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Retirement Tips from a One-Year Veteran

Whenever I haven’t seen someone in a while, I can anticipate what that person will say: “How’s retirement going?”

“Great!” I say almost with a twinge of guilt, because the last year has been very fulfilling and very full.

Since today is the second First Day of School that I could stay home from teaching and counseling, I’ve been reflecting some about Seven Ways to Make Retirement Rewarding.

  • Allow some down time. At the end of every school year I always needed a couple weeks to get good sleep and to unwind after the demands of getting high school seniors graduated. However, when I retired, there was some grieving to be done, too. I was leaving behind 26 years of coaching students, and I no longer had the teacher identity. Take some time to think through and process the memories of your work life.

  • Plan a trip. I did not want to be sitting alone in a quiet house when school started up the next fall. So, Craig and I planned a dream vacation–an Alaskan cruise. We loved every minute and fell in love with the small towns and stunning landscape. Retirement is something to be celebrated–treat yourself to even just a couple days somewhere.

  • Take care of your home. You may now have time to work on needed repairs for your home. It’s a good idea to get it in shape for your later years, when you may not be physically able to do the hard work. We seemingly have a mile-long list of things we’ve done in the last year…and still have a handful of things left. However, we feel it’s a good investment in our home, since we’ll be here for what we hope will be the rest of our lives.

  • Don’t go crazy financially. My son-in-law, who is a financial advisor, told me not to go crazy financially when I retired. Now that I’ve taken several trips and taken on numerous house projects, I can see how easily that can happen. You have free time–so you think, Why not? But you have to be cautious when living on a fixed income, so it is prudent to plan for large expenditures to make sure you don’t extend yourself.

  • Re-think your life’s purpose. I knew that God clearly had called me to teach. However, I also know that he called me to write, so I easily transitioned into writing. In fact, I wrote three complete books this year (scheduled for release this fall and next year). Some people, though, don’t have a plan for the next phase of their lives and just let life happen to them.

  • Consider new ministry and volunteer opportunities. If you don’t have the demands of a full-time job anymore, you might find that working for your church or a para-church organization or nonprofit will give you a great reason to get up in the morning. It feels really good using your giftings to help others. My brother- and sister-in-law drive nearly an hour to our little town in the Sierra Valley to volunteer at the museum. They’ve put a lot of grunt work into restoring an old building into a wonderful gathering place that also holds the museum, city offices, and the senior thrift store. Similarly, you could find a niche that brings you a sense of reward.

  • Take care of your health. If you’re not as physically active as before, you might find yourself gaining weight and becoming stiff and sore. Retirement is a great time to begin healthy eating habits and starting new exercise patterns. We bought kayaks last fall and have been enjoying paddling around the lakes that surround our mountain valley.

Retirement is a wonderful opportunity to learn, explore, and serve. I love this promise given to Naomi after her husband and sons died: “He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age” (Ruth 4:15). Praying you find your new you.

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