Scott R. Mote, Esq.
5 Signs That You Are Ready to Retire
It happens to all of us. We age. There will come a time when you are not as sharp as you used to be, you will begin to forget, and your body will start to move slower than it once did. And of course, all judges face Ohio Const. Art. IV Section 6(C). Although the thought of aging might sound miserable, it does not have to be! You can start to look forward to retirement and live the rest of your life the way you want. You might be wondering how you know when it is time to retire. If you identify with any of the following signs, it is probably time for you to think about the next phase of your life.
Your ability to do your job declines
Retiring is a challenge for everyone, especially for judges because you have worked so hard to achieve your accomplished position. But, having a sharp mind is crucial to your job. It is your duty to serve and protect the public, and protect the integrity of the law, yet you could be causing unintended harm because of the way your minds and bodies change as you age.
You could have age-related health issues that will impact your ability to continue to perform your duties in the same manner in which you have grown accustomed over the years. Each person is unique, and there is no stereotype as to how you age.
Not all age-related changes are harmful or negative. Scientists suggest that aging is likely a combination of many factors. Genetics, lifestyle and disease all affect the rate at which you age.
One of the effects of aging can include cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment occurs when you have a problem with perceiving, thinking and remembering. Physical illness, mental health issues, alcohol and drug interactions are all possible causes of cognitive impairment.
Some signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment include:
Committing obvious ethical violations
Repeatedly making the same mistakes and not remembering the first one
Loss of skill set
Family member's concerns
Court staff upset/angry
If you start to experience any of the symptoms of cognitive impairment, it can affect your job and the people you are trying to help. Obviously, you want to retire from the profession with integrity and not as a respondent in a disciplinary action because of cognitive impairment.
While many aging people go through the later stages of life successfully and embrace their new phase of life, some people experience mental health issues at this time. There are many mental health issues you may face as you age, but depression can be the most significant and under-diagnosed.
While depression and suicide rates among the elderly are significant, depression is not a normal part of the aging process. Depression is one of the issues most commonly associated with suicide in older adults; however, it is under-recognized and under-treated. It is important to discuss any negative feelings with your physician, counselor or other mental health providers.
You are burned out
Sometimes, the decision to retire is not because of aging or mental health. It is because you are just not excited about your job as you once were. You might dread going to work, you are tired, unmotivated and disengaged. This is called burnout, and it can seriously affect your job.
If you are experiencing burnout, make a list of pros and cons about your current job. If you find that the cons outweigh the pros, then it is probably time to either retire, change the things you can to make your current job better, or start searching for other opportunities.
Burnout is not just a trending topic. It is real, and it will not go away on its own. Remember that when you are burned out, you are not performing at your best and your belief in yourself is compromised. This can take a toll on your decision-making capabilities.
You are emotionally/psychologically ready
Being a judge is a rewarding experience. You help people every day. After a career in this field, it can be challenging to think about what comes next and if you will be fulfilled emotionally in retirement. It is important to have something to retire to, not just something to retire from. Think of retirement as your second act, where you can do so many new things, such as a part-time job, volunteering, spending more time with our families, or traveling.
You have a supportive social network
You need a support system; everyone does. You need other people to make you feel loved, to make you feel as if you matter. The people you turn to in a crisis or when something amazing happens to you are the people who make up your support system. This can be a combination of family, friends, co-workers, your sports team or choir, people you volunteer with in your community. If you do not have this support, you will become isolated and lonely, and being disconnected from other people has detrimental effects on your health. You will need this support and connection when you retire.
You are financially stable
Are you at the point in your life where you are financially stable? This means that you are debt-free, you are no longer supporting children or other family members, you have a retirement budget, and your financial portfolio is up to date. When you do not have to worry about making enough money to pay for your mortgage, credit card debt, your child’s college tuition or other recurring bills, you are mentally in a better place to retire.
Retirement is the beginning of a whole new adventure. As you transition into this exciting phase of life, remember that you deserve all of the peace, freedom and happiness that comes along with it. You have spent your life preparing for it. Where will retirement take you?
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or substance use issues, contact the Judicial Advisory Group, a peer-based confidential assistance group that helps judges and magistrates with personal and professional issues. For more information, go to www.ohiolap.org/judges or call (800) 348-4343.