Can I get a woo hoo? I’m engaged to be retired! As many of you know, Mr. Groovy and I plan to retire in October. I had no intention of giving notice until we were closer to the finish line, but last week I spilled the beans—and I feel so relieved!
I was toying with the idea of giving the usual two to three weeks’ notice—but honestly, I don’t think it matters one bit. Because regardless of how much notice anyone in my department has given, absolutely nothing changed until after he or she was out the door. The most recent person to resign gave three weeks’ notice and a replacement wasn’t even hired until a month after she left.
But this isn’t about making it easier for my boss or the coworkers I will leave behind—it’s about making it easier for me. You see, in May, my boss decided to completely restructure my department. She had her reasons, but this couldn’t have come at a worse time. We were heading into our busiest season and the transition was not smooth, to say the least. Very little guidance was offered—no checklists, no documentation, and no training. And the real kicker was that my boss was traveling for meetings and was only available sporadically.
Throughout the month of May, I ended each day with 150+ unread emails in my inbox. Every morning scores of fresh emails would arrive. Prioritizing became a joke. Urgent deadlines for multiple projects were all approaching at once. I told my boss several times that I was overwhelmed and that something critical was going to fall through the cracks. But my pleas were answered with nothing more than “I have faith in you” platitudes.
Finally, I asked my boss point blank to reassign some of my responsibilities and she refused. She did offer me the assistance of a newbie employee, though. Which was great—sort of. The newbie employee was a very bright, young lady, but we’re a dysfunctional nonprofit and there’s a huge learning curve involved in understanding how things work (or, more to the point, don’t work). I found myself wasting precious hours answering her questions. Not the kind of “help” I was looking for.
It’s a funny thing how employees at my job are not treated equally. Those who have a strong work ethic are slammed with extra duties. Those with a lousy work ethic are relieved of duties. This has been a running theme throughout the 11 years I’ve been with my organization. The good ones get punished; the bad ones get rewarded. Sigh!
So there I was, stressed to the point that Mr G would find me at my computer with my head in my hands. He’d ask me what was wrong and I’d say, “I don’t know what to do first”. I’d go to bed thinking about agreements that hadn’t been signed, worrying about attendees showing up at an event and the doors being padlocked (my organization sponsors conferences). Finally, I smacked myself in the head and asked, “Why the F has this become my problem? I’m freakin’ leaving in October, and I am NOT spending my remaining days with my stomach in a knot!”
That’s it! I finally told my boss, “There’s something else I need to discuss with you. But if you’re busy it can wait”. I threw in the last part because her compadres were hounding her to go to lunch. I figured the suspense would get the better of her and I was right. “You can tell me now,” she said sweetly. “My husband and I are thinking about retiring before the end of the year,” I told her. Her reaction was surprising. “I’m happy for you,” she said. “I’m always glad to hear when people are able to do that. Thank you for giving me a heads up. I appreciate it”. I’m not quite sure she was sincere but I’m taking it at face value. Since I’m the one leaving, I don’t really care. Not my problem.
I’m not exactly in the position I was in prior to May, where I assumed I could coast through work until my last day. That would have been ideal. But I’m very happy I spoke up about my dissatisfaction and let the cat out of the bag about retirement. I’ve yet to provide the exact date for my grand finale but I thought I’d do that in stages. I have an annual review in August where I plan to establish my exit date in October.
Since that last heart-to-heart with my boss my work load has not substantially changed and my job is still very stressful. But, I unequivocally communicated that my job demands are unreasonable and, “Oh, by the way—I’m leaving soon”. Now it’s absolutely clear that I’m not the one who’s going to clean up any messes. Do I feel responsible for managing the chaos anymore? No, I absolutely do not. Poof! The anxiety has lifted.