It Is Now!

I got involved in a rather frustrating conversation with a friend today. He regaled me with a list of what he is going to do when he retires.  He is forty something and likely won’t retire for 20 years!

Someone else I know has a watch with no hands and no numbers on it.  It just says, “It’s Now!”, in slightly shouty red letters. Yes, really.  He is a little wearing and prone to trying to do everything at once. I keep meaning to get that tatooed on the inside of my eyelids though.

Anyway, I shared my retirement to do list (which I had to make up on the spot) with my friend and he observed that it’s mostly made up of things I already do, albeit not quite as much as I may like.

Some people appear never to retire, they just sort of slow down and continue doing things that they really enjoy.  Writers and explorers often fall into this category, as do many sports people when their passion flows into punditry and journalism.

It struck me that if you retire and completely stop doing what you were doing before, that it is likely that you didn’t enjoy what you were doing.

Another friend once told me at a time of personal crisis for me, that I should choose to be in control, a polite way of saying, “Don’t be a victim”.  Great advice, the best I have ever received.

Anyway, it is Now! Enjoy it.

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14 thoughts on “It Is Now!

  1. Thanks for posting this – it is a great reminder of how I want and try to live! It’s why, even though I don’t have much time, I’ve taken up the guitar – I practice at odd hours. By the time I retire, I’ll (hopefully) be half decent at it! Attitude is important — I hate washing dishes, but blast Madonna at the same time and throw a few dance steps into the mix and it can be an event… even fun 🙂

  2. I must admit to being rather intrigued as to what you decided (on the spot) would form the basis of your retirement activities. I sincerely hope golf did not feature anywhere. But I do agree that you ought to continue to do things that you did when you were working since there is no reason not to. I don’t quite buy your point about explorers since they have found a vocation in life that is not like the work that most of the rest of the world do. So to continue not working when you stop working is not really very hard at all. I’m sure Elton John feels the same. But, put another way, when you retire will you continue to run customer services only this time for your wife and dog ? I can just imagine you setting up a small helpdesk in the kitchen and building a ticket system out of lego. I would come and visit and call ahead to see if I could arrange a guest chair and perhaps the use of an iPhone charger. You could show me a report of tickets raised this month and how quickly you managed to fix Liz’s hairdryer.

    Or, you could retire and just do fun stuff. I know that’s what I’ll do. And it sure as hell won’t involve a Big Bertha.

    • I must confess that golf is on my, “shoot me if I ever”, list. Saying that it was on my dad’s list also. But then he took it up when he sort of retired (more on that to follow). I viewed this as an act of treachery on a grand scale at first.

      My problem with golf is the smug, clubby, beblazeredness of it all.

      One day I went to his club for for lunch. It was a Saturday and I had to wear a shirt with a collar and anything but jeans. I thought my eyes were going to roll off the back of my head.

      As I walked into the club I caught a glimpse of a photo on the notice board. “Hang on, that’s a photo of the board of the company my dad worked for.”, I thought. Which it was, except that it was actually a photo of the club committee.

      On the one hand it was a shameless takeover, they’d all nominated, seconded and elected each other. On the other hand, that’s what they’d all done for a living and they ran the club very well bringing all the skills they’d learned at work to something new that they all enjoyed.

      As well as running a golf club he has also become chairman of a charity (http://www.sylviawright.org/) that runs a school and hospital for deaf kids in India, again bringing his professional skills to bear, this time for the good of others, a well trodden route to happiness.

      As to me, I doubt I will be in customer service forever, in fact that’s not what I do, it’s just my current job title. I do what I have always done:

      Spot gaps that need filling
      Work out who can fill them
      Connect them together (repeatedly)
      Try to be fearless and relentless
      Be rational and face the facts
      Learn new things every day
      Encourage others loudly (especially when it’s going wrong)

      Most of all, enjoy it or go and do something else.

      Cheers,

      Anthony

      • I am extremely heartened to hear your tales of beblazeredness, vaguely anti-golfic sentiment but, above all else, the fact that you won’t be in customer services all your life. I did worry for a time you would morph into David Brent but I fear that less now I know you come from such good, moral stock as that which your father seems to have produced. All too often that combo of fat / bald / chauvinist company director and fat / bald / chauvinist golfer ultimately end in turpitude. That said, I’m still not going to pick up golf any time soon (at all) since I find that fat / bald / chauvinist golfer-types to be even worse company than besandled Swampy-types.

