AND, Just Like That; Plans Interrupted

Have you ever dreamed about the day you could retire? How do you really plan your retirement? Do you have an agenda? Do you plan to fish, golf, or some other activity? I dreamt of things I’d do when I didn’t have to work. I even planned out my first day: I wanted mine to be just right. I wanted to wake up early, just so I could NOT be at staff meeting, to watch the sunrise, and to savor the first cup of coffee. It seemed so peaceful in my dreams… so far away. The thought of waking up without a schedule seemed perfect… until one day, there I am; retired. Those years flew by really quick, but I still had some years in my plan. How can I be retired now? What am I going to do?

Over the years, I got used to the routine of work, travel, and busy-ness. I got caught up in what I was doing… I thought it made me who I am. I didn’t realize that I had sacrificed with each choice I made. I see now how much time that could’ve been shared is gone. I’d come through the door at home, exhausted from doing work, I missed the hugs and laughter that my little girls wanted to share. I missed some big parts of life because of my understanding to do everything I could. I had become so comfortable doing things, I found it uncomfortable to stop or to rest. It all came to an end as my office presented the choice of restructuring or separating.

Over the last few months, my blogs have highlighted the value of an individual; our worth comes from who we are, not what we do. These are great insights… until I actually had to trust it myself. I mean speaking theoretical is one thing, and I think I really believed what I was saying. But now, now I am living it out. One day I was doing the best I could, moving, shaking, and getting things done, and the next day, I was not doing anything.

In a culture that is continuously doing something, here I am NOT doing anything. I have no huge accomplishments, no big awards, no super big titles. And yet, I am happy. I feel like I have contributed well to society. My accomplishments are not so much things, but they are people.

As I pondered the last three decades of my life, I am reminded of several I have helped become who they are. I have forgotten some names and faces, and they may have forgotten mine as well. But I am looking back with a sense of satisfaction. The lessons I’ve learned from being a distracted dad, multi-tasking husband, and task-oriented friend have made me into to who I am today. I realize the sitting with people to hear their story is more important than finishing a task or two.

As I face this transition from working to retiring, I am no longer associating who I am with what I do. I can say I am anticipating making it up as I go; whether that is participating with a team going off to help recover storm damage, traveling to meet a friend for coffee, or sitting on the sideline reading a good book. I want to sink into lives of people, regardless if I am in a role or not.

C.S. Lewis offers “…Delight is incomplete til it is expressed”. Part of bringing closure to my work life is to express appreciation for the coworkers I’ve experienced throughout the years. I’ve had some great adventures and some hard lessons; I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I may not know what is around the next corner, but I know I am not alone, I bring value aside what I do, and I love to hear stories of people who are learning.

In a final thought, I’d like to ask you: where do you find your value? Who is speaking into your life? Do you have a friend that you can just sit with, and talk about dreams, life, or even frustrations?

Blessing to you as you travel your journey with ebbs and flows, ups and downs, plans and changes.

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