I haven’t written for a while.
I’ve been trying to decide what to write about going back to work after five years of retirement.
But now I’ve decided – I love it.
I wasn’t bored in my retirement. I write. I paint. I play with my dogs and cats. I belong to more than one book club, which has not only introduced me to some terrific books, but to some terrific humans.
I hadn’t even been thinking about going back to work. But when I saw the job posting for a part-time bookkeeper for our local library, I suddenly wanted to do it.
Now I have been working for two months.
I like it.
It has taken me a while to figure out just what it is I like.
It’s pretty easy work. But not because it’s mindless work. I’m not bored. It’s interesting enough. It’s only easy because it’s the work I’ve been doing for forty years.
And when I say, ‘interesting enough’ – I think the stress is on ‘enough.’ I love learning. I’m learning Spanish right now. But there is something about knowing a job like the back of your hand that is very satisfying to me right now. To go to work and know you will succeed.
A comfort zone is not something that you always need to break out of. It can be something to embrace. Especially in these uncertain times.
I also like that the job is only part-time.
I spent decades working long hours. Americans do seem to take an inordinate amount of pride in working too hard. I was no exception. My self-image as an executive meant that I needed to ‘brag’ about sixty-hour workweeks. After all, those long days and weekends at the office meant that I was really important, right?
Well, now, a few days a week, I go in after lunch and do my job quietly for four hours and go home to happy-to-see-me dogs and cats. I’m really important to them.
But what I like best: I am not the boss.
I am responsible for only my work. Not for anyone else’s.
For thirty-five years, I have been a boss of some kind or other. At the peak of my career, I had a staff of twenty. I am not ashamed to say that I hated it.
I was not a good boss. Oh, I wasn’t mean or bossy. Just the opposite, I couldn’t tell people anything negative. I would fix employees’ mistakes after hours so I wouldn’t have to tell them they made a mistake. I gave in to most personal requests, no matter how inane. I forgave over and over until my own job was at risk. Employee reviews were my torture.
I liked my job best when I worked by myself. If confidentially required that I not share my projects or delegate any of the work (which was often), those were the days I loved my job. I am an excellent analyst. I am a terrible delegator.
My saving grace was that I was a good teacher. I helped my staff succeed. And many of them did. I just couldn’t face the ones who failed. They were my failure.
My mother was a registered nurse—a very good one. Over the years, she was offered many promotions. She turned them all down. She said, “I don’t like telling people what to do.”
I’m like her. Only where she was able to say no to promotions, I said yes. Over and over. I loved each promotion. I loved the title. I loved the prestige. I loved the money. I did not love being the boss.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with being bossy. Too many women are told they are ‘bossy’ as a criticism. Women can be and should be good bosses. I’m just not good at it. That’s me. Not every woman.
Now, at seventy, I am nobody’s boss.
I was never bossy. And now I get paid not to be.