How do you transition to retirement? That was Julie’s question. She had plenty of energy, plenty still to contribute, but wondered, “when will I be ready?”
Julie had been with a large community organisation based in Sydney for twelve years. “We had gone through a lot of changes. I had a big role, responsible for a lot of staff. But I was thinking about moving to a three-day a week role.”
In the end, Julie concluded that moving to a lesser part-time role wouldn’t work. “I decided to leave. I loved it there. I saw value in the work, what it stood for and loved the friendships. But I concluded that it would be difficult taking on a lesser job when you’ve had a bigger one.”
Over the next few months, Julie entered an “in-between” period. “I wasn’t ready for retirement, but I wasn’t sure what I was ready for. It was like leaving with nowhere to go. It was scary.” Julie had to deal with the emotions of departing as well, “I took one day at a time trusting that God would lead me.”
Julie’s active nature found plenty of possibilities for the future. “I am a bit entrepreneurial. I got an ABN and registered a business name. I investigated starting a partnership with someone whose skills complemented mine and had the same values. I also half wrote a book on Parenting.”
“My book was designed for parents who aren’t readers. Having worked with a lot of families who have their children removed, I’ve learned how no-one sets out to be a ‘bad’ parent. It is designed to help parents understand the important aspects of parenting in a way that is supportive and non-judgmental. People need to be encouraged to seek support rather than feel threatened by well-meaning agencies.”
The possibilities were exciting, even if they didn’t lead to final outcomes.
Eventually Julie found part-time work for a smaller community organisation closer to home. “This is ideal for me. Basically, I fill in the gaps. I do projects, so I get the pleasure of starting and finishing things.” She also has time for other important things, such as her grandchildren and being a social activities coordinator in her local community.
“My work involves children up to the age of 18 who are in Out of Home Care. I don’t work directly with them as we have case managers who do this.”
“These kids have experienced a lot of trauma. In many cases restoration with family is not possible, although we always look into those possibilities. Our goal is to help them set goals for themselves as they move towards independent living and maintain family connections where possible.”
“The challenge of working with these kids is that early attachments have often not been there or trust has been broken many times in their childhood. Because of that they sometimes display behaviour which pushes the boundaries, which is quite normal for teens or pre-teens anyway.”
“We try to get the best outcomes for each young person. It’s essential to build trusting relationships and find people to be mentors to them. People who will build on their strengths and reinforce their value as unique individuals.”
One of the things that Julie has learned about herself is that she is not afraid to stand up for what she believes. It can be costly, but Julie is quite straightforward in her approach.
In a previous job, I noticed younger staff being neglected
She simply asks questions and tries to advocate for people who seem to be having difficulty. “In a previous job, I noticed younger staff being neglected. I wanted to ensure that their first experience of work was a positive one. Sometimes it led me to ask uncomfortable questions. And sometimes the consequences have not been great for me. But I don’t regret this.”
Asked if this makes her cynical, “We’re all human. We all have our flaws. But I am in a privileged position. Being older now and more secure financially, I am not as vulnerable as many, so it is perhaps a little easier for me to be an advocate. Being a Christian, I also believe that God is in ultimate control.”
Her ideas of vocation reflect her training as a social worker. “I’ve been trained to look at systems and how they work together.
Ultimately my vocation is working with people so that they are valued
Values are important to me, particularly justice and inclusion. I could work in lots of settings. Ultimately my vocation is working with people so that they are valued and nurtured to be the best that they can be.”
“When I was young, I wanted to be a missionary, to help people know God. But I suppose I am a missionary in some ways. I guess I take God’s message to the world by helping people feel listened to and accepted for who they are and if appropriate, knowing that God loves them.”
Of course, I don’t push this on people, but I love it when people have a spark of interest in spiritual things.”
“I’m a little bit of a lot person, more of a generalist. But there will come a time when I must narrow that down. Maybe it’s FOMO. But I am an enthusiast according to my Enneagram. So, I will continue to be an enthusiast wherever I go. The risk is that I might continue to want to do too much and may just have to be satisfied with doing just a little.”
Maybe that’s how you transition into retirement.
Julie’s name changed to protect identity