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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Controling our Lives: Before and After Retirement

       I have for the most part enjoyed the independence provided by my career choice to become a university professor.  It is occasionally stressful when students have difficulty distinguishing between the amount of effort they put into studies and the quality of that effort.  Some post secondary institutions have adopted a “business model”.   In this regard, students may see themselves as customers and their instructors as service providers who are there to entertain them.  All this considered I continue to enjoy working with my students. 
         So what does this have to do with retirement?  One of the key factors in pre- and post-retirement literature is the amount of control a person has over his or her life. This has been connected with the amount of stress experienced. Another factor is about having the opportunity learn new things.  For sure over the years since I began work I have had opportunities to develop and learn new ways of being, in part through interaction with many persons including students, staff and colleagues.
         Because I have only been working part time during the past five years and due to my wife’s broken ankle I have taken on more activities at home including shopping, sweeping, cooking and yard maintenance. These activities help me stay active and take some of the burden off of my wife who taking courses in her third year studying Fine Arts at our University.
         It is important that we engage in activities that are motivated by our own interests and feelings rather than doing things as a means to an external goal e.g. finding new employment so we can continue to pay or bills. (Yes of course the bills do need to be paid!) It is best if we can concentrate on developing internal desires without forgetting about external needs.        
         An important thing about retirement, expressed in Continuity Theory, is maintaining some connections with our sense of self during our years of employment. I am doing this in part by creating and marketing my retirement and other workshops (wisdom &memory). I will still be a learning facilitator. I am beginning to make contacts in the volunteer and business communities; the bridge I am creating between work and retirement is getting stronger.
         In summary successful retirement is about being able to maintain self-control and continue to face new challenges throughout our lives.   I hope this is happening for you. If you know anyone who might be interested in sponsoring a workshop please let me know.

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