Sunday, March 13, 2016

How to Enjoy “Doing Nothing”

When I retired from the Navy many years ago – I made a Resolution.

No stressful “deadlines” for me.

I will “do nothing” – and I will do it at my own comfortable pace.

So, no deadlines for “doing nothing”.

Ever since I retired more than 4 years ago I am “doing nothing”.

“Retirement” means “Doing Nothing”.

It is difficult to “do nothing” – but I am improving day by day at “doing nothing”.

This year I will continue my endeavor to further fine tune the practice of “doing nothing and master the art of retirement. 

A few days ago, at a get-together, I met a few of my erstwhile colleagues – all retired military veterans – mostly from the Navy – a few from the Army and Air Force.

Frankly speaking, like me, all of them were “doing nothing” after their retirement.

However, unlike me, they seemed embarrassed to say that they were “doing nothing” (especially before civilians).

So they tried to put on a pretense as if they were very busy and masquerade as if they are doing something very important work after retirement (most of them claimed to be consultants”) and some were generously dishing out their impressive visiting cards to everyone - to even those who did not want them.

Why don’t military veterans realize that, as far as the civilian world is concerned, we retired faujis are good-for-nothing and the best way to enjoy your retirement is by “doing nothing”.

So, especially for my fellow veteran comrades-in-arms, I am posting, once more, an abridged and revised version of this article I had written 3 years ago titled: 

May you enjoy your life “doing nothing”

A Guide for Veteran Military Officers of the Army Navy and Air Force

“Why are you doing nothing after retirement?” 

This is the quintessential question everyone asks me. 

And I had truthfully answer: “Nothing. I am doing nothing.”

This answer leads to the admonishment: “Why are you doing nothing after retirement?”

I retired on superannuation from the Navy around 6 years ago and since then I am leading a truly retired life “doing nothing”.

Yes, I am “doing nothing”. 

But isn’t that what I am supposed to do?

Tell me, what is the definition and meaning of retirement?

“Retirement” means “Doing Nothing” – isn’t it?

Many don’t seem to understand this. 

So whenever I meet my erstwhile colleagues, and young officers too, they all ask me what I am doing after my retirement and they seem perplexed when I honestly answer that I am “doing nothing” after my retirement.

Of course, many of my retired colleagues are actually doing nothing, but they try to put on a pretence as if they are very busy and try to masquerade as if they are doing something very important after retirement. 

Maybe they indulge in this charade as they feel embarrassed to speak the truth and think they will lose face if they truthfully say that they are doing nothing.


Now let me talk a bit about the topic – RETIREMENT and discuss some tips on retirement for Military Officers belonging to the Army, Navy and Air Force.

In most jobs you retire at the age of 60.

Sometimes the retirement age is 65 or 70 if you are a Professor or a Judge or you are a Bureaucrat who has managed to get an “extension” or a cushy post retirement job.

In some vocations, like business and politics, you never retire and keep on working incessantly till your death.

However, if you happen to serve in the defence services, in the army, navy or air force, you retire early. 

If you are an officer, it is most likely you will retire on superannuation at the age of 54 – a few lucky ones may pull on to 56.

Only those who attain Flag Rank (and become Generals, Admirals or Air Marshals) can remain in service beyond that age and retire at 58 or 60 like their civilian counterparts. 

However, owing to the steep pyramidal hierarchical organisational structure a very small percentage get promoted to flag rank.

In the civil services you have Assured Career Progression or ACP.

In the defence services, owing to the poor career prospects due to the high possibility of supersession and consequent early retirement, you have Assured Career Truncation or ACT.

I do not have the exact figures but from what I have observed it looks like hardly 1% of the officers who join finally get promoted to flag rank whereas in the civil services almost everyone becomes a Joint Secretary (equivalent to flag rank) before he or she retires.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen retire much earlier – most retire after 15 years service at the prime of their life, in their mid thirties at around 35 years of age. 

It is not feasible to “settle” your children and complete your familial responsibilities at this young age, so they have no choice and have to take up a second career in the “civvy street”.

Officers are caught midway. 

