While no leaves are changing color yet, yesterday was the start of the school year for our son, who is now a senior in high school. Just as I count the last year of working before early retirement, he is slowly counting down the days and weeks until he graduates and leaves home for college next fall.
I’ve been watching my calendar since April 1st of this year. Each day marks “the last” day, week, month, or annual activity that I plan on spending in the workforce. I’m currently sitting at 31 weeks remaining as my plans still focus on April 1, 2016. (The stock market plunge of -1100 points in the last 2 days hasn’t scared me off too much … yet)
I’ve written about the number of countdowns that I have created (including Post-it flags and devious numbers hidden in presentation title pages), but none are as meaningful or momentous as the change of seasons. With cool weather descending on our state over the last few days, it is certainly starting to feel like autumn with cool mornings, fall sports, and flocks of geese starting to signal the change. My son heading back to school yesterday has certainly magnified the impact.
Even my work computer seems to be agreeing. Like many companies, Megacorp makes us change our password every 90 days with a formula of letters, capitals, numbers and punctuation marks. I use a word highly associated with the name of the current season (summer might be ‘beach’) as part of my password structure, so that I can remember it. As the seasons pass the new passwords celebrate the change and mark the time. When I get a stern, automated “You must change your password” notice from IT, I know I’ve actually hit a big milestone. I got my latest notice this morning, reminding me that another season has gone.
Since I started counting down my final year at work, the seasons (and my password) have already changed from a spring theme to a summer one. Because the rhythm of the work year at Megacorp follows the seasons, I’ve seen my last summer interns, summer team boat outings, summer mid-year reviews, and June strategic plan presentations. We are now heading into fall which will include a variety of autumnal activities at Megacorp that I will engage in for the final time.
Despite my stealthy, short-term status, I find that my commitment to the work has not waned. If anything, I find my focus on delivering results and driving change strengthening. Thoughts of early retirement vanish quickly when you get in a business meeting and focus on serving the needs of our customers. In addition, perhaps my skin has gotten a little thicker when it comes to dealing with corporate bureaucracy – knowing it will only bedevil me for a limited time. Where I’ve heard other people get more sensitive to workplace B.S. as they approach early retirement, I think to myself “who cares” – in about six months I’ll be leaving the challenges for a new lifestyle.
Like my son, the high school senior – I think one’s final lap is to be savored, not suffered through. I’m thinking of it as a ‘final lap’ of sorts, where the outcome of the race has already decided (and I’ve won). My approach is like that of a Henry David Thoreau passage: “’Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each.’”
Are you more likely to glide through your final lap and enjoy it? Or, be rather impatient & impertinent?
Image Credit: Pixabay