On 10th September, the richest man in China, Jack Ma has announced that he is retiring.
The Chinese billionaire would step down exactly a year from now, with CEO Daniel Zhang succeeding him.
With that much power in the most valuable company in Asia (not to mention all that money), why would Ma want to give it all up and retire?
The fact is that with great power comes great responsibility (thanks Spiderman!).
Even after retiring as chief executive officer of Alibaba to become executive chairman in 2013, Ma had to put in even more hours at work than before. In an interview with CNBC on 21 June 2017, Ma mentioned that he has spent 870 hours in the air, flying to countries to push the Alibaba towards globalisation in 2016 and he says that he may be spending around 1,000 hours in the air, visiting world leaders and companies.
Working that many hours is exhausting and Ma was caught in a video, dozing off uncontrollably at a conference in January and that went viral on social media.
Ma famously said his “biggest mistake was I made Alibaba”, because of the enormous pressure and responsibility he has had to shoulder to steer the company with a net worth of $84.4 billion and more than 66,000 employees.
“If I still can have the next life, I will never do a business like this. I will be my own self; I want to enjoy my life,” he said.
Let’s look at some of the lessons we can draw from Jack Ma when it comes to planning for our own retirement.
Before you can definitively say that you want to retire you need to first visualise what is retirement to you.
Retirement could mean a million different things to different people because we all have our unique personalities and life experiences.
In his letter to employees, Jack Ma highlighted his plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership. Philanthropy is on to-do list and he plans to dedicate time to this. Ma also wants to return to education because that is what he loves to do. By giving up the massive responsibilities at Alibaba, Ma intends to try new things.
As you can see, Ma has a meaningful and purposeful retirement plan in mind.
Retirement doesn’t mean giving everything up and relaxing at the pool all day (unless that’s what you really want).
What will retirement be like to you? Are you able to visualise, articulate or verbalise what you intend to do when you retire?
Like it or not, retirement needs to be sustained by many things. In most cases, it would be money. For some, it could be specific connections, knowledge or skillsets.
Despite all the challenges faced in life, Ma worked hard and went ahead to create the most valuable company in Asia and become the richest man in China. After 20 years, he has amassed massive wealth and fame that will help him reach his vision of retirement.
While we don’t necessarily have to amass incredible amount of wealth and fame to retire, we have our own list of goals and activities to accomplish in order to achieve our vision of retirement.
Write those goals and activities down on a piece of paper or electronically on Microsoft Word. Whichever works better for you.
Now that you know what you need to achieve retirement, you can take concrete steps to complete your list.
You don’t get to retire without lots of hard work. Create a plan and start taking steps towards accomplishing your goals and objectives.
Alibaba didn’t become a multi billion company overnight. Ma brought the company to where it is today with grit, hard work and lots of sacrifices. Are you willing to make sacrifices to achieve your retirement goals?
The thing is, you don’t have achieve all your goals in one day. You just need to prioritise them one by one and decide which one to tackle first.
One of the easiest way to start is to reverse engineer your retirement vision.
Start from the age of 65 to the age that you think you will live up till, how much do you need to have in order to retire? Calculate your lifestyle needs and take action towards growing sufficient wealth to pay for that lifestyle.
What other skills do you need to achieve your retirement vision? You might want to learn how to cook your own meals or build a few skills to run a small business of your own.
Now that that’s done, how about from 55-65? How much more do you need to accumulate if you want to retire at 55?
Sorted out your needs from 55 onward? How about between 50-55. Can you squeeze a bit more effort to accumulate more wealth to cover the expense for that extra 5 years?
Depending on how early you wish to retire, you can keep planning backwards and identify tasks and activities that you need to start today to enjoy the benefits later on.
Have you started planning for your retirement? I’d love to hear about your thoughts in the comments below.