Knowing When It’s Time to Retire

Author: Chris Maxwell

Not Always Easy

Seeking God’s will for your future can be challenging. Knowing when it is time to retire is not always easy. Some people retire too early. They leave stable incomes and consistent schedules. They search for ways to bring in more money and how to spend time wisely. Other people work full-time for too long. They refuse to retire because they don’t like change, they fear the lack of income, or they allow their identity to be based on their vocation.

Retirement Advice

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Andrea Reganato says, “Some continue to work simply because they can’t afford to retire. Another reason could be not having any direction or idea of what to do next, so retirement may seem like a sea of uncertainty, which can lead to stress and anxiety.”

How can those near retirement age know the right time? How can they avoid either extreme of retiring too early or working too long?

The following thoughts can help know when God is calling you to retire.

Accept the Reality
Aging is a part of life. Resistance doesn’t stop it from happening. Though many cultures work hard to encourage people to look, dress, act, and stay young, people age. Those who age best are those who accept this reality.

It is important because aging can affect the ability to teach well. Health issues—physical, mental, emotional, psychological, technical—can limit a teacher’s ability to effectively do what they have done before. Denial of that fact doesn’t diminish the reality. Accepting it is a huge step toward knowing when to retire and how to retire the right way for the right reasons.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Retirement Coach Monte Drenner says, “Retirement is a huge decision for anyone, but especially for teachers due to all the connections with students, their families, faculty, and administration. Leaving this vast network can be daunting but is ultimately inevitable. Having a clear identity and purpose are important to having good mental health. Many teachers struggle to find a different fulfilling purpose and identity when they retire.”

Fight the Reluctance
Vocations often equal identity and value. That should not be, but it is. Noticing the importance of new voices can help teachers resist that hesitancy. Professors should remember when others previously retired, it opened spots for them.

Reganato says, “Retirement can be a time when you can track interests and opportunities that you haven’t been able to pursue during your career. If you feel stressed and pressured to retire at a certain time, take a step back, breathe, and surrender it all to the Lord. He will continue to use you to make a difference in the lives of others.”

What can be done? Drenner says, “Perhaps the best way to see retirement as a positive experience is to build relationships with former teachers who have transitioned well to retirement.”

Embrace the Opportunities
A healthy approach is to see retirement as not an end but a beginning. God isn’t done with you. Mentoring younger teachers, serving in other schools, guiding students one on one, writing curriculum from years of experience—the opportunities are there.

Brad Roberts served in public education for 32 years, 21 in school administration. Now retired from those roles but teaching at a private college, Roberts says, “I knew it was time to retire when I was presented with an opportunity to teach future teachers.”

Realize talent and experience are needed, just in a different way and in a different place. Seasons change. Roles change. Joy can remain as teachers teach well, whatever their new role might be after they retire.

About the Author

Chris Maxwell

Chris Maxwell connects with a variety of audiences through words written and words spoken. He is the author of eleven books, editor of more than forty, and has written over 1,000 articles. Chris speaks around the world in conventions and schools, works in student life at a college, and is the co-host of Next Step Leadership podcast. Chris and his wife have three married sons and nine grandchildren.

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