“What are you going to do when you finish?” I have no idea how many times I have been asked that question in recent months, but it’s a lot. I have no idea how others have ultimately come to the decision to retire from full-time employment – but, my decision is of my own making. The fact that I have never considered it being the wrong decision over the last nine months or so would seem to indicate that it was the right one – time, of course will tell.
There is no hiding the fact that the “emotional” impact of that decision has hit me a couple of times over the last few weeks. Since September 1969 I have spent my working day in the company of others. My two stints at Bristol Water, totalling some thirty-five years intersected with ten years in Business – as a Contractor. In making my decision to retire I didn’t for once consider the question of “what will do afterwards”. My decision was sole based on my ability, as an individual, to perform at the level that I needed to do in the role that I was in. At nearing sixty-four years of age (which I was at that time), there was no doubt that the pressure, the stress and the responsibility that went with the role had the potential to impact my health, if it hadn’t already done so. Of course, we would have to manage on less money – but what is the good of money if you didn’t have your health. My Dad worked until he was seventy – he was in perfect health. Like others he probably thought that he was indestructible, and if he didn’t provide the service to the customers he had serviced as a Building Contractor for over thirty years then who would ? He died some six months after his seventieth birthday – leaving my mother finically comfortable, but without the heath to enjoy it.
Nobody should ever think they are irreplaceable in any workforce – history tells us that “gaps are soon filled”, colleagues move on – it’s all a question of them “having to”. When colleagues say “it won’t be the same without you”, many of them do mean it. And of course, it won’t be the same – for you. I have often argued that a part of manager’s role was to ensure that nobody was irreplaceable, that there were no human single points of failure – and that if you weren’t there then everything would go on as normal. And if that becomes a reality then you can leave with a smile – job done.