As this post is published, I am getting up for another work week at MegaCorp. I’ve gotten up for work on about 1,400 Monday mornings since I started working almost 27 years ago. That said, the last couple of weeks have been quite different, as the shadows of my career are starting to get longer since I announced my pending early retirement two weeks ago . This MILESTONE post reflects on what it is like to go to work when you’ve announced you aren’t going to go to work anymore.
My last day is 5 weeks away, so I am gradually winding down these last weeks, waiting for the person who is going to replace me to be announced so that I can transition leadership of key initiatives to them. I’m not sure anyone has yet been picked for my role, or if they are doing a broad search. I don’t expect to be involved, nor would I really want to be.
Here are a couple things that have changed in the meanwhile …
- LESS MEETINGS – About a third of the meetings on my calendar immediately disappeared. A typical day for me was 8–10 meetings, each 30 or 60 minutes. When many of those meetings suddenly disappear, and there is a lot more time to get caught up on things.
- AWKWARD INVOLVEMENT – People don’t really know if they should include me in new initiatives or not. Some don’t know I am leaving, so I make sure to tell them before we start anything. Others ask me, “do you want to be involved in this?” I usually say it is up to them – I am here until 4/1, but I certainly don’t need to be involved. Our organizational matrix is such that a lot of people are included in meetings to ensure no one feels left out, but that doesn’t apply to me any more.
- SLEEPING IN – I certainly am not going into the office as early as I typically did. I just look at my meeting calendar and if I don’t have anything until 9 AM, I don’t show up until 8:55 AM. I used to be pretty good about getting in before 8 AM to get a jump on the day. I’ve also have been taking advantage of the opportunity to sneak out for an extended lunch hour, cut out early in the afternoon if there aren’t any meetings.
- STRAIGHT TALK – People think I am more outspoken and flip than I have been in the past, especially in small groups and when we’re out to lunch. Frankly, I think I have always been outspoken and flip at the office. A boss once said about me and a friend “They don’t know how we do things around here,” to which I replied “I know how things are done, I just don’t care.” You know what? I care even less now.
- SAVOR THE SMALL – I find I am taking real pleasure in some of the the small things at work. Chatting at the printer, going to MegaCorp cafeteria, browsing the company store, and checking out the company art collection. All things I will not see again in retirement. Another small thing I’m enjoying is clicking the ‘decline’ button on team meeting notices that are being scheduled between now and the end of the year. It gives you a real appreciation for what you are escaping!
I thought my lame duck status would almost immediately change my role from critical to worthless on key initiatives, but in fact at this point I am still quite involved in most of the major projects I had been leading before I announced my early retirement. While my coworkers are aware and comment on my pending departure, I am surprised by how much people still want me to take the lead on things. I would think people would have taken the opportunity to take over the more interesting initiatives or poach parts of my organization.
Today I have a pretty full schedule of meetings, but I imagine in a couple more weeks I will be ‘dead man walking’ in the hallways. I expect that people stop relying on me for things that have a 30 or 60 days horizon – and I don’t have the same horizon. I think it will be hard to be ignored for things my opinion was once valued for, but that is an inevitability. We have spring break planned in a couple weeks, so that will probably be the break point.
While the work continues, for many people, I seem to have taken on a certain novelty status. They’ve heard I am leaving, but it doesn’t quite add up to them in terms of how I could leave before I turn 50. As I have posted before, for most people the math just does not add up and they look at me like I have won the lottery or something like that. A few people have asked me to sit down and help them think about how they could retire early and I have connected a lot of them to this website to learn more.
Overall, it has been a fun, but surreal experience. It will be interesting to see how it changes as we get closer the my FIRE escape date.
Image Credit: Pixabay