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Leaving your work life behind

Thoughts after a year of retirement. 

There are many periods of transition in life. Being born, dying (the ultimate transitions), and of course, many in between. Entering school, exiting school/entering the work force, bringing up a family and finally (?) exiting the work force/retiring. Those are “big bucket” items. I went through this last transition over the past year, though I continue to resist to admit that I am “retired”. I’m simply looking for my next adventure.

That said, I have experienced a number of unexpected feelings and events since exiting the business world. I thought I’d share a few. When it comes your time to go through this stage, see if you have any similar experiences.

* No-one is indispensable. I said that all the time, but I didn’t necessarily believe it when it came to my role. How wrong I was. The world, and the business, ticks on. Things may be different, but they continue. And the time it takes to erase my image from the portrait of the business is incredibly short.

* I can’t live without the business. Wrong again. The only thing that I miss is the people that I have worked with for so long. I really felt as if the group that we had at work was like a family. At least to me. But the pressure of owning the business and responsibility for ensuring its success? That was an easy, instant relief.

* Self-identification and self-worth. I’ve often heard that people (esp. men, perhaps) identify their sense of self worth with their work. I know this is true in my case. Over the last few months, I have found myself at odds. I don’t know what to do in terms of a “direction” (golf doesn’t count). I see myself as less important by being at home and “not adding value” by working. People say that you need to do things to “keep busy”. To me, that implies that you are really of no value if you simply filling your time just to keep busy. This is a challenge that I’m trying to cope with.

* Nature abhors a vacuum. While I used to occupy myself day and night with the business, I can’t do that anymore. So, what to do? I must say that Wanda has indicated she likes having me around, and I like being with her. And, both ways, that’s a great accomplishment after 34 years. I actually fix things around the house. I am now the proud owner of a small table saw, have organized the garage and have built or repaired all kinds of things around the house. Never knew I could do that. But at the same time, it’s the kind of stuff that “little old men” do, and I’m not ready to admit to that.

* Timing is everything. The timing of the sale and stepping out of the business was perfect. My daughter had a baby. Our dog (unfortunately) got sick. My mom is 92 and needs more help. Before I was always too busy. Now, I have time be there for the birth and growth of my grandson, to spend time my dear dog every day, to see my mom regularly and take her to appointments, etc. Got to keep things in perspective. These things are more important than any business meeting.

* Time to think – good and bad. There’s a lot more time to think when you don’t have work in the way. That’s good because you can take time to try to articulate goals to yourself and lay out a course without the day-to-day pressures of work. However, it can also be bad. I have never believed in being sick. While working, I didn’t have time to really thing about it. While I still don’t believe in being sick, now I have more time to feel aches and pains. I firmly believe that it’s best to be active and not have the time to acknowledge them. Working on that!

* The transitory nature of life. We know that things in life are temporary, but I think we all like to delude ourselves that we have all the time in the world. Yesterday we had to let Susie, our dear pet, go. It was incredibly difficult. As I finish this note, I still expect her to come down the stairs, looking for food. But I know it won’t happen. Don’t take things, or people, or pets, or anything, for granted. Love them while you can. And then remember them with love for as long as you live.