Monday, July 17, 2017

Goals and POA (Plan of Action)

I know it's not the New Year when we all tend to make new goals. Back at the beginning of this new year I was feeling a little lost and conflicted on my goals. I always feel like as educators we face two "new years" though, and I feel a little more sure of my plan and goals now than I did six months ago.

As any that know us or follow us here know we've been discussing making a big life change with careers and relocating. There is now a more definite plan in place. The anxiety I've dealt with in education is almost suffocating at times. It's not constant though, thank God, but when it peaks it is overwhelming for me. My husband has put in years of jumping through hoops to move up in our current system, yet as much as his principal loves him and he loves working for her, here we are a month and a half away from school starting and who knows what position he'll even have in the Fall so both of us have dealt with our share of frustrations over the years.

Though people have told me it's okay to stay in a job for the money you make, the benefits it provides to you and your family, the early pension, and the time off staying just for that doesn't sit well with me. I'll be honest, adults are the problem with education and society. We all want to blame the kids, but there are a bunch of know it all adults frantically trying to "fix" today's youth and education. We-the adults-are the ones taking away accountability which leads to the problems we see in youth and education. We-the adults-want to "fix "everything especially on paper for kids, whether it's parents helicopter parenting and demanding an A when it's not earned or admin demanding something to meet their data goals. If adults-whether it be the parents or the higher ups- would back off and let me run my classroom the way I see fit rather than bending me to their will- I could see staying in education. But with where education is going right now I'm selling a "product" I don't believe in anymore, and that's a huge conflict for me with my personal values.

So where do we go from here? I'm a planner if you don't know. Because I've been in a situation twice now where I didn't think I could take the education field for one more month, I am now working on a plan so that hopefully if or when it happens again, I have at least myself in a financial situation to make a big jump off the education train. I have a two, maximum three year, financial plan in place that would pay off my car, our timeshare, make updates to increase the value of our house and gain equity in our rental house (if the market doesn't crash again), and increase our savings. Our assets will be more and our debt will be less and our credit score should be just as good as it is now if not hopefully even better should it be needed for a business venture.

By 2019 I can have myself down to one school loan payment, one small balanced credit card, and a loan that will still have 2-3 years left until paid off. I have even outlined our travel goals in case we are 1) leaving the east coast 2) won't get to travel for a few years if we start a business. Between Fall 2017-June 2019 I plan to hit New Orleans (already booked), Michigan (summer 2018), back down to Disney and Savannah , Georgia (Xmas 2018) New England 15 day road trip (June 2019), hit NYC one more time (spring break 2019?), possibly OBX again but not sure when or Williamsburg, VA but also not sure when. Then we would have covered everything east of the MO/KS line except Minnesota and Arkansas. And Mississippi but I'm not sure what to go see in Mississippi??? So I'm really pushing if we're completely relocating to moving west-it'll make it easier to travel west of Missouri in our second life!

I have also informed my husband of a similar plan for himself. His will be a little trickier as we separated our personal debt years ago, which I find to be a huge positive because I am a saver and he is a spender, but whether he's financially or personally ready to leave teaching anytime after 2019 when I may be will be up to him getting his finances in line and being personally ready. He may still get what he's been looking for in education and not want to leave, and that's fine.

I've felt so stuck the past few months because I kept saying how I felt like I couldn't plan my next move without knowing his move. I think this thinking created a lot of my own anxiety the past few months. Yes, we're married, but we're both very independent people and like to do things very differently sometimes (hence why for the sake of our marriage I separated our finances to an extent) and though he never said it, I think thinking I couldn't plan or set my own goals until I knew what his were (staying in education or leaving and if leaving doing what) and feeling like my choices were so dependent on him with his personal career choices and finances created this suffocating void where I felt like I had no control. I didn't like feeling like me getting out of education was dependent on him.

