Dad Admired Me For Taking Risks

Huffing and puffing our way up Geary Boulevard in San Francisco, my dad and I had a conversation I’ll always remember. “I admire you,” he said. Really? Shouldn’t I be saying this to him? He said, “You take risks.” Dad admired me for taking risks? That was noteworthy.

I couldn’t believe my “follow the rules” dad was actually saying he approved of my “risky” lifestyle. It was definitely risky by his standards with all places I’d lived, the jobs I’d had and the schools I attended. As a result, I successfully avoided his life choices of having only one adult job and living in the same house for 40 years. I guess by age 86 he was mellowing a bit.

In addition, he said that he wished he’d taken more risks in his life. I’ve often wondered what he would have done differently. No, I didn’t ask and I will always regret not knowing.

Risk taking is so subjective. Until that moment, I never thought of myself as a risk taker. I’ve always wanted to experience new places and try new things, so I have. While I look at change as  positive. I know my dad struggled with change. Change and risk were intertwined in his world.

Retirement comes with a whole new set of risks. Money, emotions, identity, relationships,  purpose and health are all up for change. At age 86, I know my dad had his share of changes and survived them with grace. His retirement actually precipitated many of them. Now he was a risk taker whether he liked it or not.

As he looked at me and the life I’ve lived, I believe he was telling me to continue taking risks. Because he’d learned how important risk taking and acceptance of change become as you age. Perhaps it was his way of acknowledging he should have embraced risk sooner in life.  But I’ll never know. I’d like to think he would enjoyed life more if he’d taken his own advice.

At any rate, I’ll take risks.  It’s risky not to pay attention when your dad is telling you something important.


Many readers find themselves stuck in planning for retirement. Retirement Style offers a number of resources, including our 30 Day Journaling Challenge, to help you get unstuck in working towards your best retirement. If you would like to speak to a certified retirement coach about your personal journey, please contact us.

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