Monday, June 18, 2012

The Chills of Change

A few weeks ago I wrote about the new opportunity I was being given to work part-time as part of a Transition to Retirement program offered by my employer. I called it Answered Prayers. This morning I got the official approval. I'll be starting my part-time schedule the first week in July.

First I did the Snoopy dance.

Then I got a knot in my stomach. Already?

Human beings don't like change. Change brings stress. My feeling was that this was going to be as difficult as moving or changing jobs. I've done both multiple times and I know all about that stress. Those two items show up on every Top Ten list of stressful events. Loss of a job shows up on many lists. Retiring is pretty much the same as losing a job. And my gut reaction was the same. This list even shows retirement as a separate item on the list.

For the first time I understood why a coworker at my former job, even though he was 68, wasn't looking forward to our impending layoff.

I've held at least part-time jobs since I was eighteen, except for a three year hiatus when my son was born. And a couple of shorter periods of unemployment; but those were always temporary, not a lifestyle change. It's ingrained in me to have a job, to go to work Monday through Friday (and sometimes Saturday and Sunday, too), to organize my life around my work schedule.

And I realized that I'm making a commitment to a totally different lifestyle. For the first time in decades, I'll have more days away from my job than at my job. I'm going way out on a limb here. I want to use that extra time for writing. I'm transitioning from IT geek to writer. Even though I started this change in January by changing my schedule and focusing on writing fiction instead of computer code, it's different now.

It's a commitment.

It didn't make sense to me to request the part-time schedule unless I was going to use those two days for more than watching movies and reading books. I've set up a schedule of goals for the rest of the year. Writing has been a hobby so far. I've only put myself out there a very few times by submitting to a contest or pitching to an agent. Over the ten years I've been writing, I've sold ONE short story for the whopping sum of $10. I kept holding back until I had the perfect book.

But there is no perfect book. At some point, you have to take the risk, take that novel that's had your heart and soul invested in it and see if it has wings.

So I've made a plan, a business plan, to have a book available for sale by the end of the year. Yeah, I can still not do anything with that, but that's not my nature. I'm big on commitments, even if they're just to myself.

I've gotten through lots of items on that Top Ten list before: a divorce, moving--including out of state twice, many job changes, two cancer scares. I know I can get through this one if I set my mind to it.

But it's still scary.
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