One year ago, I gave my last report as district superintendent and walked off the platform, and a few weeks later, we started our new journey. Like everyone before me and those coming after,* some things go according to plan, and a few do not.
What has gone according to plan?
- Financial Plan This is the first item that folks work on as they anticipate retirement. It is the one I spend the least amount of time discussing. The reason is that there are many financial planners and many variations. Many have personal retirement accounts (IRA 401K’s, 403b’s, etc.). There is social security, the timing of when to take it, and personal savings. I have discovered that this is the area that most people pay some attention to and then decide whether to continue working for a year or two or take a part-time job. Because everyone’s financial situation is different, I leave it to each of us to make this decision. However, you cannot ignore the economic condition you find yourself in. Susanne and I met with a financial planner after a few months of putting pencil to paper, helping us to develop our plan. We had and have our plan.
- Location We decided in 2016, when our home sold in Detroit, to purchase a home in Florida. Early in our retirement, we became residents of Florida. Warm weather and no state income tax were contributing factors, as well as my psoriasis. This skin ailment responds well to sunshine. Our only child lives in Chicago, so we also have a place to stay in suburban Chicago for the summer and holidays.
- Activities We took a retirement trip with friends to Europe. This was a great experience. I continue to go to the gym. I like pickleball, but finding courts and people to play has been more challenging.
- Purpose This, likewise, has been a work in progress.
Retirement, like life, does not work out exactly as planned. That is why course correction and adaptation are essential. You will be disappointed if you believe you can put a plan together, set it and forget it. Life does not work that way.
What has not gone according to plan?
- Work A couple of months into retirement, I was asked to step in for a district superintendent colleague taking a six-month medical leave. Unfortunately, my friend passed in December, and the interim position will be over in mid-August, a little over eleven months in duration. I have been happy to step in and do this, but I did not plan it.
- Connections This has two aspects: we have seen people we have known down through the years, have gotten to spend some wonderful times together, and struggled to make new connections. This is a common experience for retirees who move away. The church has been one of our primary sources of connections. One observation is that some congregations post-COVID only offer a Sunday morning worship service. This makes getting connected more of a challenge. We do have great friends, but this is the reality that some retirees face.
- Place Finding your place has been a little more complicated than I imagined. I understand that I was in a leadership position before retirement, but I thought I prepared myself for the eventuality that I would be just a congregation member. There have been a couple of complicating factors: I am an interim DS and have traveled back and forth and have not been consistent in my attendance due to my commitments, and it has been a challenge connecting with a church family.
Susanne and I are back in the Midwest for the summer. We feel we will likely make some changes in our lives to address some of the items I have discussed. So, as I stated retirement has been an incredible journey this first year. As with all of life, we must adjust and evaluate continually along the way. Stay tuned!