Semi-retirement done. Reboot complete.

At the beginning of October last year I wrong a blog post called ‘Retirement Diary – Week One‘. As you can probably infer from the title alone my intention was for it to be the first in a series. I was planning to document what taking a step back from work looked and felt like for me. I hoped it would both allow me to return and review the experience at a later date, but also that there might be some insights I could share which would be helpful for others.

It quickly became clear however that I wasn’t actually done with work, or the impact working too much in 2022 and 2023 had on me.

I spent a large part of each week through to Christmas either finishing the offboarding that clients were finding hard to prioritise earlier, or renegotiating work relationships.

Where I’d ended a client relationship I found I was still being contacted by the humans I had worked with in their teams. My role supporting and mentoring was not a gap all organisations planned to fill following my departure.

The team members needed reassurance, continuity and occassional advice for maintain their flow and the flow of their team. I’m a strong believer that a line manager cannot be an independant objective mentor. There is an itch to scratch there. If you’ve had a mentor you’re going to feel challenged if that trusted relationship is removed.

With all the long-tail endings to those relationships I continued to search for time to decompress, be mindful and empty my head. It was a lot harder than I had imagined.

So the weekly blog posts would not have been much more than me confirming I was still responsible for the humans I had been supporting before October, and I was struggling to write anything—nevermind jazz up the same story week after week. Sorry about that.

The end to this came just after Christmas. Things began to go quiet. I began to find time to be bored. Finding time to makes notes, to listen to podcasts, to read books. Signs of why I originally loved the work I had come to resent began to appear.

People, Tech and Sticky problems

Eventually I started to initiate conversations with peers who’s opinions and experience I trust. Speaking to people about challenges that we both had experience with. Unpicking the finer points of defining and delivering client projects. It all began to remind me of how much I had to offer in those discussions and to those teams.

And that’s when I started to get excited again. Planning where I am best to spend my time. Where to offer my insights and support. What is most valuable offering for me to focus on.

I’ve spent hours over the last few weeks thinking, making notes, reading and planning content. Focusing my time on clarifying who I am and what I want to be known for now.

So my semi-retirement wasn’t three months it was five. I was clearly burnt out and couldn’t see the joy in work. I’d become numb to the value I was adding to teams working on client relationships and being agile. I had to get back to basics, empty my head and have interesting discussions to reboot myself. It’s nice to be through that journey.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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