Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Retirement - Pam Kirk

Last spring my company asked for volunteers willing to take a severance package and we would be notified in 30 days.  I had actually planned to work another 18 months, but immediately signed the paper.  Of course, I then decided I needed to talk to my CPA and financial planner to make sure I really could financially do this.  Finding that it was a resounding “Yes”, I was ready to go.  I packed up personal things from my cubicle, cleaned out files, and began to prepare a “process” booklet on how to handle my responsibilities.   Much to my great disappointment, I was not offered one of the few packages handed out.   My job and position was not one of those that could be eliminated.    After a few weeks, and realizing my heart really wasn’t in my job anymore - the goal and focus surely had shifted - I committed to officially retire the end of the year. I had days when I wanted to make it sooner, but decided to stay long enough to get some upgrades done on my house while I was still had a nice income.  However, I began counting down the months, then weeks, until I got down to 60 days, then the count was remaining days to work.  My poor work partner had to endure having people ask me how many more weeks or days I had left, and with glee in my voice and a smile on my face I would give them the answer!  I was READY!  My son was concerned about what I would do to occupy my time after I got my gardens in order.  I told him I had more rugs to hook than I would be able to manage.  Not to mention the other Green Mountain Hooked Rug Board Members kept finding more Green Mountain activities for me to take on.  Boredom was not going to be in my vocabulary.   As the days crept or zoomed closer, I couldn’t wait for THE DAY (12/5) to get here.  Then for me a strange thing happened about 8 days before Dec 5th.  I found I had moments of deep sorrow roller coaster riding between moments of utter delight at the thought of being on permanent paid holiday.  As I ponder on this phenomenon, I realized I had worked in the corporate world for almost 30 years solely focused on getting ahead, earning more money and setting myself up so I could eventually retire.  But the reality of retiring was always a several years away in my mind.  When I turned 61, I said I would retire in 5 years.  At 64, I found I was still saying I would retire in 5 years.  At 67, I decided I couldn’t keep telling myself it was 5 years away.  I needed to make a commitment.  I set the date for being 70 and a half - October 2015 or maybe I would push it out to 71 in April of 2016.  My “spontaneous" decision to leave a year earlier still was not real until the last week I worked.  I cleared out the very last things from my cubicle.  I tried to finish up projects or get them to places where my work partner could pick them up and keep up with them until my replacement was hired sometime after the first of the year.  Emotionally I struggled.  I had no goal anymore; I didn’t have a focus; nothing to keep me going.  What was happening to me?  I am sure any of you who have retired have gone through all these emotions and thoughts.  It was a very wise co-worker who told me as I headed out of the office for the last time, “Enjoy your time off.  This is what you worked all those years for.”  The light bulb went on inside my head - “Yes.  Exactly - the 30 year goal has been reached.”  Now I can play with patterns and wool and dyes whenever I want and for as long as I want!

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