Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life Decisions, Stress, and Alcohol

(Originally written Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 11:05 p.m.)

Wow, how silly do I feel? I only noticed tonight how I titled my first two notes here. I didn’t know how Facebook would date them, so I thought I would just title them with the current date. However, in my strange mind I must have been thinking ahead to my retirement years because I wrote February instead of July! Now that I see Facebook dated my notes correctly, I’ve re-titled the notes to something a little more descriptive.

So here’s my third effort: Life decisions, stress, and alcohol. I’m in the middle of what has become my last “budget cycle” at work, traditionally the most stressful time of the year for me. It is a time when my staff and I hunker down and hammer out the budget for every post office in the Oklahoma District for the next fiscal year commencing October 1, consisting of work hours, volume, productivity, overtime, sick leave, salaries & benefits, non-personnel, other personnel, revenue, etc. Most people don’t know the intricacies or the level of detail involved, and the amount of effort put forth in the number crunching can be exhausting.

The stress in years past has been oppressive to a near breaking point at times. My job as the manager involves being the liaison not only between our Area office in Dallas and the District, but between the District staff and my staff. I am responsible for coordinating between the functional managers, all of whom are higher level managers than me, and most of whom have egos that need tending. Coordinating this activity while facing technical deadlines would cause unbelievable pressure for me.

This year is strangely different. A few short months after entering Alcoholics Anonymous I began to let go of everything that was causing me stress. I’ve already written about the fear of economic insecurity leaving me. I listened to what the others were saying in the meetings and read the big book, and gradually realized I was not in control of most things in my life that caused stress. Once I realized I couldn’t control the stressors, I learned I could let go of them. Letting go was the key. Leave it behind.

I thought as the budget cycle approached I would have difficulty maintaining my serenity, and even worried I would begin to crave alcohol again as a way of coping with the stress of the job. So far it hasn’t happened! We’re more than half way through the budget process now, with a little more than two weeks to go.

Add to the job stress a major life decision – retirement! Having made the decision to retire at roughly the same time as the budget cycle started, you’d think I might have bitten off more than I could chew. Oddly enough, that was the least stressful decision I’ve ever made. A thorough review of my financial standing and an inventory of my ambitions and desires for career movement lead me to a clear decision. It is time to leave the Postal Service after 36 and a half years.

It’s not that I hate my job or that I’m unhappy with the Postal Service. Quite the contrary! The Postal Service has been very good to me over my career and I certainly have been well compensated. I expect nothing more from my career and will leave the Postal Service as a very happy retiree.

It’s a good place to be. I haven’t felt this peaceful with myself in a very long time. Alcohol free for more than seven months, and the future looks bright. I’m feeling zero stress in spite of being in the midst of what should be a very stressful time at work and having just made a very stressful decision to retire! I’m counting down the days until my final work day, December 31, 2009. The whole world will be celebrating my retirement on New Year’s Eve!

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