        I also admire ‘fearless’ and ‘relentless’ which quite appropriately describe your blog and my comments thereon.

        Pip, pip. Off to climb a tree.

  3. Nice post.

    David Zinger told me of an employee he knew years ago when he worked in employee relations (I think) for Seagram. The guy was a misery – always wishing for retirement, and the golf that would come with it. David met the same guy at a golf club years later and it turned out he now hates golf!

    It is now, indeed, and as you indicate, it is also then and yet to come.

    Most of all I try to be here now. And I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that a) it’s a journey and b) where I’ve been has influenced where I am and c) where I am is influencing where I’m going. In mathematical terms I hope it works out about 75% now, 7% then and 18% to the remainder.

    We have differing and well chatted through opinions on control, and though I get your closing point, I’d plump for ‘choose your own attitude’ as the thing I cling to when the waves are lashing around my little boat.

    Happy Monday July 1st 2013 08:51 – Doug

    • Quite right, life would be a bit dull if we don’t learn and don’t make plans. That way I would still be world #1 at Planetoid on the BBC Micro.

      I suspect its our old friend fear that causes people to post date plans. In the main, that’s a fear of what people will say / think if you are simply yourself. I know that has held me back. Less so now, but still to some extent.

      Those numbers sound incredibly precise 🙂

  4. When I was on maternity leave, I had visions of all these ‘other’ things I would do when I wasn’t at work. And I didn’t do any of them. The week I was due back at work I had a big panic attack that I had wasted my time ‘off’ and was stressing to my mother about it. And she said ‘If you really wanted to do any of that stuff, you would have made time to do it’. I sort of relate that to what you’re trying to say. Making big plans for when you have more time, means that aren’t really what is important to you, as if they are, you’d make time and do them now rather than waiting. Which is why I envisage my retirement would very much like my maternity leave except hopefully with more sleep.

    PS I actually like golf. I am terrible and no club would ever willingly accept me as a member,but luckily there are some public courses and private driving ranges that don’t care who you are or what school you went to and let me get some frustration out by hitting balls very hard.

  5. We spend a lot of time at work. We can get sucked into fuelling a life style.

    I like it full on, I love working with clever, interesting people. Because I have to work, and while it is often tough and occasionally dull, I insist on enjoying it overall.

    Having kids is as about as worthwhile as it gets though.

    (I don’t really have it in for golf like I used to.)

  6. I loved my job so much that it threatened to damage my relationship and my health. I decided that I needed to change my evil ways and start looking after myself and the people that I love. It was a wrench but I ditched the job (and the dosh that went with it!) and went to Italy for 3 months. Any regrets? None. Work gives you a lot but it also drains you. It was time for me to move on. Will I go back to work? Maybe, but without the intensity. It’s not the same for everyone but for me this has been the right time for a lifestyle change. And NO GOLF EVER…..there are limits!!!!!

    • I don’t know what you did for a living before your wonderful spell in Umbria, which is so elegantly captured in your blog.

      I really hope you discovered some things that you do rather well and enjoy into the bargain.

      We do spend far too much time at or thinking about work. I’ve let it get too much recently. There is a fine line between intense and obsessed.

      While I can’t claim this post is not at all about work, part of its intent is to recognise that playing to your preferences and strengths can be enjoyable and productive. That may lead us to do things we worry others will consider less important, that confer less perceived status.

      It would be arrogant (I do arrogant under pressure, really quite spectacularly well) to say I don’t care at all what others think. I could perhaps care a little less though. I admire your taking the plunge, for deciding that it is now.

      Part of my rebalancing has been to try to be myself, to do things my way, while listening hard and not feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable in the process.

      Meanwhile, I look forward to the relaunch of magicspello with great anticipation. I will trot off and say so in the right place, right, er, now !

      • I love what I do for “work” so much so that I don’t even think of it as work. Sure, I get paid for it, but I have a found a vocation that allows me to thoroughly enjoy turning up to work every day, maintain a healthy work life balance, and feel stupendously fulfilled when I get home. It is possible, but I think it is (sadly) extremely rare and, indeed, many people will spend their entire working lives seeking their true vocation and never find it. It helps that I can easily bring my family into my working life I suppose but my message is not to look at work as a necessary evil but, instead, when you find something that you thoroughly enjoy to find a way to balance it with your life out of work rather than turning your back on it.

        Off to watch a movie.

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