Even with all the various ins-and-outs of my career, outsourcing, insourcing and all the rest of it, it still felt like a pretty significant moment. After all, I first walked through the doors on 15 September 1997 as a graduate trainee and finally left on 7 June 2019.
That's nearly 22 years.
An awful lot happened in that 22 years that had nothing at all to do with work. Apart from anything else, in that time, I lost something like 40kg in weight and most of my hair and I gained a house, cat and wife (not in that order or in that order of importance). I was 23 years old when I arrived and 45 years old when I left.
Given that I spent nearly half my life to that point working there, it was amazing how quickly I put it all behind me. If they hadn't made me redundant, I'd probably still be there now and still taking their salary.... but almost immediately, it became clear that they had done me a massive favour. Even if my departure hadn't been sweetened by a pretty hefty payment, this would still definitely have been the case.
I wasn't sure when I left what I wanted to do. The money meant that I didn't have to rush into anything, and I spent a good few weeks just decompressing from a job that, by the end, was sucking up a good 11 or 12 hours of my life every weekday and also involved out of hours and weekend cover.
No one made me work those hours, but it's amazing how, when you stop working them, you realise how absurd it all is. Every single day of the working week, I was cycling to work, showering and getting to my desk by 07:15, often not leaving to cycle home until after 18:00.
My last job was probably the one in which I made the biggest contribution to the business and where I got the most satisfaction.... but as soon as I stopped doing it, it all disappeared in my rearview mirror and I didn't give it a backwards glance. I'm sure they didn't miss me either.
I'm now back in work. This wasn't a given, but I ultimately decided I wanted to do something and the right thing came along. I work three days a week over four days, and I now can't imagine working full time. In an ideal world, I'd be doing more volunteering, but the pandemic has put almost all of that on hold. When a more normal life returns, I'll have the space to resume that stuff. It's all good.
I'm healthier and happier. Even during a lockdown, I feel like my life is much more balanced than it was before.
So what have I learned in the last year since that redundancy? Something that I should have known all along: that life is short and time is precious. Do things that make you happy. No matter how important you think that job is, I bet there are thousands of better things you could be doing with your time that create more good in the world.
Go and do them.
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