When I started my first professional career, I was enrolled in a great retirement program. I was young, and couldn’t imagine actually retiring someday. When I decided to go to graduate school, I decided the easiest way to fund it was to pull out what I’d put into my retirement. That wasn’t a very wise plan.
A Failure to Plan
I didn’t even consider other options to fund graduate school. Soon after starting, I discovered I qualified for scholarships and then learned about graduate assistantships, which allowed me to cover the tuition for four years of my education. I used the money I withdrew from retirement to pay for living expenses – expenses I could have covered through other means. At the time, withdrawing my retirement was simply the fastest and easiest way to do what I wanted to do.
I kept telling myself I had plenty of time to think about retirement. I didn’t do much planning for several years. To be honest, it wasn’t until my own son, a financial planner, sat down with me when I was in my early fifties and had “the talk” with me about retirement.
Time to Catch Up
Once I started visualizing what I really wanted my life to look like after I retired from teaching, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do before I could even consider ending my career. I not only needed to figure out what I wanted to be doing after retirement, I needed to figure out how much money I was going to need to make my dreams a reality. For me, that meant teaching a lot longer than I had once imagined. I’m now one of the oldest faculty members on campus. How did that happen?
I am teaching 8 more weeks this term, 5 weeks during the summer, and 12 weeks (including in-service) this fall. Then I”m done.
A New Plan
My dream after retirement is to start a web-based business for Baby Boomers. I’ve been working on the plan for this business over the past two years. I’m going to be ready this time.
I hope you’re all smarter than I was. For too many years, I had planned in the moment rather than for the long haul. I hope you all live long and realize your dreams. To do so, it helps to figure out what you want those dreams to look like and what you need to do for them to become a reality.