It’s 3:30 Friday afternoon. I have a zit, my nails look like crap, and I haven’t worked out in a week. I haven’t experienced this trio of circumstances in over three years, not since before I retired. It used to be the normal state of affairs this time of year, the time of year accountants call busy season.
I’m sitting at my desk at my supposed-to-be-part-time consulting gig after having worked about 50 hours that week. I glance at my lipstick-smudged teacup and realize my lips must look like crap too. I switched the teakettle on about two hours ago but forgot to go fill my cup, my stomach is growling, and I have to pee--another thing I’ve been putting off for the last hour. I’m answering questions for auditors, revising spreadsheets, and pulling together tax data.
It’s busy season. Everything I thought I hated about my old job. The number one reason I retired. Oddly enough I’m feeling nothing but pure but joy.
Rewind to exactly six years ago, to the busy season that killed my joy. In the midst of that year’s tax season, my controller had to start her maternity leave early, the baby arrived six weeks before her due date. To say I was unprepared for that possibility would be an understatement. Busy season 2005: the absolute worst tax season of my career. I really did lose my joy that year. My two best friends noticed, my husband noticed, practically everyone noticed.
After the workload let up, my joy never returned. That busy season was malignant. I never was able to reverse the damage it did to my job satisfaction. The fondness I felt for that job for the previous 15 years had evaporated. I thought it would return. I waited. But over the next 2 years, the wound never healed. I had to get my joy back, it was infecting the rest of my life.
I have no idea when it actually happened over these last three years of my retirement, but somewhere along the line, I got my joy back. Having control of my time, engaging in activities that are meaningful to me, and spending time with the people I love without the stresses of work life, it all propelled me toward joy.
The pimple, and the scraggly nails, and the guilt from skipping out on my workouts notwithstanding, it took that little event: sitting at a desk at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon after a really busy work week, to show me the contrast from the same season six years earlier. I have my joy back.
This is a post from Retirement: A Full-Time Job