After all those years…..

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Features...

Everyone is concerned about how much money they will receive when they retire. While that question is important, it’s not the first question you need to ask yourself.

The first question to consider, according to Gordon Neufeld is “ What am I going to do with the time?” How much time do you currently spend teaching, preparing, grading, coaching, and commuting, as well as doing all the other activities you currently associate with school? 60 to 80 hours a week? When classes come to an end, that time will still exist. Will you be able to fill the hours with meaningful, fulfilling relationships and activities year-round for the next twenty or thirty years?

To become successful in this point of journey in life, the first thing we need to consider is, how did you get to this point? What are your values? What are your strengths? What do you find fulfilling and possible?” Although your circumstances are going to change with retirement, your values, strengths and sources of fulfillment will not.

Fulfillment is key when considering our future. According to some scholars, take a piece of paper and write down a list of those things you find fulfilling, meaningful, and fun. Sports, visiting friends and family, spending time with the grandchildren, fixing things, reading, gardening, and traveling are on many people’s lists. Church services, for example, might be in your future lists. Think about if this activity  is fulfilling to you. Is it the friendships, being in nature, or the challenge of improving your score? The choice is yours

The goals and values that made you a successful educator won’t change when the school bell stops ringing. Your strong inclination for organization and follow-through won’t be replaced by a new wild and crazy” persona. You still will be the caring, inquisitive individual you have always been.

Gordon Neufeld suggested some strategies you can use to have a more successful retirement/reinvention:

  • If you like routine, think about building a routine that suits your new circumstances.
  • Involve your partner. What are your shared goals? What do your individual wish lists look like? Do they intersect? What are your friends and colleagues thinking?
  • What are you good at? What are your strengths? How can you use those strengths to reinvent your future?
  • Take small steps. Dont commit to big changes or projects for the first six months.
  • Think about where you want to be three years in the future.
  • Practice. If you think you want to reinvent yourself at your summer cottage, spend more than a couple of weeks there to better assess what it will be like full time. If you want to travel, take short trips and learn about your travel style.

You can start today planning for retirement  and reinventing your future. It will be a new chapter for exploring and enjoying; it can be a wonderful and successful continuation of a great life. By asking the right questions ahead of time, you can create for yourself a fulfilling and rewarding future.

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