I recently turned 55. I’ve now moved into the next age range on surveys and forms, no longer in the 45-54 it’s the 55-64 bracket for me. The slide towards retirement.
I have a plan for when I’ll retire that I have no intention of sharing with my workplace. I have to give four weeks notice and that’s all I owe them. Don’t get me wrong, I like where I work. It’s big enough I have been able to change positions over the years and do new things without leaving the university. I’ve been there for approaching 32 years in a succession of positions and on the whole it’s been a good employer.
None of that means they need to know exactly when I want to pull the pin or if a request to reduce to a fractional appointment is the precursor to retirement. Succession planning is something that gets referenced in conversations at work when people are approaching retirement age but why do I need to worry about that, I won’t be there. My employer could make me redundant tomorrow, with the requisite payout, and there would be no succession planning then. I’d just be cast adrift. The restructures, redundancy rounds and change processes I’ve seen in the last decade has emphasised to me more and more it’s important to remember your employer pays you in return for doing a set of tasks. You don’t owe them anything more than that.
As an aside, join your union. They care more about you than your employer and will be on your side. Don’t talk to HR about your plans. Their primary goal is protecting the employer and you can be assured they will be telling your boss about your retirement questions.
I took a bit of time in early January to think about how I might approach the remaining years of my working life. Transition to retirement is important. Once you have less years of work ahead than behind you is probably the best time to start. The Fair Work Act in Australia means I can ask for more flexible work arrangements now I’m 55. What would that be is something I’ve been thinking about. Do I want to work from home three days a week instead of two? Do I want to have a nine day fortnight? Do I want to start earlier so I finish earlier? All questions I’ve been turning around in my head for a few weeks now.
I’m at the point where I’m happy with the level I’m at. The salary pays my bills and the position gives me the flexibility to turn off for the day and live a full life in my personal time. I’ve reached my plateau if you like and don’t want to do the extra unpaid hours or give up my weekends to work on something so I can chase that next promotion. My email and Teams notifications turn off at 5pm and turn back on at 8am. They’re off all weekend. It’s not that I lack ambition, it’s that I’m perfectly happy with what I have.
I’m also mindful that I had what the doctor euphemistically refers to as “the cardiac event” at the end of 2020, a hypertensive episode due to undiagnosed high blood pressure and a bit too much stress on the heart. It helps to reset your approach to life when you reflect on the fact women are long lived in your family, the men not so much.
A long way of saying I’ve had a lot of introspection over the last few weeks and I think I have a rough plan for the years ahead. That said, you never know what’s coming. There’s a 200 million first division prize in the lotto tonight, my retirement plans might change tomorrow.