Friday, July 29, 2011

Seven Things I’ve Learned Since Leaving Corporate America

A basic digital clock radio with analog tuningIt’s been more than two years since I made the choice to leave Corporate America after a career of thirty years – and I wouldn’t go back for anything. I’m not saying that corporations aren’t a great place to be or a terrific way to make a living, but they just weren’t the right place for me any longer.

Evidence of this is the changed perspective I have of myself after all this time. I expected to be less stressed, and I am. I expected not to have to set my alarm clock, and I don’t. I expected to be able to work on projects that were important to me, and I am.

Here are some things that I have learned:

1. I’m not really a morning person. If you asked me two years ago I would have said that I was. I would get up early to get into work early so that I could have time to get some real work done – before non-stop meetings started at 8 am (and went until 6 pm or later). Early mornings or evenings were the only times available to do work. I have discovered that I am my most creative in mid-afternoon – a time that was never available to me before.

2. Being the boss isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I became a boss early in my career. I never intended to be the boss, but my own bosses pushed me in that direction. Never being the one who likes to be told what to do, being the boss seemed like a good idea at the time. But being someone else’s boss is very different from being your own boss. I still don’t like other people telling me what to do, but I really don’t miss directing and appraising others.

3. Perspective matters. Ahhh yes, I’m talking about time to think, time to look at things from all angles, time to digest information and mull things over. I like to mull. In Corporate America I was forced to view the world through a very narrow lens, and often to take action before all avenues were explored. I’m enjoying new perspectives.

4. Laundry and grocery shopping don’t have to be done on the weekends. Nor do they have to be done on a weekly basis at all. The grocery store is surprisingly quiet in the mid-morning hours during the week.

5. Sleep matters. I am always amazed by executives who appear to be able to function consistently at a high level on what appears to be very little sleep. I truly wonder what they would be able to accomplish if they got more sleep.

6. Passion is key. This one isn’t really a surprise; I’ve always known this to be the case. What’s different is my perspective on how much passion matters. When you are doing what you love, time flies.

7. I prefer to work alone. I thought I would miss the people I worked with every day, and I do – most of them anyway. But I not only don’t mind working alone, I prefer it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t seek out advice and reactions to my work, but the execution is all me, and that’s just fine.

Which brings me to a big announcement:

Between now and the end of the year I will be busy working on my non-fiction book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, which will be published by The Experiment next spring. You’ve probably guessed that I will be doing most of my writing in the afternoons.

If you want to learn more about food allergies, or baking allergen-free, visit me at Learning to Eat Allergy-Free. Don’t worry, I’ll still be here too, but if I miss a week you’ll know why.


One Womans Eye said...

I love this post! It has been 3 years for me since I left the corporate treadmill and I could not agree with you more on what you have learned.
Congrats on the impending publication of your book!
Hope to see you next week at BlogHer!

Colette said...

Joanne, thanks! Yes, I will see you at BlogHer!

Steve in POK said...

No wonder I don't see you in the S&S anymore! Great post! I also am REALLY enjoying being retired from the corp. but I am not "retired."

BTW, retired is an odd word. Does it mean "tired all over again" or "wore out my old tires and got a new set of new ones" Dunno....

Nelson in PA said...

I always enjoy your posts and this one was maybe even better than most. I also have been in the corporate world for 30+ years and am really looking forward to retirement. Cold turkey retirement is not in the cards especially as the economy remains weak. Can you devote a post sometime to describe some strategies for gradually building a base to allow you to retire on your own terms? I have my ideas but don't want to limit myself to those and would appreciate input from others. Maybe the genesis of a book???

Colette said...

Steve, I think retired is a fairly meaningless word anymore -- second life is more like it.

Nelson, thanks for your comment. I'll think about your suggestion!

Carol Kilgore said...

Congrats on your book and publisher! I have many allergies, but I'm thankful none are food related.

I can totally relate to all these reasons for leaving Corporate America. Been there, done that.