A while ago at the pub, I had a discussion with a gentleman who stopped by our table to chat. He was there for a friend’s retirement party in another room. The conversation eventually got around to the concept of forced retirement. He was quite annoyed that we are often shown the door before we are ready to leave just because we have reached the magic age. Then someone else added that some people stay longer than they should at their jobs.
It got me thinking back about my own retirement. After 32 years of teaching, I was definitely ready to leave my profession. I had had my fill of unreasonable parents, constantly changing curricula, watered down educational standards, and all the political crap that went with it, but I was only 53. Had I reached my employment expiry date? How do we know when it’s time to go?
Initially, I was excited to begin the next step, but also filled with trepidation at the thought of endless time and no place that I HAD to be. Ideas consumed every free moment. I could volunteer; I could catch up on all the reading that I never found time for; I could redecorate the old house that I had just purchased; I could travel; I could write the book that I had always wanted to write. Yes, I could do all these things and more. So why did I feel so apprehensive, so lost for direction? It took me only a few weeks to realize I was not ready to be unemployed. Even though I had a decent pension, I worried about having enough money to live my new life with so much extra time to do things.
I had spent a lifetime raising two kids, looking after a home, and getting my university degree while working full time. My life had ticked along on a tight schedule for as long as I could remember, and now all of a sudden there was no discernible routine. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and even if I wanted. I was totally unprepared for these circumstances and I was forced to take a long, hard look at myself.
So, how do we decide it is time? Sometimes that decision is made for us. An unexpected accident may take away our ability to work. As we age, our health changes. For many, they can no longer physically do their job. Occasionally, we are able to handle modified work, but this is not always an option. For me, I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I disagreed with so many of the changes happening within the school system that going to work each day was becoming frustrating. I loved working with the children, but it was not enough to sustain my interest anymore. I was beginning to feel like I was just putting in time to collect my pay and that did not sit well with me. When a colleague suggested that I retire and do supply teaching, I responded, “Hell, no!”
Well, it has been 18 years since I retired from teaching children, but I did not retire from working. About 2 months after my retirement date, I started working with a private company that retrained injured workers to start new careers. I remained with this company for 12 years until it eventually closed its doors. I also did a brief stint in retail just to ease myself into permanent retirement. I can finally say that I am just fine with my status.
Only you will know when it is time to leave the workforce. Just remember, if you feel that you made a mistake, try something new. Life is not carved in stone!
Thanks for reading,
Penny xo ♥