In the previous two issues, we met retired educators Margrid, Vicki, William, Lori, Caroline, Alan, Emma and Terry who openly shared their experiences and thoughts on what they expected before retiring from their work in education and then afterwards. We appreciated their frankness in responding to the questionnaire we asked them to complete with a view to sharing the information with you.
We now know that they came to retirement with a variety of emotions ranging from elation and anticipation to trepidation. Life as a retiree after a job in education turned out to be either just what was expected or full of surprises with both pleasing and unsettling aspects. Eventually they all hit their personal retirement stride, embarking on lives as different from each other’s as it is possible to be, from recapturing the thrill of teaching in the classroom to running a small business.
Educators to the core, our eight interviewees frankly and openly shared their retirement experiences expressly to help those of you who are looking at life beyond the schoolroom. So finally, here are a few valuable insights from them to you as we close this series of “up close and personal” retirement reflections, courtesy of some of your former colleagues.
We again offer our sincere thanks to our respondents for their willingness to share and for the openness of their responses. We hope you have found this series of articles useful as you look to the future, when retirement will be on your horizon.
Retirement Tips and Words of Wisdom
• Make sure you have a good pension plan.
• Do more physical activity and watch what you eat.
• Do not be afraid to try new things and always be prepared to help your fellow human beings especially the less fortunate.
• See retirement as an opportunity to explore your own passions and discover your inner self, your creative powers, develop new friendships and spend time with family and friends you want to spend time with.
• Watch you don’t fall into someone else’s retirement expectations— it’s your life—do what is right for you.
• Expect to be busy, happy, make new friends and acquaintances unrelated to the kind of work you did before.
• Look out for those who think you are retired and have nothing to do so they expect you to be available to volunteer for just about everything, anytime, anywhere, including driving, fund-raising, running clubs, etc.
• Avoid making significant commitments for at least a year after retiring so as not to fall into old patterns or unwanted obligations.
• The first two months, if you retire at the end of June, are like summer holidays. Being retired will be more apparent on the first day of school in September.
• Don’t feel you have to fill up all those new hours, if you want to do nothing then do so.
• Your pension may be good to great, but costs rise on everything from gas to food, so be aware.
• Try to have your mortgage paid off and your retirement appliances, furniture and car purchased before you retire.
• If married, keep two cars.
• Never stop learning. Knowledge is the key to understanding ourselves and others and this crazy world we live in.
• Establish routines. When I was teaching, established routines just came easy for me because there was so little time to do things I just did them when I could and that was usually the same time every week. When I retired I had no routines and things got done randomly. I now know that I have to make a plan or I’ll be grocery shopping every other day, doing the washing every day or cleaning the house sometimes once a week, sometimes twice a week, or sometimes once every 2 weeks. I need a schedule to follow.
• Stay active. It’s so important to stay involved and active and it’s equally important to have friends, family and loved ones to do things with.
• We all need to have things to look forward to and to do. It is important to have hopes and dreams.
• Look after yourself…stay fit and eat right. Nourish your mind, body and soul with healthy foods, exercise and meditation. Cherish your health.
• Be positive and surround yourself with positive people. Maintain a happy outlook on life.
• Retire sooner—you don’t need as much money as you think.
• Do something that totally absorbs you in the first few months such as a big trip, visiting or delving into a hobby.
• Cultivate friendships that do not involve your working life.
• Try to find a part-time job doing something you enjoy, not just for the money. I work 15 – 20 hours per week at Enterprise Car Rentals as a driver and I look forward to going to work, something I hadn’t done for a while.
• Eat regular, nutritious meals.
• Force yourself to do something to keep physically active and healthy. Try to avoid sitting around too much. As an example, my wife and I share a paper route that forces us to walk.
• Do something to nurture your spiritual self whether it be reading or religious or artistic experiences or activities.
• Retirement was not really my choice but encouraged because of the situation. I did not realize how stressful my job was nor how stressed I was until I had been away from the job for a few months. Health issues that were starting to rear an ugly head had affected me without my knowledge. High blood pressure, headaches, muscle aches, clenched jaws and lack of sleep were signs that I had accepted. Thank goodness my husband realized what was happening and knew after 30 years it was time to move on to new adventures. I am so glad I did!
• Since retiring about 16 months ago, I went through a period of doing relatively little for about 6 or 7 months to being involved in many things, almost to the point of being too busy over the last 7 or 8 months. I much prefer the latter lifestyle as it is closer to what I’ve been used to, but without the added stresses of full-time teaching, and as a result, life is much more enjoyable.
• Retirement: I love it! As Cyndi Lauper said way back in the 80s – “girls just want to have fun” and that is what I’m doing.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Enise Olding and Carol Baird-Krul
Carol and Enise are the creators of a series of pre-retirement and post-retirement planning workshops: Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course©, Recently Retired: Charting a New Course© and Ideas … Enhanced and Advanced©, and authors of Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course. Previous articles on retirement may be viewed in back issues at www.CanadianTeacherMagazine.com.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s March 2009 issue.