On 3rd November, after 34 years with Leeds City Council, I made an honourable* retreat from public sector communications and started my first day of the next chapter. I’m not yet sure what to call it; retirement or whatever I do with my time where financial remuneration isn’t the main consideration.
I started this blog many years ago to share my experience of trying to balance personal and professional lives. That balance just shifted big style so I want to continue to document the transition to help understand/accept how it’s going and for others to consider for their exit strategy planning.
I had good plans for how I intended it to happen. ‘Oven ready’ or even ‘World beating’ I think the 2020 terms are. We know what happens when you use rhetoric like that so I never did.
Retirement is a touchy subject to talk about at work or in public so people generally don’t. I guess that’s another reason why I’m doing it here and now. It’s the personal/professional conflict you could call ‘career unplanning’ or the ultimate unplugging and which doesn’t really figure in career development. Maybe there’s a perception it means we become less committed or ambitious.
Nowadays when you start a job there are induction programmes and you can even get yourself ‘onboarded’. There’s probably a laptop sticker. Terms which I think sound so impersonal even though aimed to help.
I guess retirement is a bit like being put in a survival pod and slowly let go into space from the professional mothership to hopefully not crash and burn on re-entry into personal life. A week in, it feels a bit like I got jettisoned and I’m working out how to implement the plans which have also coincided with lockdown 2. In the big scheme of things this isn’t important and I hope everyone comes through this period safe and well.
Fortunately, the days since I left have all been foggy and a bit meh but I’ve been in my element out with the camera in the woods. I’m guessing the number of people pulling back the curtains to see foggy mornings and shouting ‘brilliant’ are few. So there’s that.
Today is the first clear day hence me getting down to pen this post.
It wasn’t how I would choose it to be. I guess we can say that about a lot of things in 2020. There wasn’t time for appropriate farewells. They are and will be happening. I’m not letting that get away. I appreciate and thank those who made it happen.
The exit strategy implementation pretty much went wrong from the start as the plan was to go part-time from 1st April 2020. I’d aimed to see how that worked out and then make a decision on how long that would last until full unplugging 18 months to two years down the line. However, from middle of March it was full on hands to the pumps to deal with Covid-19 so I ended up working more than full time for a couple of months until things settled down a bit.
I’m so proud of how colleagues and Leeds folk rallied to do what was needed and still are. Proper team work and the kind of thing that made me think do I really not want to be involved in this in the future?
I will be posting more about the move from full-time professional to full-time personal and how it is going and what I might have done differently in the planning.
In the meantime I will miss the dedicated, enthusiastic, kind and caring people who have helped me along the way; from colleagues within Leeds City Council, partners across the city and also those in the many communications networks and movements across the UK. Thank you for recent messages, much appreciated. I hope to keep in touch and meet up when we are allowed.
* It all happened very quick due to government employment exit legislation being brought forward. For the few who asked (albeit tongue in cheek), what I did to have to leave so quick – nothing to see here.