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?