Tap Six Buckets for a Rewarding Retirement

Glenn Ruskin doesn’t have a bucket list – he has a list of buckets
Glenn, and wife Ann, enjoying fly-fishing at The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia. (His wife caught the first trout!)
Glenn, and wife Ann, enjoying fly-fishing at The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia. (His wife caught the first trout!)
Image credit: Glenn Ruskin

When he retired from ACS in July 2021, Glenn was ACS vice president, External Affairs and Communications, leading ACS’ communications, government affairs, and international outreach activities teams. 

He joined ACS in May 2005 to lead the Office of Legislative and Government Affairs (OLGA), and then the Office of Public Affairs (OPA), which merged OLGA and the ACS Office of Communications. A few years later, International Activities was added to OPA and the division was renamed External Affairs & Communications. In late 2019 Glenn was promoted to vice president, External Affairs and Communications where he remained until he retired.

Prior to joining ACS, Glenn worked in the chemical industry for nearly 20 years, with Ciba-Geigy, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, and Solutia. He has more than 35 years of management experience, and his areas of expertise cover government affairs, public relations, corporate communications, media relations, litigation/crisis communications, and environmental affairs.

Did you choose retirement? Or was it chosen for you?

I chose retirement and had a plan in place to map out the next part of my life adventure. Had it not been for the pandemic, I probably would have retired at the end of 2020 but delayed it until mid-2021 to see how the economy was performing.

How was the transition from the working world to retirement?

The transition was really pretty seamless, largely because I had mapped out a plan. Part of that I credit to the wise counsel of Bill Carroll, former ACS president, chair of the board, and a regular contributor to this great newsletter. Bill put together a retirement training program that was very helpful in easing the transition. I’d encourage readers to take Bill’s course

What do you miss most about your old job?

Largely I miss my ACS colleagues and ACS members and governance. I always enjoyed my work and felt that it resulted in many measurable contributions to ACS and the chemistry enterprise, and I took pride in that. However, at the end of the day, I’ve not missed the deadlines and overall work demands.

What do you wish you knew about retirement before you retired?

Not to have been so nervous about pulling the “plug” and worried about what happens when I no longer have a paid job. If you plan adequately for your next phase after work, there really is not much to worry about, and doing things as a volunteer is just as rewarding as the pay the old job provided.

So far, what has surprised you most about retirement?

How much I am enjoying myself and the freedom to explore new areas.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Assuming they would listen, what’s your best advice for someone in their 20s/30s? 

Think big, push your limits, and don’t fear failure. I think this horrific pandemic has opened the eyes of so many, especially younger people, that they aren’t constrained by their present-day job. Many have left to further their education and pursue their dreams.

What is your favorite part of retired life? 

Being the master of my own time and freedom to do different things each and every day. I lay out a plan for the day, and if I don’t get to it that day, there is always the next day or the one after. And if I never get to it, it really is no big deal!

What’s the biggest challenge you have confronted to this point in your retirement? 

Making sure that I have a set cadence to my day. It would be easy to fall into the trap of sitting around in sweats and a tee shirt until noon. This is why it is important to map out and plan how you would like to spend your days after retiring BEFORE retiring. Also overcoming fear of trying something new. For example, I just became a Fairfax County Election Officer and look forward to helping staff polling places and am looking forward to the June primary election.

How do you stay connected to the chemistry enterprise as a retiree?

By continuing my ACS membership. Membership is a great way to stay connected and keep up-to-date on chemistry enterprise developments through C&EN, various ACS newsletters, ACS webinars, and of course, keeping in touch with former ACS colleagues as well as ACS members. 

What’s a travel destination you can’t wait to get back to? 

Actually, it is something we have not done but often talked about. My wife and I have decided that there is so much to see in the U.S. that we are starting to map out trips to different regions of the country. My wife won’t retire until first quarter 2023, so for starters I’m going to do some overnight visits to places my great and great -great grandparents lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. 

What do you like most about where you are living in retirement? What’s one thing you wish you could change about where you live?

All of our children and grandchildren are within 30 minutes of where we live in Reston, VA. This makes for many enjoyable visits and creation of memories. Traffic is one thing I wish I could eliminate in the DC metro area; it is among the worst in the country. 

What guidance do you have for people who are getting ready to retire? 

Think long-term – don’t just rush into retirement. Plan at least a year or more in advance. Evaluate your financial resources and talk to a reliable financial advisor. Create a well thought-out plan for how you would like to spend the days once you retire. For me, I created several buckets - more time with family, regular exercise, mental/intellectual pursuits, volunteering, genealogical research, and cleaning/decluttering the house (especially the basement!). Eight months into retirement, I’ve dutifully put things into each of those buckets – and I’m having a heck of a good time!

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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