Today was my last day in the office. It may even be the last day in any office. Life is unpredictable and things change, but if things go the way I hope, then the stable long-term 9-6 desk job part of my career is now over.
I had an ironic wake-up this morning when I, hung over and very confused, slowly realised that I was in the office. How did I get here? Oh yes, of course. The leaving drinks.
I had my leaving drinks at a funky little roof garden the day before. It was good to get everyone together for one more social time-out from the office and talk about old war stories. At midnight, the last person went home, and I walked back to the office to pick up my bike. I sensibly figured that I was too drunk to get home safe, so I slept in the office until a dawn chorus of birds woke me up. I probably broke some rule doing this, but what are they going to do? Fire me?
I spent most of my last day saying good-bye to people. I also worked on my ‘good-bye and thanks for the fish’ e-mail, which featured my first ever limerick.
At UBS, there once was a lad,
who joined the firm as a grad.
After five years of work,
he acquired a quirk
and left to become a nomad.
During the last two days, many of my colleagues have asked why I decided to leave my career. First of all, I have not left my career; I have changed the direction of it. But the question made me think. I went to university and then worked five years at a bank without ever having to justify my decision to do so. No one ever asked me why I thought that working a fixed eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, was the best thing for me. I didn’t even question it myself.
I don’t want to make it sound like these five years have not been good. In fact, I leave the office carrying bags bursting with good memories and friends made. I worked my way from being an intern to managing my own development team. Along the way, I filled my toolbox with not just technical skills but social ones too, not to mention a good dose of self-confidence. As a first job, it couldn’t have been much better.
Nevertheless, it is time to leave. I imagine my career at the bank as a mountain, one that I’ve spent five years climbing. I could stay and enjoy the view. I could climb a little further and maybe get a slightly improved view. But staying here, I will never know what flowers grow on other far-away mountains. The grass probably won’t be much greener there, but the view will be different, and that is all I need. I am aware that rolling stones never make it to the top, but that is OK. At least they don’t get mossy.