The day I officially retired was not the joy-filled, livin’-the-dream scenario it is for others. No ceremonial parties. No gold watches. Though it was my own choice, it was a somewhat sad and gloomy day.
While all transitions are difficult, this one felt like staring into an abyss.
What would I do without the daily routine and structure? How could I replace the camaraderie of an office full of colleagues? How would I feel about myself without the mantle of the familiar professional role I’d played for all those years?
And, of course, the word itself --retirement-- conjures up images of RVs, golfing communities, and all those jokes about wives conspiring to get their husbands out of the house.
Now, some nine months later, my perspective has shifted. While the addiction to the full-time office job and all that entailed was strong, and the weaning was difficult, I have a new sense of what matters, and what to do about it.
What I’m slowly learning is that it’s possible to accomplish as much or more in a given day or week. It’s also possible to feel more satisfied, not less, about how that time is being spent.
The key, for me and I’m guessing for many others, is figuring out 1) how to create enough legitimate structure and 2) how to work with… and be around… other ambitious independent workers.
In case you haven’t yet guessed, I’ve become a consultant. While that may sound like a euphemism for a number of dubious pursuits, in my case, it’s paved the way to an expansive new career path with unexpected benefits.
For starters, I’ve found myself much more interested… genuinely interested… in both the work itself and the people with whom I’m working.
Because I don’t have all the resources I once had instantly available, I’ve been forced to learn quite a few new skills and new ways of working.
Instead of worrying about budgets and timing, I’m thinking about the good I might be able to do for a particular client or cause.
And, of course, I now have the time to explore and immerse myself far more deeply in a number of outside interests and projects, which seem to multiply as time goes on.
Did all of this happen overnight? Not exactly. But little by little, I’ve discovered the passion I originally felt for my work is not only still readily available, but surprisingly portable.
It turns out there’s a remarkably large world beyond the four walls of an office.