Finishing StrongWith only seven working days left, I’m really trying to finish strong before I retire.  When I was in high school and running in track meets, we had a saying at the end of the race as we rooted for our teammates.  It was “Go Hard” and “Finish Strong!”

I’ve been trying to do just that these last few weeks of my working life.  I’ve watched so many runners lose in the last second of a race because they let up just before the finish line.  You never know what is going to happen. Running as hard as you can all the way through the tape, no matter what is happening in front or behind you, helps to win the race.

Many of my predecessors, especially when they knew they were getting fired, literally checked out for the last weeks or even months before they departed.  A few co-workers that actually made it to retirement very often took an easy path the last few years of their employment, which really bugged me.  The image of putting their feet up on a desk, taking a nap, or yelling, “I don’t care!” when someone asked them a simple question stirs up some bad memories for me.

While finishing a work career isn’t exactly like a foot race, I’ve really tried to focus on finishing the tasks I have on my to-do list before I leave.  It is almost as if time is speeding up. I go back and forth asking myself, “Is this important?” “Do I really need to get this finished or do I want to hand this off to someone else?” “Am I focused on the right things at this moment, right now?”

There have been a few things that I put off, probably for emotional reasons.  Preparing for what will be my last All-Staff meeting is one.  As I’ve said goodbye during a number of “last” meetings I’ve found myself getting emotional.  At one, I became very philosophical and encouraged my fellow planning directors to be thoughtful about including underrepresented residents in the planning process for 2050. I’m not sure where that all came from because as I spoke I wasn’t prepared for the depth of emotion I felt.

One of my managers suggested that for our last staff meeting that I make it fun and humorous and share stories from the past.  Our workplace was truly different in the 1970s and 1980s and because many of our new employees weren’t born until the late 90’s he thought it might be a good way to wrap up our final Zoom meeting with some laughter.

Usually, our staff meetings, pre-pandemic, were in-person events, with a theme, food, a robust agenda, and some games.  For now, gone are the days of 130 people in the same room with the energy, noise, and laughter.  A virtual meeting just isn’t the same.  Because of this, my administrative assistant and I would plan for several weeks in advance for these quarterly events.

For this final staff meeting, I only started thinking about it three days before. Yesterday, I apologized to my assistant for making her scramble to help get a presentation together.  She laughed and said, “no problem, you remind me of the Seniors in high school right before graduation when they get “senioritis”.  Then she said, “Oh, that’ right, you are a senior! Maybe I shouldn’t have said that!” I said, “No, that about describes it.”  It is almost the end and my mind is going to different places. But for the next seven days, I’m going to try and “Finish Strong.”

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