Retirement Planning Strategies December 2018

Finding Harmony in Retirement

JOAN FITZPATRICK’S NEW PURSUIT

“I could not have asked for a better career,” says Joan Fitzpatrick of her 33 years working for the Department of the Interior as a scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. “I was very fortunate to pick a great major in college, one which propelled me toward a challenging, fascinating career.” Joan had the type of career everyone aspires to, but that also made things a little scary when it came time to retire. “When you work in a field for as long I did, it becomes a part of your identity,” Joan notes. “My co-workers were my tribe, my family. The communication between us was easy and natural, and needless to say, we had a lot in common.” Joan’s feelings in this regard aren’t unique. After all, many federal employees work in specialized professions that have a high barrier to entry. A lot of our clients feel the same misgivings about retiring that Joan did. But you can’t wonder, “What if?” forever. Eventually, you have to take the plunge into retirement. After retiring in March of 2016, Joan admits it took a little while to adjust. “At first, life without being a professional scientist was difficult,” she reveals. “It was all I had known and it left a big hole, but thankfully, I was able to find a pursuit just as challenging and rewarding as my career had been.” That pursuit was playing the harp. “As a child, I always wanted to play the harp,” Joan says. “When I had the chance to do it in 2002 while still working, I jumped at it. Almost immediately, it became a very serious avocation. I joined two community orchestras here in Denver, and things took off from there.”

One of the ways Joan has been improving her playing is through the Academy Week hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra every June. During this week, the symphony gives serious, adult- amateur players from all over the world the chance to rehearse and play with professional musicians. “I first attended Academy Week six years ago, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Joan says. “It’s a huge boost to my skill level and a lot of fun. This year, we were able to perform the ‘Isle of the Dead’ and ‘Symphonic Dances’ by Rachmaninoff, which is something I’ll never forget.” Playing has now become a full-time passion for Joan, who also serves as the personnel manager for one of her community orchestras. “I took on the role specifically because I wanted to be outside of my comfort zone,” she states. “It’s a chance to meet and talk with people in large groups, which is not my natural forte but something I’m determined to get better at.” Like many of our clients, Joan found Ann’s expertise with federal retirement programs to be a huge boon for her. “I’d met with financial advisors before,” Joan says. “But they didn’t really understand my specific situation in detail. Ann was enthusiastic, knew her stuff, and had a great support team. She also gave me the confidence to approach retirement with the same enthusiasm I did my professional life.” We’re always happy to see our clients accomplish amazing things after their career has ended. Joan has certainly done that, and so can you.

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