I am smiling a lot, kind of like a bookworm going back to school. Preparing to start a new job after two years of semi-retirement is such a pleasure.
I was thinking about how different this feels than going back to work after a vacation. I remember quite well the need for time off, and how a week or two would go by far too fast. I remember too how quickly the holiday feel wore off, once back in the office.
But I don’t want to blather on, “Oh aren’t I so lucky,” unless I can share. So I was thinking, how, back when I worked with no more than a two-week break over twelve years, how could I have given myself more of the feeling I have now?
I could perhaps have addressed all that stuff that haunted my to-do list. In the past two years I have:
- Put a will in place.
- Cleaned out all closets, cupboards and shelves except those belonging to my children.
- Sorted out and filed all my financial and legal papers.
- Installed sprinklers. Replanted much overgrown or dying vegetation all over the yard.
- Repaired the two areas of dry rot around a window and a French door.
- Upped my umbrella liability insurance to reasonable levels.
- Finalized all divorce proceedings.
- Fallen in love.
- Cut back my two glasses of wine a night to one. At least more often than not it’s only one. My sleep has improved enough to matter.
- Addressed the question of whether I want to be a writer via 721 blog posts and a rough book proposal. Your 32,000 comments have encouraged me more than I can say. [ed. note Meg’s comment below made me check. In fact there have been 27,000 approved comments, so 5,000 were spam. Now let’s say 1/6 of the comments were mine, that means ~22,500 were yours. Still a lot. Really a lot:).]
- Located my earthquake kits, and put them in the garage along with large quantities of batteries, toilet paper, and paper towels.
- Installed a safe.
These are things that settle one’s life and inner sentiments in quite profound ways. I was always too tired when I came home to do them before. In part because much of my capacity was spent on maintaining the family, in part because I took jobs I didn’t quite know how to do, and grew my skills in situ. That’s a stressful and consuming way to proceed, albeit one that moves you up the ladder quickly.
Once my best friend and I cleaned my whole side yard in one day. I could have enlisted help to do the other tasks. To-do list buddies, if you will.
What else could I have done, back when, to enjoy going back to work more? Well, I could have done better choosing the jobs to begin with. It’s astonishing that as a reasonably intelligent person I didn’t figure that out sooner. For example,
- I will be managing a group in my favorite function – product management. I think we all have a favorite entry-level job. Mine was product manager. Highly interfaced throughout the company, heavy communication requirements, fast-changing, creative, but requiring disciplined analysis. Doesn’t get much better, for me. What was your first job love? Have you strayed?
- The team is smaller than some I’ve managed. Hands-on again, time to coach and mentor. I do love to give advice and grow people. Makes me think that one should always consider the ways in which you most like to relate to others, when choosing a job. As a coach? As a commander? As a peer? As a helper?
- The industry. I’m familiar, enough, to be able to learn the ropes quickly. But I also love learning the structure of new industries, the little quirks only understood through details. I remember a training in which they told us maximum learning happens when you’re uncomfortable, and at edge of what you know. But one can fall off edges. Finding the right balance of familiar and new is a joy. I suspect I will contribute more, and learn even so.
- The culture. Oh the culture. You feel it immediately. I took one job I knew would be painful, after an interview process where I was serially interrogated by several executives, then left waiting alone for 45 minutes while they argued about something outside the board room door. I suspect that in a culture suited to our native makeup we are more easily productive.
At the highest level, what these two years really did was reacquaint me with time and self. Give me back the length of a day and take away just enough urgency and hurry that I could see what how tasks left undone affected my particular nature. I think I also understand that I may have taken jobs in the past as awards, for their shine. These days I’d rather be useful than shiny. Reverting finally to type, then, as a Sturdy Gal. With all due foundation.
And now I’m off to the Stanford Shopping Center to buy new socks. Warm feet, I’ve found, are happy feet. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.