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General Manager's Message - July 2019

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.
- Vincent Van Gogh


By Mike Kezar

On a typical week day, I spend 30% of the day sleeping; at least 50% of the day getting ready for work, driving to and from work, and actually working; with no more than 20% of the day left for everything else. I suspect I am not much different from most working people. We spend the majority of our time on work related activities, and the least amount of time on family, recreation, hobbies, church, volunteer activities, and other activities that feed our souls.

Is it any wonder then, given that we spend the majority of our time at work, that we can struggle when we retire? Think about it. We have much of our identity at work. We often form social networks with coworkers. Work provides a routine, a structure, a predictable schedule for our lives. Work is where we achieve. Whether it is good grades in school, or recognition at work, or promotion, or the completion of a successful project, work provides us an opportunity to achieve, to realize a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Now think about retirement. The majority of our time that we historically devoted to work is now "free time". How we will enjoy retirement then is really about how we fill this newfound time. For years I have asked the question of individuals who were approaching retirement: What do you plan to do? The answers I received have varied: from fishing or golfing, to family and travel, to hobbies and volunteering, to just plain "I don’t know!".

Unretirement is becoming more common, researchers report. A 2010 analysis by Nicole Maestas, an economist at Harvard Medical School, found that more than a quarter of retirees later resumed working. A more recent survey, from RAND Corporation, the nonprofit research firm, published in 2017, found almost 40 percent of workers over 65 had previously, at some point, retired.

It has been my observation that the individuals that enjoy the retirement the most are those who develop a definite plan well before the day they actually retire. And not just a financial plan, although that is definitely important. It is also important that we have a plan to feed our souls, to replace potentially lost social interaction, and to satisfy our need for affirmation and self-worth.

During a recent training session. Leanne King shared some statistics that were startling. One of those statistics is that 25% of STEC’s workforce is within 10 years of their normal retirement age of 62. With the potential for reduced benefit early retirement beginning at age 55, a substantial number of STEC employees have the potential to retire within a very few years.

If you, like me, are quickly approaching retirement, I hope you have developed a plan to enjoy your well-deserved years after work. If you have some concern about what the retirement years might look like for you, I encourage you to seek advice and counsel. NRECA provides a service through their Personal Investment & Retirement Counseling (PIRC) to help you prepare financially for retirement. And there are certainly other financial advisory services available. But don’t stop at just financial planning. Seriously spend time preparing for how you will spend your time as well. We will work most of our life with the goal of reaching retirement. Put some effort into preparing to enjoy retirement to its fullest! You have worked too
hard not to!

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