It’s been over a week since I left the comfortable confines of my corporate job and I feel almost suspended equally between all that has changed and all that has remained the same. I don’t receive a salary any more – but I am still working for many of the same people and the money is still coming from the same cookie jar. What is different is me and my attitude – I own me now. And it’s intoxicating the freedom of deciding where I want to work and when, and yes I even managed to sneak away to the driving range one afternoon this week.
One habit I have yet to break it checking my phone for e-mails a few times an hour. It took 2 days for the exchange server to cut ties with my synced e-mail on my phone and I still out of habit grab my phone and look to see what mails I can quickly go through. While standing in the airport on a business trip yesterday I was jealous of all the folks fiddling with mail on their phones. I kept staring at mine thinking mail might appear – but not really wanting it to.
It’s not like I won’t ever sync my phone to my e-mail again – I’m sure I will – only I like to think if I do my behavior will somehow be more mindful surrounding why I need to actually check mail on my phone and when I do it. That said t is a nice diversion when you are waiting around in a long line.
Speaking of phones – I’m trying a new experiment – to use mine more as an actual phone. I’m still coming to terms with years of e-mail overload and out of fear of quickly returning to having an inbox as jammed as the one I just left – I’m going to try and use the phone more to get business done.
It’s already freaking people out a bit – and proving to be very effective – as it’s so surprising to the folks I’m calling – that I’m actually calling them. I like the personal feel it has – somehow I feel more connected to what I am asking people for or what they want of me.
The hope is to bring the human element back into my professional life – which is so odd being that my work is centered around strategic communications. I’m going old school. Who knows maybe I’ll start sending people faxes next month.
The last day was so strange – so anticlimactic. It was odd they way people already began working around me – “Oh, you are leaving – who should I e-mail then?” No other conversation in the middle –I could just hear the subtext in their heads – because I played it in mine when I was on the other side.
“Just move out of the way so I can keep getting my work done – don’t you know I have commitments I need to make good on so I can have a good review and make more money– you are no longer relevant to my work and therefore I no longer need to make nice with you – so please tell me – who should I contact to get my work moving?”
It was fitting my last meeting was with a consultant that was hired to work with me on one of the projects I agreed to keep working on. This person I actually worked with in my first job at the company and he broke up with the company a couple years ago for many of the same reasons.
He gave me some advice I that I knew the moment he said it would stick with me for years to come and help me guide as I grow my consulting business. I’m paraphrasing here – his message was – though it’s tempting finically – don’t get too busy with too much work – you are a valuable consultant to this company because you have time to think about things – to push back and make suggestions to your clients. They pay you to think because they are too busy steeped in fire drills and politicking to have the time to think. That is your value as a consultant – that you have time to think about the projects. I love that.
I feel 20 pounds lighter today – some of that might be the result of my day at the spa yesterday celebrating this evolution mixed with the mental freedom I feel having more of a say in how I spend my time and having created the space to be able to think about the projects I’m hired to do.
The world appears very quite in this moment. My office walls are naked. Clear tacks are randomly dot my cork board holding nothing in place. My lamps have been packed way and the harsh overhead light makes my office feel cold and yellowish. I’m listening to hallway conversations take place for projects I no longer care about and the urgency seems very obtuse to me right now. I’m minutes from walking out on my last day as a corporate employee to evolve my life in the direction I’ve dreamed about for years. I’m sad and excited all in the same moment. A beginning and ending at the same time.
For the first time in 4 years I have zero items in my inbox, my sent folder and my drafts folder. My hard drive has been wiped of anything that might allude that I, me, this individual had that computer and my life tucked away on it for years. The hours I spent banging away on the keyboard, the late nights, Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons – no trace at all on the still shinny HP, that is no doubt already scheduled to go to someone else.
In an instant I deleted thousands of e-mails – and felt tiny pieces of my corporate ego fall into the recycle bin along side. I spent a good amount of time trying to reason with my self why I needed to keep my sent e-mail from 2004 and like a toddler my hand acted impulsively and hit the delete button before my mind had reached a conclusion and I smiled and kept deleting. And now I am uncluttered – my space – my mind – my computer is empty – open and clean to accept what is next.
Good bye corporate life – thank you for all that you have taught me and all that I have learned.