The “season” has started…. retirement season. I’ve already seen a couple postings sharing the news of long time and respected government leaders, sharing with their communities, councils and staff their decision to retire at the end of the year.
Amidst the holiday parties, potlucks and gatherings there will be luncheons or dinners to send off these colleagues into the GovireeLife. Some are prepared; some not so much…. everyone approaches retirement a little bit differently – as they should! We are all individuals, with our own “plans” and expectations of our retiree life.
I’d like to share a few words of wisdom from a Goviree to those who have just announced your plans and a few for all of you who remain.
For You New Govirees (Gov/Retiree)
- First off: Celebrate! You’ve been planning for retirement right? You’ve pondered the announcement (some agonize) and deliberated (maybe for years) on when is the right time for you and your family. Embrace it!
- You’ll be feeling a mixed bag of emotions: relief (that it’s been shared), excitement (for the next chapter that is to come and feeling the well wishes from everyone), and extreme anxiety (so much to do, so much I wanted to do and “Am I ready?”.) You are.
- Take part of this time to reflect on your career. Make a note of those who made a difference in the leader you are today, those you have mentored along the way and the shining stars you know will do great things. Write down some of those key insights, advice and lessons learned; people will be asking you for your words of career and life wisdom.
- Stay connected with the professional organizations and groups you’re career has grown with; the membership could use your thoughts and guidance.
- You now have time to have lunch with friends; be aware – unless they’re retired too, they might not have time – get more retired friends to fill the gap!
- A wonderful friend provided an amazing bit of advice for me as my last day approached – clean your office, sign off of email, voicemail, etc. the day before your last day. DON’T schedule anything – use that day to walk around and take a few minutes to personally talk with people, visit off-sites with those you’ve partnered with over the years. Use the day to have professional “fellowship” with your colleagues.
Those Left Behind
- Celebrate your colleagues; even if you are not “friends” or close with the person, send congratulatory emails; you can’t imagine the weight this announcement may (or may not) have been on the person, be a part of the excitement.
- Be aware of their mixed bag of emotions; and know you will have your own bag too: Surprise (good or bad) – leaders that share in advance their retirement dates really help in alleviating that surprise but it’s not always the case; excitement – happy for the person and their family and/or excited for the opportunity(ies) this brings; and anxiety – “Who’s going to replace them?” “Should I apply?” or “Are things going to change?” (That answer is YES, it’s inevitable.)
- I’ve said it in a previous #GovireeLife article: Ask. Consider reaching out to a soon to be retiree that you admire or would like to glean some leadership advice from. Ask them to have lunch (see #5 above) or a quick coffee and ask about the career advice they would give up and coming government professionals or next generation leaders. What skills or experience do you see a need for in the current talent pool? Reflect on what you are doing (or need to do) to build your skill-sets to help meet those needs.
- City manager, county managers, deputies, directors, etc. that are newly retired carry a tremendous amount of experience and career lessons in their brains and a passion for government in their soul. Tap into that knowledge, ask them to be a part of Gov Pro Associations as a speaker, or come in for a lunch and learn with your staff or Department on a topic in their expertise. Depending on the “next chapter” they have chosen for their GovireeLife, they may be readily available and eager to share their wisdom. And… think outside your organization retiree pool, who have you admired from another agency who you’d like to hear from? What does it hurt to ask?
- Take time to reflect on your own retirement plans. It comes quicker than you may think, evaluate where you’re at, what your goals are, where you need to be and talk to someone to see if you’re on track.
I found this song from singer/songwriter Keaton Simons that provided me with much needed inspiration and guidance during my transition to the GovireeLife, (I can guarantee he didn’t write it as a retirement song – but hey, it worked for me.) Here are a couple key lines that resonated with me:
“When I walk these streets I feel a certain passion…..
When you’re there with me we start a chain reaction…
…You build a castle out of sticks and bones here we go……
123 Go; after the months of sacrifice, where did they go?
Take time to stop and feel alive…”
Check out Keaton’s song, I hope you find inspiration as well; or find a song that does it for you – let me know your “You’ve Got This!” song, I’d love to hear them!