A couple of days after my last post in early March on writing a personal mission statement, I re-entered the paid workforce …. hence the recent blog silence.
I’m back at a desk just a few feet away from the desk I retired from two+ years ago. The reactions range from joyous hugs and delightful catch-up chats, to speechless gob-smacked stares laced with implications of distrust — along the lines of ‘You couldn’t wait to leave, and now you’re back?’
When I retired, everyone wanted to know “what’s it like” to be retired? Now everyone wants to know “what’s it like” to come back? Of course, they also want to know W-H-Y did you do this???? … that’s a topic for another day.
One of the images I use to describe it, is the experience of returning to an old work group to help out with something, after being transferred out:
There’s a constant stream of feel-good mini reunions at the coffee bar, the copier, and even in the restrooms. You know all the Ins and Outs of the place. You feel like an Insider, but you’re free like an Outsider — like my favorite admin in the whole world wrote on my whiteboard “you know the rules round here, so don’t bother me 🙂“. You’re Connected to the place and the people, but you’re not Bound by them. The banter and the rhythm of the cubicles warms the heart, rather than irritating your concentration. The urgent need to have a voice in discussions, debates, decisions, and plans has evaporated — you won’t have to live with those outcomes. Your input is defined by professional experience, rather than mixed with personal agendas. You’re there for a short-term task, not a long-term career. The invitation to focus on a specific task is liberating. The swirl of peripherally relevant information can simply be ignored, rather than piling up in oppressive Must-Read later folders. A strategy of maintaining cordial relations with everyone becomes a matter of personal character and choice, rather than a survival strategy, because “you never know if you might have to work for them some day”. It’s gratifying to see many seeds, that you were a part in planting, continuing to grow and find new gardeners to tend to them after you left.
The only real pressure is a personal drive to deliver my best. Maybe that was the only real pressure all along, and I lost that perspective. It’s invigorating to recapture it!
In answering “what’s it like” to go back, I’d say it’s fun … for now. It’s a rare opportunity to go back and revisit a part of your past and add some finishing touches. I’m thankful to RDJ and LG, who were bold enough to ask me.