Reclaiming My Life in a Month
Back in September, I wrote a post titled "Crossroads: A Work Dilemma," which dealt with a decision that was coming up for me at work. I gave some information about my situation and solicited feedback and suggestions from my readers and friends. I was given much great advice and many suggestions, for which I am grateful. However, the process associated with the change moved ever so slowly. Things became a little more clear toward the end of last month. Although I had a plan that made all the sense in the world, it was not readily accepted.
About a month ago, I emailed my boss and informed him of my intention of stepping down as head of my department at the end of April. It was a bittersweet moment, as there were many successes during the past five years. But, in truth, I was often haunted by the scourge of authority positions: personnel management. The highlight was probably having to talk with a female employee about her odor. Heady times indeed!
Before I took on the management position five years ago, I was having rocking poker weekends, traveling to Harrah's Horseshoe in Hammond, Indiana almost every other weekend. Poker jaunts to Las Vegas throughout the year were common. I hosted some poker games at my house and had a great international home poker game to go to once or twice a week. I was six months past a mild heart attack and had lost a bunch of weight. Energy was high and life was great.
Things changed after I took the management position. Extra hours and stress weighed upon me, and fatigue became part of my regular life. I eventually cut back on my poker trips and settled into a new existence.
After one year I actively ran for election to complete the final two years of the director term. I got the extra two years, and then, fearing cutbacks and tough decisions that might have to be made, I ran for a final three-year term, wanting to be the person at the helm if things got really bad. After the first year, I began longing for my old life and probably sounded pretty whiny to some of my fellow directors. Unfortunately, my personal life took some huge hits beginning with last May: my wife lost her job, my mother passed away and my mother-in-law also passed. These things really got me thinking.
In the end, I really didn't want to continue as a director unless I got certain things that, in my mind, brought the negative side of the job up to a level I could accept. When I didn't get them, it was clearly a sign that it was time for me to go.
I have one more month left as director, then basically either two or three more years of work until I retire. I haven't set the date yet.
Although I feel conflicted, I am looking forward to only having to be responsible for myself at work for the first time in five years. I have almost forgotten what it is like to not check work email the first thing after I get up in the morning ... to not have to be accessible on a moment's notice ... to not be the one contacting police, students, sometimes parents, trying to keep someone from killing him/herself ... to not have to sit through boring meeting after meeting after meeting ...
I've got a pretty good feeling that things will feel pretty good a months from now.