Whenever “retirement” comes for me, I know it will not
be a work stoppage or a forgetting of the past but rather a
grand anticipation and embrace of what the future holds.
At the beginning of this calendar year, I received an email from my employer’s human resources department reminding me that this is the year I will hit my retirement age. Not that I needed a reminder; and not that I have not been planning for this for decades. But the email still made me stop and think.
Wow! Retirement. As cliché as it sounds, it really does seem like just yesterday that I started teaching at Stanton College Preparatory School. And whether I leave the classroom this year or in five years, there is a bigger point I have been considering for most of the previous decade: What will retirement look like for me? Besides the financial end (which is huge and will have an impact on what I write below), what will my day-to-day activities look like?
For starters, I don’t like the word retirement. At least not in the sense that it came to take on with earlier generations. Retirement always seemed like a cessation of work; sitting back and doing whatever leisure activity the retiree wanted to do. And I had heard that such a retirement—one lacking a real and sustainable purpose in life—could actually shorten lifespan. I recently heard that successful retirees chase after more than a golf ball or a secluded beach. Retirement is not the opposite of work–at least not in my eyes.
An article in The Wall Street Journal reported on a study that suggested a purposeful retirement accounted for significantly better cognitive functioning. A retiree who is a regular at my gym always says, “Motion is the lotion.” He simply means that if a person stays active, he/she will have a better chance of a more limber body and mind—one that will continue to carry him/her forward to enjoy life.
Whenever “retirement” comes for me, I know it will not be a work stoppage or a forgetting of the past but rather a grand anticipation and embrace of what the future holds. I have loved (and still do) classroom teaching. When I walk off campus for the last time, I will not be walking away from anything. All those years will have prepared me for what lies ahead. And I have been preparing for quite a while–financially, professionally, and personally. It is not something I want to consider for the first time when I wake up in the post-working world life.
A much younger colleague recently asked me, “Well, what will you do when you retire?”
Below is my shortlist of what I will do. The interesting point for me is that as I review the list, each one of those actions is something I have attempted to do during my “working years” with varying degrees of success. A retired professor told me that even though he remains busy with professional activities, retirement has allowed him the time to truly reflect on all that he has read and done during the so-called “working years.” And it has made him a more effective post-working world professional.
Life has a way of firing-hosing us over the years. The so-called retirement years provide a great opportunity to reflect and synthesize those experiences. And then give back to our community in new ways.
With that mindset, maybe we should not think about retiring. Here are a few thoughts—and I would be interested in yours as well. Consider:
- Reinvesting (beyond dollars and sense)
Make it a wonderful week— H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.