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Les Potter received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years in school administration and educational leadership including: Assistant to the Superintendent (...
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Retiring - This Will Happen To All Of Us Sooner Or Later

I have been blessed to retire twice, once in the USA and the last time in Egypt after 51 plus years in education.

I have a couple of suggestions for you. Check your financial status with your school or state retirement system, review your retirement savings and investment, find out when would be the best time to start drawing your Social Security. Do plan on inflation and other unexpected costs as best as you can. Always keep your family in the loop on these important issues.

Where do you want to retire? If you sell your house, what is the value of the home? Do you need to down size and how? How much money will it take for you to live comfortably? Are your major expenses paid or do you have a plan to do so? Is it necessary to have two cars for instance? Talk to a financial advisor to get the most accurate information you can to make the best decision you can.

Another question to ask yourself is do I need to financially continue to work, full or part time? If so, what can I do that I would enjoy and supplement my earnings? If not, what can I do to keep busy? Can I find a hobby, volunteer in my community or maybe join a club? I personally believe that you need to have some activity for your mental and physical well being. One of my friends said that I could go fishing every day. Unless I want to fish commercially, I could not see myself fishing or planning tennis more than once or twice a week. But do have a plan to keep busy.

When you have made the decision to retire and have everything in place, know that your life will change dramatically. No longer do you have to get up before 6am and have a place to go for 8-9 hours a day for 5-6 days a week. Mentally, that will take some adjustment, If you are the type of person who needs a purpose each day, plan early or your new days of emptiness will not be enjoyable.

Retirement can also mean a separation from work colleagues, parents and community members. To me, that is the hardest part of retirement. You have gotten to know people for a number of years and now you are no longer part of their environment. I have had over 20 jobs in education, in seven states and two countries and it seems always to be the same. You get a nice going away party (in most cases) and then sadly you are forgotten by many of your work friends. You have lost that connectedness that can make the job enjoyable to you and something you looked forward to each day. Unfortunately many of your colleagues have probably moved on from you at school. You may be missed but you will not have the same friendships that you once enjoyed. Most relationships are secondary in nature and not one to keep for long periods of time.

When I was a graduate professor and teaching teachers to become educational leaders, I would remind them that if you died you would probably be replaced before you are buried. When you have retired, you are a fond memory and replaced.

I think the loneliness and isolation is difficult at first but if you can find something to keep you active and busy, this would be good for you. Hopefully you can meet new friends that you share an activity with. Getting the human connection again is very important.

Retirement is a difficult adjustment to make but if you are prepared, you can make a smooth and happy transition to the new chapter in your life. Have a plan and stay well.

Dr. Les Potter,

Retired educator