Today I worked my last day in an office – and I don’t know when, or if, I’ll ever go back to one!
Adreno is a company I’ve been a part of for six years. That’s 25% of my entire life, and essentially my whole adult life. I started there in February 2011 when I was just 19 and studying Law full-time.
When I started at Adreno it was a single retail store in Brisbane that consisted of three businesses – Spearfishing, Scuba Diving and Wetsuits – with three eCommerce stores as well. Over the years we added a swimwear store, a triathlon store, and (weirdly) an LED lighting store. We had grown to six businesses in the one retail location, with six eCommerce websites!
Working the marketing calendar for that kind of beast was something else and taught me so much about multi-tasking, prioritisation, and most of all, how businesses run.
Eventually, the company made a great call to sell the newest additions and head back to what they were good at – Spearfishing, Scuba Diving and Wetsuits. So we said farewell to swimwear, triathlon and LED lighting, and instead expanded by opening two new diving megastores in Sydney and Melbourne.
Retail paradises for anyone who loves the underwater world.
Marketing those store Grand Openings was something else. All the work we’d put in to building the Social Media community over the five years paid off – we opened the doors for Sydney and Melbourne 8 months apart, and over 450 people lined up for each Grand Opening!
Walking along a crowd that stretched a whole city block – seeing all those people that you and your team had rallied together to see a store open… Ugh. It just fills you with pride to be a part of something like that.
But where do you go from there in a business?
Around that time, in between the Melbourne and Sydney openings, was when I bought Kuna. I went sailing for a month to deliver her from Adelaide to Brisbane with her former owner. It was 23 days of sailing non-stop day and night, with the exception of one day in Apollo Bay for weather and a day in Newcastle for repairs. Just three delivery crew, 3,000nm of ocean, and a 38ft yacht!
When I got back from that trip and sat down at my desk I was overwhelmed with a “what’s this all for?” feeling as I looked around the little office. And that feeling never really left me.
Did I really want to continue investing 80% of my life into this? Is it really what I still value and love doing?
I fell out of love with my job, and I began to feel like I was filling the days with the same things over and over… My motivation and work ethic waned, and I hated that. No, I didn’t hate my job, or the people. But being comfortable in an office with a bum-in-seats mentality for 8 hours a day just didn’t align with my values anymore – especially since I had tasted the freedom of sailing!
Whenever I mentioned to anyone that I was thinking of leaving they’d tell me I’m crazy. “You’ve got it so good, you’ll never find that again”.
And they’re 100% right, I’ll never find a workplace like that again.
But just okay or this will do has never sat right with me. And my new dream is to work from the yacht, and go sailing – so something had to give.
Eventually, mid-January, I built up the courage to have that conversation with my boss and mentor of the past six years.
We ironed out the details slowly over the next couple of weeks – when would I leave, what work could I take with me on a contract basis. Tim suggested an end of April departure, after our Easter Sale. It was nice to know that if I wanted to I could have stayed that long, but I was ready to leave and so we settled on 3 weeks’ notice.
Today was that last day!
It was filled with beautiful moments. I was in early for a meeting, so I got to unlock the shop, punch in the security code and turn all the lights on for the last time. My beautiful team all went for lunch. They bought me incredibly thoughtful (mostly yacht-related!) gifts and hand-made a card with well-wishes that I couldn’t read at work in case it started tears.
We drank wine and ate cheese. Tim took me for a coffee. They bought me beautiful flowers. I felt incredibly special!
And then at 5.30pm I packed my things into a box, shut down my computer, said “see you soon” to the team as they left the office. Then I switched off all of the lights for the last time.
There were some tears driving home and a whole spectrum of emotions. But the overwhelming feeling that will stick with me about today, is “right”. It just all felt so right.
Regardless of anything else – whether I’ll make it work, whether I’ll be able to get enough income, whether it completely fails and I end up right back at the beginning – I can just tell I’m doing the right thing.
I have no idea what my life will look like for the next 6 or 12 months. It’s liberating and terrifying all at the same time!
I couldn’t bring myself to plan before I left – like most things in life, I just had to leap first and figure it out!
Writing this and trying to explain the feeling of freedom makes me think of an Alan Watts speech, where he talks about imagining that you could fall asleep every night and dream any dream you wanted to dream. You would go to sleep and create a perfect life where everything went exactly as you planned and you had everything you ever wanted. He hypothesises though, that eventually you would get sick of this perfect life, and you would start adding unexpected elements to your dreams – surprises, twists and turns. And you’d wake up and think “wow, that was quite the ride!”. Until eventually, you would make your dreams so full of surprises that you would end up living the exact life that you’re living right now – completely in the unknown…
At the moment, there’s just something so satisfying for me about not knowing exactly what’s around the corner.