When You Don’t Have a Plan for Retirement

While Colleen Kelly Mellor completes her new book, Patient Witness (about her lifelong interaction with the medical community,) she will post to her blog on Mondays, only.

 cross the street pasture lands and streamMaybe you’re just going to fish, in a stream like this….


Ah, there’s the rub…You haven’t given conscious thought to how you’ll do the next decades of your life (if there’s to be any such thing.)  I know I never did.

Now, I know some will get their knickers-in-a-snit reading this, but I retired the first time, when I was 51. I don’t feel guilty.  After all,  I taught 30 years, and over those 3 decades, as RI teacher, I paid far more into the state’s pension fund than other states required of their municipal workers.

And despite public misperception, my job teaching junior high kids was never easy.

At 6:30 every morning, I went out the door, with a little one attached to my ankles.  I had to bring her to Day Care, first, before I ever even arrived to do my job.  A colleague and I used to commiserate, when the school day began that “Other teachers complained, about their early rising, when we’d already been up several hours, getting our kids up, force-feeding them (they never want to eat when they get up,) dressing them, and going out to cold cars to kick-start them for the trip to the sitter’s or school.

We were exhausted before opening bell.

Two years after retiring from teaching, I became a realtor. It was the heady days of quick sales and fast purchases and in my 8 years in the business, I made a tidy bundle, but I gotta admit: I hated it. 

And so, I left that career, too, to do what I always wanted—write stories.

Years earlier, I’d taken my daughters to Europe on a 5-country, back-packing expedition, and I wrote up our adventure and sent it to National Geographic Traveler Editor, Keith Bellows. He personally called me and told me:  “I’m not going to use this piece but I want you to send me others.”

I recall his admonition:  “Don’t worry about sending material to me (a major magazine editor)…Just write naturally.”

What’d I do?  Choked at the mere thought of the heady heights I now attempted to scale,  and when I didn’t hear back from him, on my second submitted piece, I was convinced he thought me talent-less, after all.

Then, too, I knew there’d be no more out-of-the-country travel to regale him with.  I was a single parent on a very limited budget.

With that, I submitted material to local newspapers and then marshaled enough nerve to send to my state newspaper. Some of these became Cover Stories in their Sunday “Lifestyle” magazine and some became Op-Eds.

Others found their way into the Wall St. Journal via a CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog I submitted to–www.kevinMD.com.

I was growing as a writer.

But freelance writing is my third career.

And since it’s the culmination of all my lifetime experience, it’s perhaps the most satisfying. All I know is this:  It beats my Father’s Retirement Plan.

After a career as teacher and principal of a school, he ended up, working for the IRS on seniors’ tax forms (charging only the bare minimum of $10.00 for his service to many who had millions of dollars in assets) and then filling carousels in supermarkets with those little Burpee seed packets (he was a gardener and thought this a natural progression?)

Like so many others, he didn’t have a sound retirement plan…..And his final one never evolved into something ‘meaningful.’

I try hard not to have that same end.

Now, my question:  What’s your plan for retirement? Do you even have one?  Or are you just figuring, like so many, to walk away from the lifetime career, with nary a thought as to how you’ll replace it? 

Do you plan to “Just play?” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Lee Iacocca of Chrysler Motors, who famously-said “There’s just so many luncheons”  came out of retirement because he didn’t find it fulfilling enough.  Check out this site that lists his terrific quotes…

Then, tell me your Retirement Plan, in Comments section below…..Who are those Best Prepared for retirement? (It’s not just a money thing, anymore–especially when we’re all living so much longer.)

And while you’re telling me your retirement plan, and if you’re still working, read this article that tells what those who are dying wish they’d done before the Grim Reaper claims them. Might give you perspective.

Whatever it is…there’s no sense just sitting around (as one of Biddy Bytes’ readers says,) ‘in God’s waiting room,’ waiting for your ticket to be punched. Maximize your time here, develop hobbies and interests, and even launch new careers.  The one way NOT TO GET OLD is to keep busy and launch into new interests. If you don’t need the money, even better.  Then, you’re really free to investigate all your options.

Now, what’s your plan?


About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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