My library is in the midst of three major retirements. Three of the library’s key players, who have either worked here for decades or who have been in the field for decades, have decided that now is the time to move on to the next phase of their lives. They are to be congratulated and celebrated! They have all been very successful in their careers and worked hard, so they have earned the right to enjoy a long and fulfilling retirement.
This has has spurred many conversations among our staff about the nature of retirement. Some say they will never retire because they love to work. As long as they feel that they are still contributing to the organization and the profession, they see no reason to retire. Some say that they would be bored at home, or that being home with their retired spouse would drive them crazy. Some say that they need to stretch their benefits package a little further.
Others, and I fall into this category, are already counting the days to their retirement. It is not because they do not enjoy their jobs. I, for one, love my job. I work because I have to, though, and since I have to, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. In all honesty, if I didn’t have to work I probably wouldn’t. I have a whole list of things I wish I had more time to do. Some of those things are library-related things. I can’t see ever distancing myself from libraries. When I am retired, I will still be a library user. I’m going to check out piles of books to read and movies to watch. I’m going to download e-books to read on my travels. I may even volunteer a few hours here and there to a library in need. I will tour libraries when I travel, I will attend library programs, I will join the Friends of the Library, and I will support libraries as a voter.
I am looking forward to retirement, but I believe that retirement is something earned. I will work hard between now and then to leave my legacy and to have a fulfilling work life. “RIP” or “retired in place” is a horrible thought. It’s what happens when people are burned out, dried up, with no inspiration and no creative energy. They’ve done it all before and they just can’t get excited about doing it any more. Change becomes an obstacle instead of a challenge. I never want to be in that place. I go back to the conversations with co-workers who have said that as long as they feel that they are contributing something, they will work. I agree completely with that, but my plan is to retire on top, when I still have energy and inspiration for life.
This is the time of my life when I work, when I inspire others who work, and when I learn as much as possible from others who work. When I retire I will simply transfer that energy to other exciting and inspiring activities.
Roughly 15 more years, and counting.