In this second of five columns we continue to consider how to prepare for retirement based on the book Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course. This time we will look at how things might be once you’ve been retired for a while and have enjoyed the Fair Winds and Clear Skies of those early retirement days that we referred to in the previous issue. Remember, that lovely time when you feel as though you’re on a long holiday—a feeling similar to when summer holidays are beginning and the weeks ahead are your own? Only this time, there will be no new term starting in the future and those Fair Winds and Clear Skies can suddenly turn into Stormy Weather without much warning.
Consider this, as summer comes to a close, your mind will probably return to the classroom, lesson plans, classroom setup, curriculum, supplies, class management and prospective students. Renewed and ready, your colleagues head back to the world of education, but you won’t; you’re retired, remember? Perhaps you will you breathe a sigh of relief, or maybe you’ll experience a pang when you realize you are on the outside of that going back to school scene. More likely it will be a bit of both. Many retirees report that they are happy to be retired, but nevertheless miss the routine and purpose of their employment in the field of education.
Noticing that you are feeling somewhat unsettled at the thought of not being a part of it anymore isn’t at all surprising because you’ve spent years honing your skills, educating yourself and sharing your expertise with numerous students and colleagues. Now, what are you going to do with it? Will it all just sit there unused, unwanted, neglected and worthless? Unsettling thoughts, for sure; but you will also bask in the freedom and time that retirement has brought you. Freedom and time to indulge your passion, be it golf, painting, reading, travelling, exercising or any number of things that may be a familiar activity or something brand new that you’ve chosen to explore. Then, and there is no specific timeline, one day you realize that such indulgence is slowly but definitely becoming a bit tedious, ordinary or boring and not everything you now want. More unsettling moments and doubts may follow as you begin to question what it is you want to do, what you should do, to add some colour or substance to your life.
You are not alone, and in Transition to Retirement this period is called Stormy Weather; a time in which you’ll discover the unexpected, and yourself. Unsettling, turbulent, worrying, fearsome and uncomfortable, such moments come into your newly retired life now and then, not all in one great storm; but in niggling thoughts or observations that indicate to you that all is not exactly calm in your new life.
What to do? Hang on, get a grip, and be aware that this time is providing you with a great opportunity to start thinking carefully and with insight into who you are now and what your long-range retirement and life plan might, could be. Encouraging also is that the next segment in everyone’s transition to retirement is Safe Harbour, and you will be heading there in our next column. But for now, here are some Stormy Weather questions and aids to navigation as you continue on the transition journey.
Questions and Ponderings
- What is your all consuming passion and why does it give you joy?
- When you’re retired will you consider yourself a senior?
- Which of your former work colleagues will be your friends when you retire?
- How will you introduce yourself to others once you retire?
- What if you can’t do all the things you wanted to do when you retire?
- Would going back to work seem like a failure to you?
Aids to Navigation
- Be aware, notice everything, be curious about all aspects of life.
- Acknowledge and honour your past working life, personal life, and yourself.
- Take time to explore each inner qualm.
- Consider what is valuable and important to you now as a retired person.
- Think of people who have, in your opinion, successful and fulfilling retirements.
- List your accomplishments, abilities and skills as a professional and a person.
- Imagine the type of lifestyle you want when you first retire, then consider if this vision is short term or long term.
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.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s November 2010 issue.