September 30 marked the official date of my retirement. Although I left the office on June 15 I have been taking unused vacation — an indication of what a workaholic I had become prior to retirement. Who would accumulate over 3 months of vacation time without an insane devotion to an organization?
So after spending the summer ‘on vacation’ I am now unemployed and fully retired. Last week I went to the office to turn in my blackberry, my laptop, my internet air card, some books and other equipment. It was a relief to unload all of the stuff that had been filling my life and cluttering my desk in my home office. Seeing my colleagues after an absence of over 3 months was wonderful. I was happy to see them, and I daresay, they were also happy to see me. Having lunch with a close co-worker provided an opportunity to catch up on happenings over the summer, news around the office, and to change a ‘work’ relationship to one of friendly exchange and fun..
As we shared stories and laughed at old jokes I realized that there were many aspects of work that I missed — and, of course, many things that I was happy to leave behind. Ironically, it was the small things that created a twinge of nostalgia — things like the easy camaraderie, the insider comments, and the familiar rhythm of each day. But there was a great relief to know that I was no longer involved with nor responsible for decisions involving organizational funding, government relations, media activity, staffing, or member services. Most of all, there was no sense that I had to hurry back from lunch to respond to emails or prepare for meetings.
The day was one of mixed and strange feelings that I am still processing. I felt a strong sense of liberation as I drove my car out of the underground parking lot. There was a certain amount of sadness as I realized that I was no longer part of the day to day life of the office but there was also a giddy pleasure because I knew that I was free to head home in the middle of the day, sit on my patio and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.
Truly, the overall experience was bittersweet. The pain of knowing something had ended mixed with the happiness of facing a new lifestyle free of commitments and responsibility brought the realization that this phase of my life was really over.
It was clear that I was no longer part of the daily life of the office — people had moved on, the organization had begun to move on. And I had also moved on with my life. I was no longer strongly identified with the organization. Having taken the summer to decompress and disengage I was ready to face the ‘final’ ending.
Frank Sinatra’s song My Way comes to mind as I write this post. Previously, in blog posts I have mused about the importance of endings as building blocks for new beginnings. I smile as I think of the My Way lyrics ‘regrets, I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention……….. there were times, I’m sure you know when I bit off more than I could chew……..I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way’.
Postworksavvy learnings from the day are many including that endings create mixed emotions and that endings are bittersweet. As noted in previous posts, however, endings do set the foundation for new beginnings. As I reflect on the lyrics of the beautiful song My Way I know that my work years were characterized by “yes, it was my way’ and that my retirement will be similar. Future posts will continue to describe the new possibilities and the excitement of these changes as I continue to live my life in ‘my way’.
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