We’ve all been there and done that, right? We’ve questioned our work but also wondered, what’ll I do if I quit? Well, from the looks of this essay that writer R.S. Gompertz sent BoomerCafé from his home in Seattle, his only question is, Did I Just Retire?
Retirement. The word conjures conflicting images of golf courses, exotic cruises, remodeling the kitchen, and finally organizing the overflowing garage.
None of which interest me.
In this, my first attempt at retirement, I want to travel, volunteer, and play guitar late into the night. My writing habit will no longer need to be squeezed into the brief moments between sunrise and my first conference call. A Tuesday night jam session will no longer destroy my productivity for the rest of the week.
My 30 year life in high tech has been one of relentless deadlines, audacious goals, and always feeling like the dumbest kid in smart class. I’ve committed more PowerPoint than I care to admit while collaborating across time zones, geographies, and cultures. I’ve herded cats and navigated “seagulls” (e.g. high fliers who shit everywhere and leave a mess for others to clean up). I’ve worked with inspiring colleagues, had brilliant mentors, and endured a few Type-A tyrants who need to improve their social skills.
While I’ve never met a budget I’ve met, or seen a best laid plan go according to plan, I’m proud of the iconic products I’ve shipped.
And now, I’m shipping out.
Co-worker reactions were a mixed bag full of goodwill, playful jealousy, and minor resentment. Those who protested that I’m too young may have missed the point. I want to enjoy life while I have some left.
I’m relishing the prospect of disconnecting from the management marathons, scratchy Skype calls, and round-the-clock email avalanches. It will be nice to feel like I’m not juggling ticking time bombs or and not waking up at 3AM stressing over something that can easily wait until morning.
As a soon-to-be-former project manager, I’ve been trained to mitigate risks and stomp on FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). I’ve learned to blast through indecision, overturn analysis-paralysis, and break complex scenarios into bite-sized, hopefully manageable chunks.
Maybe that’s how I’ve managed to write three novels in the midst of the daily grind. Two of them, quixotic farces set in the ancient Roman Empire, were directly inspired by the organized chaos of the workplace. Retirement may rob me of this inspiration, but I’ve learned to trust the magic. Other inspiration awaits.
I’m still bothered by the word retirement though. It sounds exhausted, passive, and final as a gold watch with few ticks remaining. Re-energizing, re-architecting, and re-connecting are better words for this next phase in my life.
This isn’t about slowing down. Just changing direction. I can’t quite see what’s out there, but I’m ready to explore.