Thursday, December 8, 2011

Knowing When to Leave

It has been just over three years since I retired.  This afternoon I will be going to a luncheon with many of my former colleagues in the field of Treasury Management.    How many times do you think I will be asked if I am enjoying that decision and do I have any regrets?

Let me answer those questions in order:  Absolutely YES, and definitely NO.

There were several factors that made me decide to take early retirement:  My grandfather died only six months after his retirement in 1960.  My father died suddenly on Christmas Eve in 1980 at the age of 57.  I had both neighbors and colleagues pass away in their late 40's.  And my fall and fracture of my leg and ankle in 2007 showed me what life without the daily stress of the office could be like - even though I was immobile in a chair most of the day. 

I realized that life is short and, surely, we are not meant to die in our office chairs.  Frankly, making money and working 40+ hours a week is not all that it is cracked up to be.  When do you have time to enjoy just being alive?

I read articles all the time, mostly in AARP publications, about seniors who are still working into their 70's and 80's.  These folks claim to be just as sharp and productive, sometimes more so, than their younger counterparts.  But I wonder.  Is it their mind that is deciding that or some true laboratory research?  I will readily admit that I am not as sharp as I was in my 20's. 

I even thought of these folks the other day when I read the online articles about older folks driving.  These 80-year olds who were commenting all claimed to be better drivers than younger people.  As someone who lives in an area where there are lots of older drivers (some who can barely see over the steering wheel), I can tell you this is not true.  But I am sure they all believe it.  Driving 25 in a 45 MPH zone does not make you a good driver.

Years ago I was at a brunch and was talking to the Dean of a University Business School.  After many years in the position, he made the announcement that he was retiring.  I asked him what prompted his decision.  He told me that sometimes you just know 'when to leave'.  Hmmmm.  He was absolutely right.  I just knew that after 20+ years, it was 'time to leave'.  No regrets.  Hey, if I was working you would not be reading this.  I wouldn't have the time.

Have a great day.  I know I will.

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