I think realizing this and setting a plan for myself that isn't dependent on him is what I've needed these past few months as I head back into the uncertain future of education for  myself. Maybe to some it sounds like I'm dismissing him but really I feel like before I was dismissing myself and my goals when looking ahead and now I'm bringing myself back into the picture. We may not both be able or want to step out of education at the same time, and now I think that's okay because I don't think either of us should really leave until we really feel like we've reached the end of that road for ourselves. Just hopefully we don't reach it before we're financially ready. For myself I know I need at least two more years and him probably closer to three.

As I've been a little torn on this mid career life crisis of mine, someone told me to back map my life (obviously with that terminology I was talking to a teacher)  to determine what my path of direction should be so that's what I did. If I leave education I push my retirement back to 62 rather than 53; however, I was probably going to work doing something until 57.5  when my son would be done with college and my husband would retire (he'll be 62 four years before me). I'm giving up anywhere from 4-9 years of retirement; however, if I'm smart with my money I can do what my dad did. I can technically "retire" from my career actually earlier say somewhere between 15-20 years, go be my own boss with my own business like my dad and sister have done and/or  work other less stressful jobs to get me to 62 where we will have six retirements (obviously those teacher pensions won't be as big for 15-20 years as they would for 30 but we'll have other retirement) waiting for us including each of our social security if we get it which in Maryland we do assuming the government hasn't jacked it up for everybody by then.

I watched my dad work for a company for 20 years, and then morealess "retire" from that, went into business for himself for ten years, sold it and now works for the guy to make money to get him to his official retirement collection years. I also cheered my sister on a few years ago when she was tired of the company world of the hair salon business and broke free to become her own boss. Here she is now years later as a mompreneur, and she's set herself up pretty damn good!

If I'm now looking at 62 rather than 53 or 58 as retirement I have 26 years until retirement with at least 2-3 of those left in education so a little over 20 years to go do something else, which honestly as someone that likes to experience new things I like the idea of experiencing two careers. Obviously one of the big things we've talked about doing is our own business; however, what business and exactly where depends on many factors. One, if it's a business both my husband and I are doing or if it's just me because a restaurant business would not be my first choice so if he's not onboard financially or personally then I'm not doing that one (at first anyway) , but if he is because it's always been his dream I'd jump on that train with him and manage the financial and payroll and other behind the scenes aspect of the business while he was on scene and the one really putting in the hard hours. Where we would go to do it would really depend on several factors- location and opportunity, schools for our kids, desirable area we wouldn't mind spending the next 20 years, and possible proximity to family.

If he's financially and personally ready to do this when I'm ready then I'd go along with it though it's more his dream than mine because it still allows me the opportunity to explore my dream of being home with the kids more and writing more while I handle the books and marketing of the business at home and leave him to managing the on site running of it. If we did this and we relocated we'd probably actually rent for a few years until the business was well up and running and hopefully build a house a few years later. I have also already stressed that family time is still my #1 priority and is one of my biggest concerns with this kind of business so we'd have to look at certain times of the year to close up shop for travel and family or invest the money into a good manager and kitchen manager we trusted to leave in charge a few years after we had it up and running.

If this isn't what happens in 2-3 years because he's not ready for whatever reason, the plan is to financially have myself in a position to make a significant career change whether that may be going part time, opening my own little business of some kind, pursuing some training or courses to change careers if I feel the need. Or maybe I won't. Education is constantly changing and one thing I've learned after 13 years is how vastly different one year to the next can be. But  I don't want to ever experience what I experienced last October ever again. If I ever feel that trapped, that overwhelmed, that stressed and anxious that I can't sleep and I can't even function to the point that it consumes my life like a fog of suffocating black smoke I want to know I've given myself resources (aka money and a plan) to walk away. I hate to say it that way, but there's a reason young teachers are walking away in less than five years of service. I refuse to accept  I'm trapped in my own career for the rest of my working life because I've put in too much time already. We always have the option to change and do something different for ourselves. I plan to be ready next time (as long as that next time is 2-3 years from now and not 2-3 months-please let this be a year that refuels my hope for education)


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