Friday, December 15, 2006

Presidential Exit Strategy

President Bush is now officially a lame duck. With the midterm elections over and two years left in his final term, it’s all downhill from here.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t keep busy. As a twenty-five year veteran of the Canadian public service, I’ve been planning my imminent retirement for years. Here are a few handy hints I’ve picked up along the way that might come in handy for Mr. Bush:

* Cut back on your workload. Chances are you don’t feel like taking on as much and, since you’re nearing the end, you may find it difficult to get any new projects approved anyway. Enquire about such options as a four-day work week, compressed hours or even working part time.

* Do some mentoring. Teach your potential successors how to avoid your mistakes. Whether it was misfiling, misreporting or just plain missing, you can help them get it right next time.

* Find out who your pay advisor is in the human resources branch and ask about your retirement pension. You may be pleased to see how much you’ll actually be getting. Make sure you’ll have adequate health care coverage and don’t forget to ask if there’s a severance package, too.

* Now’s a good time to sort through all those briefings and memos you never had time to review. You might be surprised what you’ll find there that might have influenced past decisions. And dollars to doughnuts, there’ll be a few embarrassing things you’ll want to discard or shred.

* Check out your local library. When you retire, you’ll have lots of time to read up on all kinds of interesting topics like, for example, international diplomacy, basic finance and the history of the Middle East.

* To help fill up the extra time, consider volunteer work or a part time job. Volunteering at a food bank, an inner city school or a veterans’ hospital can make you feel like you’re really making a difference.

* Consider buying a vacation property - a cottage, a chalet or a 1600-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere. It will make a great retreat where you can reflect in private on your career successes.

* Spend time reconnecting with your family. Now is the time to take care of aging parents and wayward children. Try also to mend fences with your father and siblings if there have been any longstanding differences of opinion.

* Apologize for past wrongs. If you’re like me, you didn’t get to a mid-level position in the government without stepping on a few toes. Saying "I’m sorry" to anyone you unfairly beat out for a promotion or those you had to dismiss will go a long way to salve your conscience.

* Do a bit of legacy planning. Think about how you want to be remembered after you’re gone. Now’s the time to fix any problems you’ve caused and to implement your original plans. If it’s too late for that, you can always blame your predecessor or just pray and hope for the best.

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