I always imagined that a person decides to retire in a moment when they just know,  like you know about a good melon.

That, of course, was my top question for Diane Carter on Monday upon her decision to announce her retirement from the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination and the American Association of Directors of Nursing Services in April. She’s led the groups since 1999 and 2016.

Her announcement followed Frank Grosso announcing that he will be leaving the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists in 2018. He’ll stay on until a new executive director and CEO are found.

Since I have a tendency to make everything about me, my first thought upon reading both of these announcements is “But I like them.” In both cases, they told me, alas, there wasn’t a melon moment. Grosso, via email, said that for him “it’s more about cutting back. I’m not really ready to retire.” He had previously pointed out that the time to leave an organization is when things are going well.

For Carter, she also didn’t have a moment, but said it happened over time. Turning 65 a few weeks ago also gave her time to reflect. Despite her love and passion for long-term care nurses, she said she thinks the organizations can benefit from someone “with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t have that, but I’ve been interested in policy and research my whole career,” she points out. She said she’s at the point where she wants to think about other professional goals, such as writing and aspects related to policy.

Additionally, both of her parents are in their late 80s.

“You do start to think about having time available to spend with them and love them up and be sure they know that my husband and I are available,” she said. Plus, in addition to spending rescue dogs Buddy and Maggie, Carter is looking forward to traveling with her husband, John.

None of that is to say that a decision to cut back or retire is easy.

“It has to be one of the toughest, if not the toughest, decision I’ve ever made,” she told me. “There’s no group I’ve ever been as passionate about then long-term care nurses. You can’t find a better group of people. It’s hard to say goodbye to that. I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Grosso and Carter will be missed as leaders. Of course, bear in mind that our concepts of retirement have changed. My father, upon retiring from being a school superintendent, lasted about a day as a retiree before become an executive recruiter for school systems, which I thought of as a short-term gig. That was eight years ago.

Although many of us may fantasize about our golden years with a piña colada in one hand and a celebrity magazine in the other while we lounge on a remote beach, the truth is technology has made it easy to dip in and out. In other words, don’t count out hearing again from Grosso, Carter or, for that matter, Larry Minnix. That’s a benefit – experience counts, and it makes it easier to say good-bye when it’s temporary.

Follow Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman @TigerELN.