I'm counting down my sabbatical days including all weekends so even though this is technically my first real day off, it's marked as Day 3. So. My first Monday off. Here's how I feel today: I don't want to go back there. Ever.
I know there are lots of fantastic reasons to go back. I have a good reputation and I make a lot of money and it's a place that constantly challenges me. And I love lots of the people there. But it's a hard place to be, too. And what was it that AW said the other day? Just because you can do a thousand push-ups doesn't mean you have to do them. Sometimes it's enough to know you can. And after 14 years I know I can do it; I'm not sure I want to any more. I think working there has made me impatient. And it's made me a little hard. And with the exception of this year abroad (and more importantly AWAY from the mother ship) it has stolen nearly all of my personal interests and creativity.
The past few weeks have been such a relief. Here are some of the things I've been thinking about:
- The amount of responsibility I have felt for the things I manage isn't rational. Don't get me wrong, I'm really proud of everything I've achieved, and do feel like the work I've done over the years has had a positive impact on customers, on the people who have worked for me, and for me. But the act of handing things over, wrapping them up, and disengaging from the work has given me perspective on what exactly my contribution has been. And it's not enough to make up for all those lost days/weeks/months/years, the opportunity cost of not keeping up with the writing I used to love, the time away from my love, my family, my friends. If I'm spending that much of my energy and life on the work, I want it to be mine.
- Being at that place is like being in a cult. You are taught to believe that you're a little bit smarter than everyone outside the company (but not nearly as smart as the people in the company). That you can achieve things no one else can (if you just give a little bit more of yourself).
-And mostly I keep coming back to this quote I read a few months ago:
“Working the way I have all my life is like a pie-eating contest. I worked in high school to get into a great college. Then I worked in college to get into a great law school. Then I worked at law school to get a job at a top-flight law firm. Then I worked at the law firm to make partner. I’ve finally figured out that it is all just a big pie-eating contest. You win, and the prize is always … MORE PIE. Who wants that?” from SPRINGBOARD Launching Your Personal Search for Success