run the business selling art relics from India. However, she found it very tiring, and while she covered the expenses of running the shop, she wasn’t earning much of a salary.
Wendy did not feel that it was worth the effort running the artefacts shop.
She decided to wind down her business after six months. For two years, she practised yoga stretches and just rested after the business was closed.
She never thought that she’d be a yoga teacher until she actually took up the teaching course, and spent three weeks learning.
Advice for others
Having been retired for nearly two decades, Wendy remains happy with her retirement. She does what she loves: Yoga.
She loves teaching yoga to seniors, most of whom are professionals. With her guidance, her students are able to improve a lot in terms of mobility. Some of them are now able to stand on their own without need for support, something they could not do before.
When she teaches yoga, she can smile and feels the joy within her. She can feel that her students are very happy, and she finds much joy in this.
Wendy has always been very involved in many sports, and does it as a hobby. Outside of sports and yoga, she also does gardening. This means that she never feels bored as she has many activities and hobbies to keep her busy and active.
Her advice to retirees feeling unhappy is to take up a new hobby, or find ways to keep doing what they love.
“You don’t look for happiness. It’s how you lead your life,” says Wendy. “It’s how you serve humanity–you live gracefully.”