My Growing Disconnection from the Corporate Ladder

With retirement just a few months away, what has been interesting to me has been taking a moment to step back and to observe how my mindset has changed, without deliberately doing so.

Things that used to occupy a significant amount of thought, energy and a constant state of preparedness have slowly faded into the background.

I think it started around the time I made the decision that after five times accepting short assignments filling in for a manager, that I decided management really wasn’t for me and that climbing the corporate ladder was off the table.

After so many years of being groomed for management, and having so many people say that they believed in me, it was a difficult decision as I didn’t want to let my mentors down.

But the reality was that while I was indeed capable of managing a team, I felt more fulfilled when I was rolling my sleeves up and delving into the technical aspects of the work, more so than when I was leading others through the work.

It also made me appreciate that much more the job I really enjoyed the most over the span of my career to the point of jokingly asking my boss for a “no trade” clause, as I had made up my mind that this was what I wanted to do until it was time to say farewell.

Those two decisions alone brought me so much relief in not having to actively look at job postings anymore, or going through the lengthy processes of applying, testing and interviewing, which always seemed to feel like “homework” when there were other things to which I would prefer to devote time and energy.

By not being on the lookout for the next work opportunity, so went the weeks of over analysis and anxiety that churned through, asking myself “am I good enough?”, “am I ready?”, “is this the right time in my life?” and having to prop myself up emotionally to expect the challenges that come with new positions.

How many sleepless nights did I spend worrying about “the next step”?… too many! I am glad that those are behind me.

With the finish line in sight, it also meant not having to work so hard on keeping my résumé up-to-date, or to keep accumulating experience to make me a better-rounded candidate.

With management assignments off the table, so went management training. Any training I wanted to take could be geared more toward enhancing my technical skills and my subject matter expert skills, which deep down I enjoyed more anyway.

With retirement approaching, I also found myself slowly disconnecting from long term plans. While I still had to be aware of them and had to make sure that my work aligned to it, naturally, I could feel my personal connection to those plans fade ever so gradually, with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be there to see some of the longer term plans come to fruition.

And with so little time remaining, I stopped worrying about work I might not complete before I go. Having been brought up with a “finish what you started” and “try not to leave loose ends” work ethic, I did stress about this.

But with so many external factors that can affect work flows, it is inevitable that I may leave behind a few loose ends. I decided that at this point, it isn’t about what I want to accomplish, it’s how the management team wants to leverage my skills with the time remaining, and I am completely OK with letting them make that call.

Through it all, I have enjoyed the fact that letting go of worrying about the trajectory of my career has made me far more engaged and committed to the present, focusing on delivering the best work I can, to really enjoy the last few months and to try to leave on a high note.

The question of whether I wanted to continue in this line of business after retirement has come up, and for that I say “never say never”.

But I just want to take some time to enjoy retirement first, to take some time off to completely relax and enjoy my own projects and leisure activities before thinking about returning.

At this stage, I feel like I can certainly indulge myself in some time to relax and not have to devote energy to build up a career that is winding down.

My career and my job have been a source of great joy on so many counts for so many years, but I don’t think it would be selfish of me to enjoy the growing disconnection from the corporate ladder… until my ambitions with the writing projects I wish to pursue in retirement decide to take over.

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Have a great day,

1 Comment

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One response to “My Growing Disconnection from the Corporate Ladder

  1. Dave

    While there were slightly different circumstances involved, it does remind me of where I was at 7 years ago. It took some adjusting, but rarely now, is has there been any looking back.

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