Decision-making is not always easy. It can be so difficult that we are known to sometimes avoid it altogether. But we are foolish if we are to believe that avoiding it will make the need to decide, go away. The act of not deciding, after all, is a decision. The hard part comes in taking action on the decision.
Taking action is something I excel in. In fact, taking action is often easier for me than deciding what action to take. When I was deciding to retire, it was a period of reflection and projecting. And because I am deeply committed to my husband and want to spend the rest of my life with him, I relied on him to reflect and project alongside me. Okay, let’s be truthful here, I forced that upon him.
I was on a trajectory that had me teaching for four more years in order to eliminate one penalty from my pension. The education system provides a pension to state employees who fulfill the prescribed obligations within it. At my level, that prescription was to teach 30 years and obtain the age of either 55 or 62. Anything less in either category means a penalty is assessed on the pension.
Being a career changer, I started teaching at age 41. I had pieced together my career with short-term jobs before the birth of our first child, at age 28. And so here I was, at age 56, being told I have my job in the fall, but at half-time and half-pay. Ahhh, the joys of having the FU money to decide my fate and not be told what that would be. By the simple passing of time and the natural progression of aging, I eliminated one penalty. Not so for the other two. And so, after teaching full time for one school district for 16 years, it would come to pass that my pension factor would be about 21 percent of my salary and not 40 percent if I taught four more years or 60 percent if I taught fourteen more. See how easy these penalties and factors can impede the decision-making process?
It helped when I chose to look at it this way: In return for teaching and working in an occupation I dearly loved and found a huge degree of joy and satisfaction in, I had the benefit of also earning a pension for the rest of my life. Let me tell you, that is something I appreciate and don’t dismiss or take for granted.
And so it was, an easy decision.
Keep reading for the joys and journey’s that one simple (ahem) decision has led us on.