Everyone is concerned about how much money they will need to retire. While that is important, its not the first question you need to ask yourself.
The first question to consider 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?
In helping people successfully manage their careers at all points in their career journey, the first thing we talk about 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 your future. 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 peoples lists. Playing golf, for example, might be in your future. Think about what is fulfilling to you about golf. Is it the friendships, being in nature, or the challenge of improving your score?
The goals and values that made you a successful educator wont change when the school bell stops ringing. Your penchant for organization and follow-through wont be replaced by a new wild and crazy" persona. You still will be the caring, inquisitive individual you have always been.
Here are some strategies you can use to have a more successful retirement/reinvention:
Planning for retirement -- and reinventing your future -- starts today. 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.