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Wish I had known before layoff, retirement, or leaving: Part 5 - The Big Picture.

We asked HPAA members "What do you wish you had known before you left?"

The responses are organized into five articles:
- Heads Up - Surprises and Hazards
- Job and Career Issues
- Benefits Issues
- Financial Issues
- Looking at the Big Picture   [this article]

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The Big Picture - Wish I Had Known #5  (Most recent additions Feb 18, 2023)

The whole experience of leaving HP is complex, exhausting, and surrealistic.

Here are the "Wish I had known" items that look at the big picture.


Why didn't I do this sooner?

1) Laugh at yourself for taking care of HP's money (budgeting, record-keeping) more dutifully than your own (investing, disentangling accounts from HP).

2) It takes several months to catch up on your sleep.

3) It takes a few months of serious part-time work to get your investments and benefits set up independently of HP.

4) It takes years (about 7 for me) to disengage emotionally from HP - an optional achievement.

5) Applying skills you used at HP to helping a non-profit or friend is more rewarding emotionally than making a project deadline.

6) Creating a formal estate plan with a binder for your executor with all your accounts, assets, wishes and legal documents is fantastically liberating. Now you can focus fully on the people and activities that give meaning to your life.

I wish I had recognized much earlier the futility of my job and what it was doing to me. On the way home after an exhausting day at HP, I bought groceries. I realized that the young man bagging groceries at the store had done more for civilization that day than I had.

I was not sleeping at night because of what I was having to do to my people.

I wish I had talked it over with my kids earlier. I broke down as I was trying to discuss it with the kids. We talked about four hours today... It will set me free.

I wish I had known...

How much more I would enjoy life, away from the stress of the high tech world

How rewarding I would find it to do volunteer work rather than paid work

How jealous (resentful?) my neighbors would be that I was in no rush to find another job

Take the time off that you have earned and travel.   Especially if you are a long time employee, I found HP to be generous and accommodating on vacation time.  It's easy to get caught up in project after project, make a point to get out see new places and new things.   It's better for you and HP.

Take care of your health.   HP offers good medical coverage including preventative services, take advantage of it and get a yearly physical.   I am not sure what the current fitness center situation is but at a minimum most sites are large enough to support a good mid-day walk.  Important if you spend most of the day sitting in meetings or staring at a monitor.

Donít maintain your working schedule. Is there really a good reason any more to start your day at 6am? Things that you were obliged to do at weekends are often easier to do midweek. [For example, playing golf.]

My son-in-law had the best line after HPE was done with me at the end of 2016: "When you're retired, every day is a Saturday."

That is so true. No more alarm clock (except for appointments) and only get up early when I have to.

If there are people that you really want to keep in touch with, make sure you have good contact information.

Over time, many of your relationships will fade away, primarily because the shared interest is no longer there. Try to develop (if you donít have any) friendships outside the company sphere.

Many people seem to move states immediately upon retirement. Think carefully Ė for some, a stable home environment may aid the transition into retirement far more than a stressful fresh start somewhere else.

After a few months of sorting out your affairs, youíll find yourself with a big time gap to fill.

Don't underestimate how quickly you will be forgotten.

I found great fulfillment in doing unpaid non-profit work. Turns out that the skills we learned at HP are fairly rare. Research in depth, talk to people, get to root causes, diplomatically sound out other stakeholders, develop alternatives, do effective presentations, finally nudge people and organizations into implementing the required actions.

I wish I had been prepared for how nasty things would become inside HP. Like one of those fake "cage matches" on TV wrestling -- except that it is for real and the people are better dressed. :)

You will be surprised to find out who you real friends are. Some co-workers will treat you like you have a contagious disease. They don't want to be seen to associate with you, afraid that they be flagged as a loser. Others will be wonderfully supportive and helpful.

I thought retirement would be good, but I had no idea how good it really is. I retired in 2012 at the age of 55 and I have never had as good of a time in my life as I have had for these past two years in retirement. Not working for money is the path to happiness.

This is a beginning as well as an end.


These issues are discussed on the HPAA's Benefits and Finance forums -- another reason why you need to join the HPAA once you are sure you know you are leaving or being laid off.  Join the HP Alumni Association: If formerly a regular, direct U.S. employee of HP or HPE -- or in the process of leaving.  No charge, thanks to HPAA's Supporting Members.

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