After a fairly intense 25-year corporate career, I recently opted for early retirement at age 55. On August 15, I turned in my BlackBerry, laptop, American Express, and security badge, packed up a few family pictures and files from my office, and walked out the door. It felt like the weight of the world off my shoulders! I shocked more than a few people with my decision, as I was at the height of my career and earning potential and few could see me sitting at home doing nothing all day. For crying out loud, I don’t even do the cooking, cleaning or laundry at home and we recently achieved empty-nester status with our son off to college in Annapolis. My biggest hobby is reading People magazine when it appears in the mailbox each Friday, and reading a book a month for my book club. Co-workers consistently asked me “So what will you DO, Betsy?!!”
Some were disappointed that I was another woman opting out of the climb to the corner office and I carried some “survivor guilt” as I walked out the door leaving the myriad corporate and gender battles unwon. But I was burned out from the job and the battles and more than ready for a change. And I had no fire in my belly to chase the elusive brass ring for the C-suite. Plus, my already-retired husband is 13 years older than I am. After overseeing end of life care for both of my parents the past ten years, I know how quickly one’s health (and life) can change and I wanted to make sure my husband and I had the time to travel together while we both still have our health. A health scare last year (that turned out to be a false alarm) sealed the deal for me.
In my career, I was a retirement consultant/lawyer, so the financial side of retirement was well-thought-out and planned. But the personal and emotional aspects of retirement not so much. It was a journey getting to retirement from my corporate career, and now I see another journey ahead transitioning into the next phase of my life, one that is not so well planned. So as I embark, I decided to start a blog to document my first year of retirement for posterity. Of my friends my age with careers, I am the first to take the retirement plunge and there seems to be interest in hearing how this goes. I am honored and humbled to be the guinea pig in this experiment.