I recently had a birthday, and have reached the stage in life where some of my peers are starting to talk about phased retirement. In thinking about this for myself, it would be great to be able to spend more time with my family (including my new granddaughter).
In truth, I am nowhere near ready to take that step. I find my job more exhilarating than ever. My research is exciting – with some of the advances we have contributed to in the laboratory now showing promise in clinical trials. We continue to explore new ideas and I have a superb team of researchers working with me in my own laboratory and through collaborations. The entire field I have been working on for decades – cancer immunotherapy – is incredibly exciting and finally getting the attention it deserves, with even greater progress to come. My administrative efforts in the Cancer Center are also stimulating with multiple new initiatives and new opportunities. Some are focused on our own institution and others are collaborative efforts with other cancer centers. These include, but are not limited to: new efforts to leverage our ever-growing understanding of the molecular nature of cancer to accelerate both laboratory research and benefit patients, expanding our portfolio of novel clinical trials, caring for the unique needs of adolescent and young adult patients, and building on our ability to address the psychosocial needs of our patients. It is a particular pleasure for me to see younger physicians, scientists, nurses and other staff that we have mentored hit their strides as their careers develop. Most exciting of all is seeing the patients who are benefiting from this progress. I plan for each of these challenges and opportunities to be a topic of a blog in the next year. All told, it would be very hard to start to walk away at this point in time.
Nevertheless, in thinking about the concept of phased retirement, I decided it was at least worth going through the exercise of identifying the part of my job I do not like. What would be the first to go if I were to pursue phased retirement? The answer to this question is easy. There is one thing I have dreaded every morning for the past three decades as I get ready to work. I hate wearing ties. When I put on a tie, it is always too long or too short. Throughout the day, I dislike the tight feeling of the tie around my neck. I often each lunch at my desk while answering e-mails, and on multiple occasions, have found my tie and my lunch sharing the same space. This is not good for either my tie or my lunch.
So, there is my answer. With this blog, I am declaring officially that I am entering a new phase in my career and that my ties are on phased retirement. Yes, I will keep a few in my desk drawer and wear one when absolutely needed, but I will no longer be putting on a tie every morning before I come to work.
If you see me in the hall with an open collar, feel free to ask me how this new phase of my life is going (with the understanding I may respond by showing you a picture of my grand-daughter). Over the next few months I will decide what comes next in this journey – come to think of it, I am not crazy about putting socks on every morning either.