Retirement or ” Refirement ” ?

Yesterday was a career defining day for me as I released an ETBI ( press release announcing my successor as General Secretary a role which I have had for the past 21 years.
For 45 years I have been a salaried employee and for 38 of those years I have worked in a senior management position when I had a title after my name. From May 1st next there will be no such title and it occurs to me that for almost four decades much of my identity has been associated with my work . In other words what I am and who I am have been intertwined ! I had not realised this until recently when I was faced with the consequences of my voluntary retirement as General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland ( ETBI).
For 21 years I had put my heart and soul into the development of this organisation and the huge reform agenda that been a feature of the ETB sector, a hugely challenging career which will end on April 30.
Now I am faced with new challenges and perhaps an even bigger personal challenge associated with redefining my own identity. I have done this on three previous occasions in my life and careers when I was a primary school principal and then CEO of a radio station and then as general secretary of ETBI.
I like to think that I am not moving to retirement but to ” refirement” when I fire up my engines and reinvent myself with new goals and targets one of which is to become a regular blogger !
My old work identity will now be set aside as will that sense of service to a larger cause. For me there will be a sudden change of identity from May 1st 2018. My current workplace will no longer be my main social environment and there will certainly be a loss of work community. Instead of bemoaning that loss I will reinvent myself and fulfil other ambitions which have long been set aside due to work pressures. And I will have a chance to be independent and select what I want to do rather than having to fulfil a range of roles associated with my current career.
One big advantage therefore will be the escape from routine. If there is a loss of status then it is more than balanced with the recovery of my independent self.
Looking forward I am currently identifying new roles to refine my true self. As I become detached from my job I am cultivating other roles and I will redefine my identity on my own terms. I must finally lead myself away from my current role and tackle new fulfilling and challenging roles . This is what I mean by re-firing my engine so as to stay focused and driven on a new career path where freedom to choose will be a defining feature .
Yes , I face the future with a sense of confident expectation but also with a fear of the unknown. Many have transitioned successfully and stayed vibrantly engaged in this phase of life. I am determined to work towards a new career and a new work identity . I have done this before so I have do that again.

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