Planning is overrated

Plans. I had a whole series of plans for when I left teaching. Please note, I was not calling it retirement. The plans called for starting over. I would move to a new city. I would get a job with a nonprofit. Maybe in microfinance. I had done much research into this area. Even attended a conference or two and spoken with many already working in the industry. Because of my small teacher pension that came with health care benefits, I didn’t need a large salary or benefits. With years of marketing experience I saw myself as quite hirable.

The nonprofits had other ideas, though. They saw me as too old. Instead, they were hiring fresh young things right out of college. I tried volunteering, and the agencies thought I did great work. But hire me? No. In two places I volunteered for weeks and months until the work was complete and I wasn’t needed.

Since I had the education background, and retired teachers did not seem a hirable commodity in microfinance, I decided to look into nonprofit education organizations. Again, sure, my skills were valuable, but for volunteering, not paid work.

The rent on our studio apartment that overlooked the Bay Bridge skyrocketed. Things were changing in San Francisco and an even younger crowd would soon be taking over the city. We packed up and returned to our house in Fresno.

After six years away from teaching, I am now happy with the word retired. No one is going to hire me. I’m going to be a volunteer for numerous organizations for the rest of my working days. I’ve come to terms with it. So much for those PLANS I made.

These thoughts have been swirling in my head since I met my friend, Lynn, in person, a few weeks ago. She was returning from a writing retreat and one of the participants had admonished her, upon learning that Lynn would retire from teaching in a year, to plan carefully for her retirement. The participant had not and had regrets.

I told her that it didn’t make much difference if she planned or not. Her plans, like mine, might not come to fruition. Having the plans and yet unable to carry them out has given me regrets. So, I guess it can work both ways.

One thing I said, over and over, before I left the school scene, was that I wanted to do good work with good people for the good of the community. I felt that in all my years at the inner city high school I had that and I wanted it to continue. Six years later, I can say that part of the plan is being fulfilled.


9 responses to “Planning is overrated

  1. It is still good to have a plan, I think, always bearing in mind it’s just a plan subject to change. In your case, I think it worked out alright!

  2. Your story sounds so familiar. The young leaders of non-profits seem to like people like themselves around. We cannot even talk about the tech field. I really admire you for making your plan become real

  3. My husband tried to find a job after resigning from his old job, but as you said, it is hard to find one when you are in your sixties. Fortunately, he likes being retired.

    • I wasn’t even interested in anything full time, which one would think young people would want, so I didn’t feel I was in competition for jobs they might fill. However, nonprofits seem quite happy to use older people, with great skills, as volunteers.

  4. When I left work, I asked my good friend who was retirng at the same time what he was going to do. Absolutely nothing, he said. He and his wife moved back to SF where he was raised. I wonder if he is doing nothing.

    When I retired for the second time, I thought I might do some volunteer work at one of the local historical sites (I am in Washington DC), but “I’ve been too busy. Since retiring, I finished the graduate degree in history I had desired since I was a kid. Since then I have been working on my family tree using my research skills (back to the 1600s on most lines).

    These are the doable projects I planned. These and reading the books I wanted to. I am happy with my current “hobbies” and my days are busy. I am a planner, but these days, I am merely enjoying what I planned.

    • I too wonder how your friend is doing in SF. It is so expensive to live there now unless he owned a place in which to retire. That was my goal, to have our house paid for BEFORE I retired. I used a special retirement fund for the 15 months we lived in San Francisco to pay the rent for our studio. Some of my retired coworkers have used the fund for travel or to remodel their house. I used it on an adventure I had always wanted to do so I feel okay about that part of the plan.

      • I agree. You should have whatever venture you planned when you retire. I planned to complete a grad degree in history then work on my tree. I paid for courses, books and other expenses from my own pocket. No debt for me in this case.

        As for Cam, my friend, I hope he had his dream. I think his father still lived in SF, so for him, moving there was moving home.

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