Is 56 the new 17?


Pondering what retirement may look like


The teenage angst of “what do I want to do with my life” seems to be bubbling up again… except now I am 56.

I was lucky in that I didn’t feel as much angst as my daughters did when they were trying to decide on what to do in university. There weren’t as many options back when I was 17 and trying to decide what to do after high school. I was good at math and thought I might be interested in business so I chose to do a business degree and would figure out where to go after that.

It was a completely different story 27 years later when my first daughter went down the path of choosing her university program. She struggled with making a choice. Somehow feeling like this one choice would define the rest of her life. I wasn’t too worried about what degree she chose to pursue. The process and discipline of getting a degree is valuable in my opinion – regardless of the type of degree. I told her to just pick something and try it to see if she liked it and if she didn’t, she could change.

Yet, now as I ponder what retirement might look like I seem to be behaving like a 17 year old. Afraid to start because I am worried that I may not like it. Afraid I will make a mistake that I can’t take back if I stop working. I wonder what would happen if I told my 56 year old self what I tell all young people when they struggle to make a choice on a path: You don’t know who you will become so just keep adding to your experiences and they will all be valuable in some way.

So I guess that is what I will do over the coming months… just pick something other than work that is new and see if I like it.