Honestly, I only meant it as a joke. It was the first Monday of my retirement and I had just come downstairs for breakfast. I said to the lady wife: ‘I think I’m going to change the kitchen cupboards round a bit so that they are more efficient’. It was not well received!
Seriously though, retirement, some say, is a time for taking stock of your life, or perhaps more accurately, your new life. I’ve been sort of retired for some time and from experience this is not a good time to take stock of your preceding years as it’s surely too late to make any realistic changes.
Take the subject of exercise for example, I know people who, upon retirement, decide to enter into an exercise regime. Don’t get me wrong; in no way am I implying that this is a bad thing, but fitness is a bit like saving money, it has to be accrued steadily over a long period of time in order to be in any way effective. Upon retirement you need to have accumulated funds in your fitness bank. This is just as important as amassing funds in your fiscal bank. There’s no point in waking up one morning and thinking: ‘Blimey I’m retired! .....ehm?’ It can sneak up on you like a rising tide.
Anyway, this article is not meant to be about retirement, it’s about taking stock. This is something that we all do from time to time, and especially as we reach each one of those important decades in our life cycle. Let me elaborate:
Twenty: Who gives a toss, I’m going to live for ever, and being thirty is so far away it really doesn’t matter anyway. I’d sooner live in a commune.
Thirty: Where did those years go? I’ve got a family, but am I in the right job? Have I got a title? I should have by now. I tell my friends that I’m a manager but that I have declined a company car because of the tax implications. My ambition is to be a director by the time I’m Forty. I really ought to think about a pension. Maybe I need a new job. Maybe I should start up my own business. I really must start exercising.
Forty: I should have had that promotion. That job was ideal for me. The person that got it was really good at ingratiating himself. At least I’ve still got my pride. ‘Can I get you a cup of coffee Mrs Phillips?’ My ambition is to become a director by the time I’m fifty. I really must start exercising.
Fifty: I’m surrounded by young graduates who keep getting promoted and coming up with stupid ideas in meetings, which amazingly, then get adopted by the management. I’m not very impressed with the management, they’re a crowd of idiots. Mid-life crisis isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be - nor is crazy paving - as I don’t yet seem to have any members of the opposite sex throwing themselves at my feet! I must cancel my gym membership, I haven’t used it for five years. I’m very proud of my son and daughter who are both graduates and in good jobs. Who wants to be a Director anyway? I’m so pleased that I decided not to get involved in the rat-race.
Sixty: Blimey, I’ll be retired soon. All of this effort and dedication and I bet that two days after I’ve left they won’t even remember me. In fact the way things are going two days after I’ve left, I won’t even remember me!
Obviously the above is somewhat truncated, but I’m sure that you get my drift. If I look back, maybe I should have taken stock a bit more often and maybe I depended upon luck a little too much. We all have a great way of rationalising what happens to us. The other person or company is always lucky, whereas our own success is the result of our astuteness.
The process of rationalisation is however no bad thing, and as we grow older our ability to rationalise increases: ‘Why do I need a new car, this one is perfectly adequate and I’ve got nobody who I wish to impress anyhow. Or to put it another way: ‘I can’t afford a new car’. See what I mean? We do it all the time.
I suppose what I am saying here is that if you can’t face up to the truth then maybe vindicating yourself is a better option. The irony is that as we get older we become wiser and as a result our ambitions change. I suppose it’s correct to say that, ostensibly, self-delusion promotes a happy state of mind. Although, quite frankly it certainly doesn’t apply to me, I’ve always been far too faultless.