Sunday, April 22, 2018
How I Tricked Myself into Retiring
Dear readers, if you have been following posts on my blog, you will know that I am a recent but happy retiree. The person who is most surprised about this is me.
You see, during my career, I was the classic workaholic. I used to joke about it. "I am so busy. I have so much to do. Work, work, work -- that defines my life. I must be a bit of a workaholic."
I used to come home weeping with exhaustion after 12 and 14 hour days, when I had not had time to step away from the computer or eat a meal. We routinely ate dinner at 8:00 or 9:00 at night, because I seldom came home before 7:00 or 8:00 pm. Our family and friends lived far away, and although I made quick trips to visit as often as I could and kept in touch by phone, it was not enough. I was constantly frustrated that I did not have enough time for exercise or creative endeavours. The stress and the pace began to affect my health.
But, for all of that, I really didn't think that there was all that much wrong with my life. Or maybe it was more that I couldn't imagine that there was any other way to be. The big educational institutions where I had pursued my career had socialized me into excessive work as a lifestyle. I looked around and saw all of my peers working the same crazy long hours that I was. As we ran past each other in the hallways, our typical conversations went something like this:
"How are you?"
"Busy. Just unbelievably busy. How about you?"
"Me too. Busy, busy, busy. I'm dealing with the X crisis and the Y crisis, and I thought we had a solution for the Z crisis, but there's a new wrinkle, and it has to be dealt with today."
"Well. I have to go. I have three back-to-back meetings, and I'm double booked over lunch hour."
"Yeah, I'm racing to a meeting too, and I'll be here all weekend for the W event."
As much as I tried to seek a better balance between my work life and personal life, the work demands were urgent and unrelenting.
Besides, I loved my career. I had spent decades studying and working in different roles within the university system. I was deeply invested in being a professor, researcher, and administrator. I didn't know who I was apart from my work identity. I was afraid of giving it all up, only to discover that my career self was all that I was.
When I began to realize that it was time to retire, I struggled with the decision. I remember that I started to write a blog post around that time called: "Throwing My Life Away." I never published it because it was so bleak and despairing.
Everybody's different, but for me, one part of the solution involved retiring in stages. The other part involved making a cognitive shift. Essentially, I tricked myself into retiring. To find out about my self-trickery, continue reading here.
I am thrilled to have been invited to guest host on Donna's blog, Retirement Reflections, once again. Please visit me there and read my post.