I thought the day would never come...and now it's here....my last day of work. Talk about mixed emotions. Looking back over the past few years, I realize that my decision took many twists and turns. There was the fatigue factor (both physical and mental), the economic down-turn, the fact that I actually like my job, and lastly, my friends and colleagues began retiring. While the decision to retire wasn't easy, it was calculated. Before I announced my decision, I considered my income, healthcare benefits, lifestyle, and what "retirement" would look like for me. I talked to advisers, HR benefit counselors, friends, family, and I did a lot of talking to myself. I mostly questioned who I would be if I wasn't in my job. My identity seemed wrapped up in what I did rather than who I was.
I did the obligatory financial check-up and began using my healthcare benefits to do all my physical check-ups. Anything that needed fixing got fixed, while I had the coverage. I also began developing a plan for what my retirement would look like. It would be active, so I set some physical goals like running in a 5K race. I enlisted other retired friends to form a "Do Stuff Club." We're going to get together regularly and do stuff! I extended my fitness goal to losing 20 lbs. I've got 5 more to go. I also vowed to improve my golf game and get back to playing my beloved tennis.
My retirement is also going to be "involved." I carefully and thoughtfully cultivated relationships with my alma mater, offering to be on the alumna council, and volunteering to teach an ESL course to international students. I also plan to take advantage of the "Senior Citizen Audit Program" at a nearby university. Imagine taking courses you've always wanted to take, purely for the sake of learning. No exams. No grades. Just audit and learn.
I'll admit that I got a little nostalgic as I drove to work today. It would be the last time I'd fight with commuter traffic on the highway; the last time I'd stop for jay-walkers coming off the commuter train; the last time I'd climb three flights of rickety stairs to get to my too hot or too cold office. But hey, it was my too hot or too cold office.
What makes it OK is that I know it won't be the last time I see or get in touch with colleagues that I really care about. That's the beauty of Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and yes...the telephone.
The last thing I need to consider is who I am outside of my job. I'm sure my children and grandchildren think they know the answer, but they haven't really seen the professional side of me. They don't know that I can be a tough manager, kind mentor, compassionate counselor, and Rah-Rah team leader. I am full of institutional and life-experience knowledge that I have yet to exhaust. I hope I never stop learning, but I hope I never stop sharing either. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings...besides a chance to "sleep in."