I started working in financial services in 1987; right about the year 2000, a woman came to me and posed an interesting idea.  Peggy, like many others, had lost money in the technology crash of 2000 and asked if I would manage her money while she went to volunteer with the Peace Corps.  As she shared her idea, I agreed to help her.

Peggy was already 60 and had to fight even to be admitted to the Peace Corps. Then, to her shock, she was offered a mission to teach and lead a village in the Kingdom of Lesotho, Africa, to develop their economic strengths by using what they had available.

This was her personal retirement reinvention.  Her initial plan was to delay taking Social Security (so her monthly benefit would increase each year) and wait four years for her retirement portfolio to grow as well.

While Peggy was in the Peace Corps, she regularly mailed her updates to us, and we published them in the Smart Women Blog as “Letters from Africa,” as we called them. They were so popular and eye-opening that she developed a huge following. 

Peggy has not only permitted me to share her story, but when she returned from her four-year journey, I interviewed her HERE on Smart Women Talk.  She also received the “Smart Woman of the Year Award” at one of our fundraisers. 

Now this is the best part.  Right after she returned home, we met for lunch at J. Alexander’s, a hip lunch spot near my old office. We both ordered grilled salmon on salad. As her financial advisor, I asked her if she was happy with her financial situation now that she had returned. 

Peggy answered, “Katana, I had to fetch my water from a dirty river and live in a hut with a mud floor.  Today, I can’t even believe I’m drinking this clean water out of a beautiful glass with ICE CUBES!  After living the way I did in my hut, I don’t even need my retirement portfolio. In fact, my Social Security feels like a millionaire lifestyle!” 

Although her response really surprised me, what she said next took my breath away. Peggy’s dream was to pull $20,000 from her IRA, so she could go back and build a well for her village. Yes, that is correct! 

Peggy was good on her promise too. She went back to Lesotho and paid for her village to build their well so they could all have clean and fresh water.  I’m sure she got her hands dirty too!

Peggy was just a regular gal, just like most of us. How did she pull off this crazy dream?  She took the same six steps I laid out in the Unlock Your Financial Power Course in the Smart Women’s Academy

Her journey started with a Dream, followed by Discovery, then she took the Leap and created her Plan, and then she was in the Dance when she finally reached Mastery!  What do you think happened next?  Just like so many of us, when we reach Mastery, we have a new Dream.  Peggy did, too; it was to build her well! 

The secret was trusting the process and believing in herself and her village. 

Remember, Peggy’s Dream started out much differently than it ended up. You see, this is exactly what happens to us most of the time, and if we aren’t careful, we will get distracted, derailed, and second-guess ourselves. Then the magic just stops. 

Allow yourself to dream.  Find someone you can trust who will hold you as powerful even when you can’t.  Surround yourself with other like-minded people who will also empower you.  And never give up.  Like Peggy Tabor, you may just end up with may just surprise you!

Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Midlife Millionaires® Coach and Certified Social Security Claiming Specialist, and the host of Smart Women Talk. For over 35 years, Katana has helped Baby Boomers plan for retirement, including how to create lifetime income, how to optimize their Social Security benefits, launch an encore career, and prepare for long-term care.  She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Businesswomen, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new retirement guide, Three Smart Strategies to Maximize Your Retirement Income, visit www.katanaabbott.com.