For the past several weeks I have eluded to “major” changes in 2019. Now that I have officially submitted my resignation, I can finally announce my retirement … for the second time.
My family doesn’t quite believe me. They just roll their eyes, nod their heads, and assume I will return to the classroom in a few months time. I can understand their skepticism. This is, after all, is my historical pattern.
The first time I retired was in 2014. That wasn’t my original plan. I had several logical reasons for retiring the following year: 2015 had a nice ring to it … it marked ten years of teaching … and fifty-five was a respectable retirement age.
However, I couldn’t ignore the persistent inner nudge.
But what will I do? I asked.
Write a quiet voice whispered.
But what will I write?
You will soon discover that answer for yourself. But first, you need to retire.
Talk about a leap of faith: so many unanswered questions!
As an Enneagram 6, I crave security. I need validation that my decision is right. I desire a healthy degree of certainty that all will work out. This scenario offered none of that.
While I did retire from the classroom, I never fully left school. I led two groups to Europe (in 2015 and 2017) … I became a member of the Board of Directors … and I returned to the classroom in 2016.
As my family noted: I don’t retire well.
But here’s the thing, I’ve learned some valuable lessons over these four years. I know the potential pitfalls of “a life of leisure” and I am better equipped to handle them. I am mentally and physically ready to fully embrace retirement for the second time:
- The first time I retired, I struggled to find my purpose. For over a decade my purpose was to teach high school English. Once I had the freedom to do what I want when I want… I floundered. I thought I had to accomplish magnanimous things (like cure cancer) to live a purpose-filled life. And nothing I did measured up.
- Now I realize self-care is as purposeful as serving others. Taking a walk through the neighborhood and reflecting on life’s blessings is a noble event. Reading a book in the middle of the day, resonating with the characters and learning a bit more about the human condition is a worthwhile task. Learning a new skill – like yoga or making pie crust – keeps my mind in shape.
- The first time I retired, I didn’t know if we would make it financially. Yes, I knew how to pinch pennies and cut out frivolous expenses, but would I regret the loss of income? And then all guilt. If it weren’t for the sacrifices of my parents, I could never afford early retirement. Did I really deserve it?
- Now I know finances will be fine. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we can live a lifestyle that brings us joy. While I still struggle with the guilt, I’m learning that Mom and Dad would want us to have financial peace. And we, in turn, are trying to pay it forward to our own children.
- The first time I retired, I had no idea what to write. And I mistakingly thought exploration was a waste of time. I thought I needed a viable idea, publish quickly and become a best-selling author. Otherwise, retirement was a failure.
- Now I realize writing is far more about the process and far less about the results. I’ve met some wonderful new writer friends who support and encourage my efforts. They help me grow in ways I never imagined. While I did publish three books (and have plans for several more) – I now know the true benefit of writing is connecting with others. Even if it just a single person through a simple blog post.
- The first time I retired, I feared the opinion of others: She is only fifty-four years old, Why should she retire and live a life of luxury? I reasoned sixty was a far more acceptable retirement age; sixty-five was even better.
- Now I realize personal peace of mind is what counts – not the opinion of others. I gave 100% of myself to raising my children. I gave 100% of myself to teaching students. And I do not regret a single minute. But it’s now okay to give some time back to me. I have enough hobbies and interests to keep me occupied for decades. Boredom is not one of my retirement fears. And I am truly blessed to have the time and the money to follow these interests with abandon.
- The first time I retired, I feared losing all friendships. Most of my relationships outside the family existed at school. Once I left school, I feared being alone. As an ISTJ, I can easily squirrel away in my nook for days at a time. I didn’t trust myself to venture outside those four walls.
- Now I know I have solid friendships. I have a few close friends who like me for me. They don’t care if I teach or not. They don’t care if I publish a book or not. We simply enjoy one another’s company. While I am still content to spend time in my nook, I am also mindful of pursuing relationships that bring joy to my life.
- The first time I retired, I thought my kids were too busy with lives of their own. We would connect for the holidays, but I wouldn’t see them much otherwise. I didn’t want to be in their way.
- Now I know what a fool I was. The grandchildren enjoy time with their Mimi. And my grown children have become great friends. Within the next six months. all of them will be living out-of-state and several hundred miles away. I do not want an academic schedule to dictate when I can or can’t visit. I will relish the opportunity to “take off” when they need me – or when I need to see them.
Obviously, I entered retirement the first time with several misconceptions. This time, however, I think I am going into this third act with a little more wisdom, a clearer direction, and a relaxed spirit.
For those of you who have already navigated these waters… what retirement lessons have you learned that might help me transition into this new lifestyle?