It is our mission at Lifelaunch Consulting to help others define their ‘next’ with purpose and intention, and to celebrate as a new chapter unfolds. As part of this, we are highlighting our friends who have successfully navigated the move from ‘now’ to ‘next’ and are thriving as a result! It is our hope that by sharing these stories, we inspire others to live their lives to the fullest.
Dr. Steve Iseman, APR, Fellow PRSA
My Pre-Retirement Career:
I spent the first half of my career working in public relations – primarily but not exclusively for colleges and universities – and operating several small family owned businesses. The second half of my career was spent as a professor. First at a large research-based public institution and then at a smaller student-focused private university where I headed up the academic program, provided course advising and career counseling and taught full time.
Three Ways I Spend My Time In Retirement:
1) I spend some time in Ohio every year looking after several rental properties and a small farm. I live on the farm in southern Ohio and enjoy the physical work and the satisfaction of doing things myself.
2) I also spend some time each year at my house in Key West. Life goes at a slower pace in Key West. I try to ride my bicycle around the island each morning with a stop at the White Street Pier to watch the sunrise where I generally see some friends – an interesting group of people who are always up to date with what’s going on in town and in the world outside of Key West. I belong to the Key West Art & Historical Society and also try to keep up on the music/theatre/art scene in town.
3) In both places I keep active with what’s going on in the public relations field. Part of this comes through heading-up and serving on site-visit teams for certification/accrediation/program reviews at colleges and universities both in this country and abroad. Part of this comes through giving lectures/programs on campus and for professional organizations. And part it comes from reading and serving as an editorial reviewer for academic journals in the communicaiton field.
What I Love Most About Retirement:
During the second half of my career, as a college professor, I was very self-directed, doing what I thought served students, organizations I worked with, and the public relations profession best – other than for fixed administrative and scheduled classroom responsibilities. My life in retirement still allows me to contribute to the field in meaningful ways, working with students, academic and professional organizations but without the fixed administrative or regularly scheduled classroom responsibilities.
I’ve got time now to spend with my grown children and with my grandsons. My wife Sue and I are able to come and go as we like and can be there for them when they need us.
My Biggest Challenge With Retirement:
I suppose everyone worries to some extent about the organization/company that they are leaving behind – will it survive and prosper once we’re gone, and I knew going in that the biggest retirement challenge for me was going to be letting loose. I’d built an academic program, been the public face of it in the professional community and the program’s lead professor for a long time. To say that I was vested in it would be an understatement.
In my case I was fortunate in that I was able to hire a competent replacement and work with her for a couple of years before I retired. Knowing that someone who shared my understanding of the value of what we did and who would be able to keep the program strong made me a lot more comfortable leaving. As it turned out, making myself stay out of the way had been important to her success and the continued success of the program.
In many ways many academics seem to have an easier transition to retirement because so much of what they do everyday is reading, writing, counseling and advising and they are still able to do all of that once formal working days end.
What I Did To Prepare For Retirement:
In addition to paying attention to good financial management/planning, in the years leading up to retirement I thought a lot about what I enjoyed, about what I did, and what I would do more of if I had the time. At the same time I didn’t want to rush into anything before I’d had a chance to really exhale and clear my thinking. For the first six months I was careful not to commit to much of anything new. I continued some board/committee commitments I’d made but didn’t try to extend or expand what I’d agreed to do. I wanted to experience life with some open time before I got myself involved with other things and I think that has worked well for me.
Something I’ve Recently Done For The First Time:
I’ve long been a fan of wilderness travel and over the last 50+ years done a lot of backpacking and canoe travel with family and friends. As a general rule organizing and leading the trips has always been up to me. The roles recently switch though when my youngest son who had taken trips with me since he was in single digits, invited me to join him on a canoe trip that he was going to organize for the two of us. He was 34 (half my age at the time) and stepping back and letting him handle things was an enjoyable and gratifying experience that I’m hoping to repeat again soon.
Most Recent Book/Article I’ve Read:
I just finished reading “Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey Into the Heart of Russia” by David Greene and it was a wonderful book that offered an insightful look into the thinking of the average Russian. Next on the shelf is David McCullough’s “The Wright Brothers,” and I’m looking forward to starting it. I read a lot of other stuff too – articles in the popular press and some lighter books.
With any luck at all I’ll be able to continue to split my time between the farm and the place in Key West in the coming years and I’ll be able to continue as an advisor and resource to others. Of course allowing ample time to spend with family, friends and former students who are all doing exciting things is important.
My Advice For Future Retirees:
1) Remember to take care of yourself – as long as you’re in good shape you can continue to do the things that you love.
2) If you are fortunate enough to have children and grandchildren spend as much time with them as you can – they are the greatest legacy you can leave. If you don’t have children and grandchildren, find ways to get involved with other young people and help them, by example, to learn and to live good lives.
3) Sitting in a chair and doing nothing is the quickest way I know of to get old. Don’t do that.