Tuesday is my last day at Whirlpool. I accepted a Voluntary Retirement Package about 5 weeks ago, and it’s been a bit of an emotional journey. There were days that I was excited. There were days where I questioned my decision. I had a few long nights of worry about finances and retirement funds running dry. But those things worried me less and less as time wore on. The first 2-3 weeks I moved files for my team and reassigned documents. I made a transition spreadsheet for my yet-to-be-named successor with notes and links on all of my important projects. The work of transition kept me busy and engaged.
About 2 weeks ago, I finished that work and began to have my last 1:1s with my team. I documented my performance feedback for them and discussed it with each team member. It was during those meetings that I felt the shift to closure. In meetings, I started to let my team take the reins and make decisions without me. I found myself more interested in closure with my team than with the work. And thoughts of the future started to bubble up.
I don’t have any idea what will come next. My typical reaction would be to start looking at job boards, engaging my network and start envisioning where I might want to move. But this time I’ve been given the gift of time. Even if I hadn’t, I’m not sure now is the time to look for jobs anyway. I get time to explore my options.
One night as I was laying awake worrying about what was next, I listened to a “masterclass” on the Calm App. I got a lot of good pointers on mindful living from Ryan Holiday (author of The Obstacle is the Way), but one thing really resonated with me. Marcus Aurelius says “Convince yourself that everything that happens is a gift from the gods.” In fact, Holiday says we should attempt to LOVE whatever happens to us.
I thought of the many times in my life when something bad happened to me, but, in hindsight, those events were catalysts for major good. What if I anticipate and believe this will be one of those times? Honestly, I’ve been dreaming for many years of a different style of life but the need for an income trumped those soulful desires. Now I have a gift of having an income while I explore – at least for awhile. And perhaps the gift is sweeter since the distraction of travel is not a great option.
I have to work a couple more days, but, honestly, I’m done. I’ve transitioned my work. I’ve said good-bye to my team. I’ve cleaned out my desk. I’m looking at my budget to estimate how much time my severance will last. I’m talking to friends who’ve given me some very good advice. My friend Bill told me to “think of it as a sabbatical, but make sure you know what you want to accomplish in this time.” I know I’d like to write a book. Starting my own business has always been in the back of my mind. I’ve dreamed of buying a little vintage camper and traveling cross-country. And, of course, hiking the Appalachian Trail is my wildest dream. It’s truly weird to actually think I could do one or more of these things in the next year. All of the excuses I’ve had over the years have dissolved.
On my run this morning, I saw a number of boats in Lake Michigan. A power boat shot out across the lake while a fishing boat bobbed cork-like in the quiet water. It struck me that in two days I will be untethered from my usual shore. I imagined myself pushing away from the dock on Tuesday with nothing but the horizon before me. It may be rough going at first, but soon I’ll be an experienced voyager on the open sea. As I prepare myself for this journey, I will need to embrace being unmoored for a bit from work. It won’t be easy as I feel a delusional sense of security by being employed. For now, I’ll prepare as best I can, toss away unnecessary cargo and embrace the adventure.
Ahoy Matey! Let the adventure begin.