Retirement is not for the Squeemish. So I have a Plan.

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It's the Key to Retirement.  Get it?I think about retirement a lot. Mostly on the bad days. Almost always on Sunday evenings when I am faced with the prospect of returning to school the next morning (or running away like a frightened little girl… up to this point I have always chosen to return to school… stay tuned for further updates).

At this point in my career, retirement seems like a wonderful idea. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (this is my first, and most likely my last, rainbow reference).

Sadly, I am a long way from my retirement years. I know this for a fact because the countdown to my retirement is on the front of (this is what I like to call a gratuitous plug).

When I first began my administrative career, a wise old superintendent told me that the idea of retirement was a grand one… when you are young and just beginning your career in education.

He believed that when a teacher or administrator inched closer to retirement, the idea loses some of its luster.

When faced with the actual prospect of retirement, people become uneasy with the idea of this huge change to their lives.

As I get older (and older and older…), I am starting to recognize this as being true.

The thought of giving up my job and never working again crosses my mind occasionally (by occasionally, I mean every 12 minutes), but I really am starting to recognize the wisdom of that old superintendent.

Each year I have the pleasure of seeing one or two staff members enter into retirement.

What I have found to be true with each of these employees is that they are extremely nervous as they enter into this next phase of their lives.

Some are excited. Some are scared. Most are both excited and scared. None of them know for sure if they will be any good at retirement.

They are leaving a school, a staff, and a routine that has been part of their lives for over 30 years. And they are faced with some difficult questions.

They are faced with the idea of redefining themselves. For years they have been part of the school culture and this will no longer be true (at least on a day to day basis…lucky dogs).

As they head into another phase of their lives they are also faced with possible financial and health issues.

But mostly, for the first time in several decades they must deal with the unknown. No school starting in August. No school calendar to follow. No bell will ring when it is time for lunch.

I can envision this being a huge challenge. Let’s face it, retirement and the decisions that come with it add a tremendous amount of pressure to older employee’s lives.

But lucky for them, I have a solution to this problem.

I am proposing that we begin to live our professional lives backwards.

From the age of 22 to 35 should be the retirement years. The true Golden Years if you will.

The government picks up the tab and we will have the good health and energy to enjoy all of this free time.

Golf every day, when we can still hit the ball (and see it). Time to volunteer and help others. Most importantly, lots of free time to nap and eat supper at 4:30 in the afternoon.

On our 35th birthday, everyone would be required to start their careers. People would have the wisdom and experience to be better employees after enjoying 13 years of retirement.

As teachers, we would have a wealth of knowledge to share with students.

From that point on, everyone would be required to work for the rest of their lives. No difficult retirement decision in your late 50’s or 60’s. No awkward feelings about being unwanted and underappreciated as you head into the golden years.

Work until…. well you get the point.

This idea may be just crazy enough to work. I believe that young people would be willing to make this sacrifice.

That is the good news. The bad news is that I wish I had thought of this when I was 22.

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7 Responses to “Retirement is not for the Squeemish. So I have a Plan.”

  1. The Principal-guy
    on Mar 26th, 2008
    @ 6:42 pm

    Hi – I enjoyed your post. However, I must profess that after 30+ years in education and completing my 13th as Principal, retirement doesn’t sound too bad. There are many things about the kids & education that I will miss when I retire. There are several aspects of being a building manager, psychologist, family therapist,law enforcer and supply clerk that I won’t! The job of Principal has changed a great deal in the last few years.

  2. Pat
    on Mar 28th, 2008
    @ 6:54 am

    Even though I wasn’t an administrator, I recently retired after 27 years in special ed and it is wonderful! My husband wants to travel while we are young enough and healthy enough to travel. I had conflicting emotions about leaving the only career that I ever had. I have contracted with the school district to do teacher evaluations and I am now teaching in the summer on the college level to teachers getting their master’s degree in special ed. I think there are so many other ways that we can use retired educators in the schools that it could be a win-win situation for both. I even wrote a post about it: I enjoyed your post too and when it is time, I hope you will enjoy retirement as much as I am!

  3. The Blog
    on Apr 17th, 2008
    @ 2:18 pm

    This week I had the opportunity to visit with a retired principal. The fact that he made it to retirement gives me hope. And makes me a little jealous.

    He has survived an entire career of board meetings, parent concerns, athletic issues, graduations,

  4. Russ
    on Apr 20th, 2008
    @ 9:20 pm

    It is Sunday night and reading this blog just made me laugh. I too will not run away like a little girl and will show up tomorrow and deal with things. (although the little girl running away idea does have its allure) Thanks for making me laugh. I needed it.

  5. Discipline Isn’t What You Do to a Student, but What You Do for Them. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Jul 19th, 2009
    @ 8:48 am

    [...] week I had the opportunity to visit with a retired principal. The fact that he made it to retirement gives me hope. And makes me a little [...]

  6. School Teaches You That There are 3 Types of People. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Jul 20th, 2009
    @ 6:49 am

    [...] can count on some teacher turnover, student transfers, and there will be long-term employees who will retire or move on (to new jobs people… shame on you for thinking the [...]

  7. Rita
    on Jun 13th, 2010
    @ 9:41 pm

    Hi: I just announced my retirement about 2 weeks ago. [May, 2010] This is my third career. I had worked as a group insurance underewriter for a major insurance company; then worked another ten years as a realtor; just completed 19 years as an educator (computer/technology). Many vast changes are occuring in education; our district will begin a consolidation plan beginning 2011. The horizon looks unsettled. While it would be great “just teaching”. I allowed the position to expand beyond just teaching.
    I’m tired. After several tests, the reports are positive, so I”m healthy and ready to travel the world before I check out.

    My suggestion: live below your means; fund an annuity and retire young while you can enjoy each day. I will not be bored!

    Yes, I will leave positive relationships, but I believe true friendships will endure. Those are the ones I want to keep anyway. I’m excited and ready to take on the challenges!

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