Enough with thinking that once you retire and have been given your lump sum, all will be smooth sailing. I mean, plans on paper are so promising, and the numbers seem pretty exciting. There is a huge difference between what we indicate on paper and the results we get on the ground. Imagine the time we were in high school when the plan on paper indicated that once the degrees were attained, good salaries would come rolling in. In fact, it may seem that those who even have the biggest books at the university or college will end up with very fulfilling jobs. Everyone fights to get that Division I certificate because it is assumed that it is a one-way ticket to a good life.

The reality is so different from what you may see from the outside. “ing’anda baikumbwa umutenge,” my mother’s people say. I remember the days leading up to my retirement, when the plan on paper was well written. In fact, I had always been ready to get to these years before, such that my resignation letter was typed and placed in a compartment in my car. I had seen myself five years after retirement in a world on paper that was so advanced and all.

I was involved in a number of businesses that I treated as side hustles. On paper, I thought that now I would concentrate on these ones and grow them to be bigger and better. I think that at the time of this whole planning, the switch for the dynamics of life had been switched off.

In case you are still working, here is the picture. The lump sum is not enough, and where there are no proper systems, it will be exhausted within months from the date of getting it. The capacity to handle the package is very important. The majority of individuals, including me, would have worked for years, and would not have had the privilege to handle monies close to the lumpsum. Therefore, by the time the said amount comes their way due to the incapacity there is a lot of spillages. The concentration enroute is on how to spend and not to build capacity in order to handle what is coming.

The journey is sometimes not as smooth as planned on paper because the obstacles of life may also come into play. The misconception is that once in retirement, people become wise and can figure out their way into investments. I mean, is it not the same in other aspects of life where the quiet are regarded as being humble while the talkative are mistaken for intelligent? Retired people may at some point need advice from those around them so that even as they continue to invest or live, they do not reach unacceptable levels of poverty.

Truth be told, it is rough out here when you do not have the capacity to handle yourself very well. At the point where your personal systems are not very supportive, you will definitely be dissatisfied. Kids gloves are for those that have a roof already; meanwhile, once the shelter is closed for you, it’s time to remove the gloves and handle any discomfort or issues.

Invest in building capacity, especially when you are in active employment. Build systems that will hold you up. While it is good to enjoy the bigger systems of either the civil service or multimillion-dollar companies, a developed personal system is a sure way to stay motivated. It may start shaky and rough, but once it weathers the storms, it will be strong enough to provide refuge in times of trouble. I have held on to the small businesses for a while. They have experienced losses, and at times I have had violent incidents, but through it all, I am not the same now. Once the storm is over, I have always come out stronger than I was yesterday. Never lose heart and never lose focus when it comes to your destiny; it is just good to be a little selfish after it. I know in Africa there is a tendency to want to live to impress, whether our parents or those around us. In trying to achieve this, we tend to lose ourselves so much that we don’t get that this life is all about us because we owe it only to ourselves to achieve the one purpose we were created for.

It is not smooth. It does not usually go as planned on paper. It is sometimes rough. However, retirement is freedom and a continuation of life, so go out there and live.

The author is a retired officer of the Zambia Airforce and an Advocate. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or Whatsapp: +260 97 9165574