To paraphrase a title from that doyenne of crime writing, Agatha Christie – A Retirement is Announced. Yes, the woman who always said she couldn’t imagine not being at work, who wanted to work ’til she dropped, is retiring from her current job. Me.
So what changed my mind? Time, thinking, reality, wisdom, self-awareness, life. All good things of which to take proper notice. Interestingly, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make and it was a surprisingly quick one. I began to think about what I wasn’t able to do – like clean the house properly, or cook from scratch, or see my family, or see my husband more than three nights a week. Like going away for a few days spontaneously, like taking a holiday without planning it a year in advance to synchronise diaries, like starting a project at home and having it finished in a week instead of it taking 6 months (or not getting finished at all). Like sitting in the garden for hours. Like reading for a whole day. Like staying in bed ’til 10am. Like going to bed later than 10pm. Small things you might think, but small things that are about having control over my time, over my life. And suddenly, that control became very, very important.
So, I did the sums, examined my lifestyle, and boom! There were better times to be had. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved my jobs (well, most of them), I’ve loved the whole of my career and I’m proud of my achievements and the contribution I have made to organisations and to people. Now, it’s time to contribute to me. To do what I want, when I want and with whom I want. To spend my time – precious time when you enter your seventh decade – doing things which stretch me, challenge me, excite me, and above all, things that make me happy.
When I talk about my career, or what I have learned over the years, I talk about knowing when to move on. There’s a slide I use, it say’s ‘If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, find a new one’ and there’s another slide, a quote from the late, great Muhammad Ali, ‘A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life’.
Well, not one moment of my life has been wasted so far. And as sure as eggs I am not going to start to waste it now. My career isn’t over, I shall continue to contribute and comment, write and rant, encourage and include. I won’t be stopping this blog, for instance – I think it’s one of the ways I reach out, and can continue to make a wider contribution – and I haven’t reached my seventh decade without learning a few things that are worth passing on! But I’m going to be in a different story – and it feels good.