Friday, November 6, 2015

Learn | Work | Play

Shout it from the rooftops: I have officially entered the “play” phase of my life. Yes, I am happily retired from a 32-year career in corporate America.  It’s not that I haven’t played throughout my life, but now play will no longer be reserved for weekends and vacations. I can’t believe the day has actually arrived, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  When my financial planner casually mentioned during our annual session that I could retire when I was a “certain age,” I replied, “the end of that year or what?”  When she responded, “No, on your birthday,” which happens to be in January, I was amazed and a bit hesitant.

Retiring is a big change, especially when you consider not working again, or if you do work, certainly not with the same income you’ve been bringing in. So, as many folks do, I agonized over it for a bit and told myself I was pretty happy with my job and could work a year or two beyond that date as long as I was still enjoying myself. 

At that point, I was having a grand time. I worked essentially for three bosses: the BIG boss for whom I did most of my work, his direct report whom I supported in a variety of ways and finally my actual manager.  For my official job for my immediate manager, I managed a team of two talented folks who did the real work of writing training manuals and communications.  The work I did for the top two execs involved executive communications, employee engagement, and meeting planning--work I enjoyed immensely.

That situation came to a screeching halt when my BIG boss started a six-month leave of absence. When he left, 60% of my work went with him. After a reorg, I was asked who I could let go in my little 3-person department, and I replied, “Me” and explained how the team could function fine without me and suggested various leaders they could work for. We dodged that bullet, but my peers and I began reading the tea leaves and anticipating some kind of lay-off.  If you’ve ever worked in corporate America, you recognize this scenario: Strategies change, we centralize, we decentralize and do it over again, and it’s often difficult to see rhyme or reason in the decisions.

The good news for me is that my job was eventually eliminated, and I received the typical corporate package to safely carry me beyond my planned retirement date. The bad news was that 2/3 of the employees on our team were also let go, including my two folks. 

It has been a bittersweet few weeks since we got the news. I am ecstatic for myself but sad for those who are faced with finding new jobs.  Many had worked for this company for 20-40 years, so it’s a gut-wrenching change. We’re all staying connected via a Facebook group, and I'm confident people will eventually land on their feet.

Had the last few months not been so tumultuous and unsettling, I might have continued to agonize over retiring sooner rather than later. Instead, I was eager to go.  So, picture me not only shredding the work documents I've collected while working at home the past sixteen years, but also breathing a sigh of relief, enjoying my initial taste of freedom, sleeping in, eating lunch out, and having more time to write. Life is good.

Puddin', the office manager, guarding shredded files
Have a comment? Write me and Puddin’ at The Ink Penn.

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Lord Banjo, Puddin', and I take turns writing these blogs, and we'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.