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Friday, June 15, 2012

What Would Regis Do?

I had a weird and funny dream last night that Regis called to say how much he loves our blog. What was Regis Philbin doing in my dream?

Could the connection be that Regis recently retired and now my employer is offering an early retirement program and inconceivably, somewhere between rewriting my novels, prepping for my first ALS bike ride, and contemplating long board lessons, I grew old enough to qualify!

As a teen, I was fixated on my age, impatient to turn 16, then 18, then 21. Still single in my mid-twenties, I was constantly aware that the clock was ticking and I was behind schedule—unmarried, childless, renting instead of owning, trying on careers.

In my late twenties, I found my professional niche in Human Resources, fell in love and married Jim, and stopped measuring life’s progress chronologically. That is until a little over a year ago, when someone mentioned a retirement investing option, but you had to be 59 ½ to qualify. My immediate reaction was, “Well forget that, I am way too young.” 

And then it hit me— 59 ½ was only 3 months away!

I close my eyes and see the timid 18 year old who quit nursing school because no matter what I did, I could not take away a burn patient’s pain, the adventurous 20 year old who quit a promising job at the telephone company. Yep, back then there was only one—and I quit Bell Telephone not just once but twice—the first time to backpack through Europe and the second time to spend the summer at the shore. I can still see my Uncle Yatch’s bewildered expression when he said, “No one quits the phone company! They have the best pension plan.” Pension Plan?  I am not sure I even knew what that meant. I was 21, who cared?

The years rolled by —years filled with love and family and friends and losses and job changes and memories and achievements and lessons learned. So here I am at 60, qualifying for early retirement, yet in my heart and head most days I am still that tentative and inquisitive young girl.

Years ago, a co-worker named Mary Mac Donald gave me advice that has guided many decisions in my life, “You don’t need to make every decision as if it is for the rest of your life. You can always change your mind.”

I have quit jobs before, but the decision to stay or early retire feels like the exception to Mary’s rule.

So, what would Regis do?

Do you have any sage advice?


  1. They say that a 60 year old still knows what it is like to be 21 but a 21 year old will never know what it is like to be 60! That's my sage words for you. From a 59 and 5 month old already retired friend.

  2. Chris BradyJune 15, 2012

    Carol: You must be prescient. I was talking to a friend who has this option just last night. We were both fantasizing how great it could be (if we had health insurance coverage to bridge to Medicare). I like Mary Mac's advice a lot. There may be no "un-do" button in life, but new options always find their way into our lives. I know you love your job. That might make it hard to say yes to retirement. Any option to just slow down some -- maybe work 20 hours a week?

    That would be my dream.


    1. I do love my job and the work I do and like you Chris, I rarely think of retirement as not working at all, just working much less.
      we will see what the near future holds

    2. Retired folks tell me I'll know when I'm ready. Probing????
      What else do you want to accomplish at work and how long will it take?
      Can you plant this seed and watch someone else accomplish it?
      Are you now in the business of "legacy making? " I switched into this gear about a year ago with specific goals to achieve and/or set in motion before I leave.
      Leaving a wonderful job is a tough decision.
      Another question...
      Is the job getting in the way of what you want to do now or how you want to live your life?
      You will make the best decision for you, Carol!

    3. Ah Ro, just like a good coach to ask powerful questions like:
      What else do you want to accomplish at work and how long will it take?
      I am involsed in new projects right now that I would like to see through but - really I have accomplished all that I ever wanted to and more than I imagined I could in my career.

  3. Instead of retirement, think of it as a graduation. You've given many years to this job, now, maybe, it's time to move on to something else. Transitions always bring apprehension, but they all bring opportunity and excitement.

    1. Hi Peggy, I like the idea of graduation, that I am completing one thing and moving on to the next adventure.

  4. Hi Carol,
    I wish I had great words of wisdom or advice, but I don't have any. From the people I know who have retired, many of them lead busier, more fulfilling lives after retirement. Good luck with your decision!

  5. AnonymousJune 18, 2012

    Hi Carol
    This seems to be a recurring theme lately - at least the part about the speed of time passing and pondering how to spend the time that remains. I was a bit startled the other day when I read an article about aging gracefully and realized that the women in the article were all at least five years younger than me. :-)
    Do you know whether this is a one-time offer or if the subject might be revisited at a later time??

  6. I heard a 21 year old at work today complaining that he felt old. I told him I was disgusted and left the room. These things are all relative I suppose. I retired from a career at 32, so I am all for early retirement. More time to write, to play, to dream. Yes, yes and yes!

  7. Hi Rachel, it is a first for my employer and they are carefully saying it may not be offered again so I have to look at it as a one-time offer.

    Julie and others, thanks for reminding me this is retiring from THIS job/emplorer, not necessarily from the world of work. I love that it may open doors to working smarter (and less :) )