No, I’m not referencing that fun time for women where the temperature is never low enough. Personally, I can’t bring any experience to that type of change yet, but will probably hope someone writes an article about that at some point.
I want to talk about the changes of family and career that most of us make over the course of life. You see, I just went through one of the most impactful changes in my life, Retirement! Yes, after 25 years at an amazing company I decided the timing was right at 48 yo to take a new path. Before I talk about this, let me walk you back about 35 years.
I was raised in a small farming community in Michigan. The best thing about being from the Midwest is that you are born with the ‘Hard Work’ gene. I was babysitting at 10yo($1/hr vs. the crazy $10/hr now) and before I could get my first ‘real’ job had already saved over $500 towards college. When I turned 16, I became one of the luckiest teenagers I knew, getting a receptionist job for an eye doctor in town. I worked there throughout high school and then was off to college. Here is when the motivation for college completion really came to bear. I found out I really SUCK at waitressing jobs. I have total respect for all in the service industry because I had the experience to know it is really hard work and not all people are nice people. From this experience, I knew I would finish college…. and I became a great tipper. 🙂 I wish for all young people to have at least one entry level service position for both the experiences and the empathy building.
I’ll skip ahead now and let you know that I finished college at the awesome Michigan State University, but not without internships at two companies. These were the first corporate America experiences and I knew I was in my element. I loved the energy. Loved the pace and especially loved being challenged by smart people. It was the first time I really felt like I’d found my place.
So, now we are back up to current day. I went to work for an amazing high tech company and learned so much more about the world. I travelled and worked in over 30 countries and even lived in the UK for a couple of years. I took on projects that I just knew I wasn’t ready for, but my management believed I was. This is where I learned about managing people to their highest potential, which would come in handy later during my family raising. I learned that working with people smarter than you is sometimes difficult, but usually very rewarding and makes you better in your job and as a person. I learned that bad days don’t usually last if you come in the next day with the determination to be better. I learned about leadership and that being in front is a very highly exposed position to be in, but so worth it if you are surrounded by great people to lead.
So yes, I truly feel grateful for my career, but back to referencing my opening paragraph, after 25 years, I also knew it was time to move on. You see, I didn’t have my first child until I was 38, a little 18mth old boy from Russia came in to my life, which quickly evolved to a baby girl of my own 9 months later with my now husband, who brought along 3 children of his own. (I think that last sentence was a run on, but that year was kind of like a run on sentence, to tell the truth.) Talk about CHANGE!
So, back to my learnings from my career, managing time, leading a lot of people to their highest potential and dealing with many personalities, come to find out my career was all training for my family. Although, my company had some of the best workplace flexibility policies anywhere, I finally realized trying to give a 100% to both my family and my work wasn’t possible for me. I was proud of the work I did, but my personality is the type that it is not satisfied with medium speed. As the needs of the kids grew, I knew I was lucky enough to be able to make the choice to retire and so, with major support of my husband, I took the leap. It has been 6 months now and not one regret. (Yes, we do occasionally miss the other paycheck, but not as much as we thought.) The pace is different, but I have to say the challenges are only slightly less managing a home with kids from ages 9-18. The difference is I can FOCUS on one thing at a time. I can enjoy bedtime stories, taking kids to the bus and picking them and their friends up from school. I can enjoy a night out with my husband without also stressing about work or an upcoming business trip. I also enjoy my girlfriend time and love that I can pick them up for lunch from ‘the office’ and then I go home. 🙂
I don’t think my business life is totally over, but for now, I am not only comfortable with the CHANGE, but embracing it. I am living life the way I want to and grateful everyday.