If you want to truly “retire” on your superannuation date, then you must ensure that all your domestic commitments and familial obligations are complete well before you are 54 years of age.  

You must have your own “retirement home” to live in and you must have enough savings to lead a decent retired life in these days of burgeoning inflation. 

And of course, most importantly, your children should have completed their studies and must be settled in life.

If you can achieve all this before you retire, then you can indulge in the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement and lead a truly blissful retired life.

If you are in the Navy (or Army or Air Force) it is best not to marry

If you are a bachelor you will be well looked after by the service

But if you do want to get married, please marry early and have all your children as early as possible.

Calculating backwards, all your children must be settled in life by the time you reach the retirement age of 54.

This means that you must have all your kids before you reach the age of 30 (assuming that your youngest kid will complete his or her education and get a job by the age of 24).

This is the best case optimistic scenario assuming that your children study well and are good at academics.

So you must get married at the stipulated age of 25 (or even earlier if possible). 

Yes, Army Navy and Air Force Officers must get married as early as possible

And they must have all their children as early as possible too.

Remember that for every child you have after you are 30 you are putting pressure on your retired life and you may not be able to afford the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement.

Some officers marry late or have children late in life. 

I have seen a situation where children were still in school when an officer retired at the age of 54. 

The poor guy had no choice but to take up a job and spend many years of his retired life slogging it out in the “civvy street”.

Of course, if you are married to a “career woman” then it is really great.

You can enjoy your retirement “doing nothing” while your “breadwinner” wife “brings home the bacon” and “puts bread on the table” to speak metaphorically.

In this respect, Lady Officers are luckier. 

At least in the contemporary societal context in India where the concept of a “homemaker husband” is yet to take root, a lady officer is likely to be married to a “career man” and has the luxury of choosing when to “retire” and start “doing nothing”

It makes sense for lady officers of the army navy and air force to marry civilians who will keep working till 60. 

Of course, even for gentlemen military officer who choose to marry a career woman, it is better to marry someone outside the military profession, at least from the retirement point of view. 

The moral of the story is that military officers are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts as far as retirement age is concerned.

If you are a civilian you will retire at 60, or later, and by that age all your familial commitments are likely to be over and you can look forward to a blissful retired life with a higher pension too, due to the additional years of service you enjoy vis-à-vis your disadvantaged military counterpart.

There is great advantage for a military service officer to marry a civil services (IAS, IPS, IRS etc) lady officer so that he can continue to enjoy benefits and perks of his spouse for a number of years after his own retirement.

Dear Reader, if you are a military officer, or are planning to join the army, navy or air force, remember that you are going to retire early.

It will be good if you can plan your life accordingly so that you can enjoy the indulgence of “doing nothing” after your retirement.

And when people have the audacity to ask you the quintessential question: “What are you doing after retirement?” 

You can nonchalantly, truthfully and matter-of-factly say: “I am doing nothing”.



There are some retired officers who are “financially secure” and who have completed all their familial obligations.

They can easily make ends meet within their pension.

But they continue to work even after retirement.

Why is this? 

Why do financially secure retired officers, who do not financially need to work to earn money, continue to work after retirement?

I feel that there are 3 reasons why financially secure military veterans keep working after retirement:

1. They are workaholics and are incapable of “doing nothing”.

2. They are greedy and do not know when to say “enough is enough” as far as money is concerned. They are never happy with whatever material possessions they have got.

3. They are not content with what they have achieved in life and want to keep chasing elusive dreams and keep aspiring for more and more “success”. These persons are forever in the rat race constantly comparing with others and either they have unrealistic expectations of themselves or they suffer from an “inferiority complex”.


The conclusion from this afterthought is:

To be able to “do nothing” after retirement you must be happy wherever you are and you must be content with whatever you have got.

Wish You a Happy Retired Life “Doing Nothing”.

Let Every Day of your Retired Life be a Blissful Holiday.


In fact  you can start “Doing Nothing” right now – and “retire” even while “working”.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This is based on my personal experience. It may or may not work for you. So please do due diligence before trying out this technique.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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