And so as the oasis of Christmas slowly retreats into the distant past and resolutions once made are now slowly broken, we have to take account of that other annual tradition which is commonly known as ‘taking stock’. Originally referring to physical stock held by a trader, it is now much more widely used in a metaphorical sense.
It really is quite convenient that our lives are broken down into bite-size chunks – commonly known as years – because we all need to take stock of our existence at some time. Whether this occurs around either a boardroom table or a kitchen table, there is no doubt about the fact that this is an ideal time to do it. There’s no point in starting this process as soon as we are back from the previous end of year’s festivities as at this point our minds are still full of gobbledygook, which is why we indulge ourselves in fatuous resolutions.
When taking stock we have to consider the past, present and the future, although it is fair to say that the past is a place to learn from and not to live in. I’m now well into my retirement but even so I examine my past when thinking about the future. Did I make the most of it? Did I really need to go to the gym when a nice walk would have been better? Why am I still paying my membership fee? Why? Because every day I wake up and think that today is the day that I am going to start going to the gym again, and I never quite make it. Maybe I should take up bowls, but I don’t have any white jumpers.
I’ve had a bicycle in my garage for many years which has not been used since the last of the kids left home. I thought that maybe this was to be my fitness solution for last year but I had a particular problem with turning right (which would be left if you are in a country where you drive on the wrong side of the road). The whole thing became very dangerous so I aborted this activity. The bike has now ended up at the local refuse tip.
I’m not sure that I really achieved my weight loss target for last year. Well actually I am sure. I didn’t! I can resist anything but temptation (thank you Oscar Wilde). Oh and whilst we are on the subject, I really did manage to cut back on alcoholic drinks during the previous year – apart from on holidays that is, or if we are meeting up with friends; I should also point out that I’ve been most successful in my goal of acquiring as many new friends as possible.
At the beginning of last year I resolved to spend more time in the garden and looking back I find that I was pretty successful at achieving this goal, or that is to say that I watch that TV programme Gardeners’ World whenever I can. I would add that it is most encouraging to learn that it is now ‘de rigueur’ to have a wild patch in one’s garden – I actively encourage this.
I set out a year ago to become an expert cook and to be honest I haven’t been very successful in this resolve. My dear wife, and I’m sure that this is to do with jealousy, cannot bring herself to allow me the freedom of the kitchen and materialises like a genie out of a lamp as soon as I drop something or she smells burning – which is often. My attempt at Swedish meatballs was an absolute disaster and we haven’t seen much of those particular dinner guests since. I gave up my advanced attempts at cookery about mid-way through the year and returned to concentrating on my own particular speciality which is boiled eggs, and at which I am considered an expert - by me that is - although I’m better at hard boiled than soft boiled.
So there we are, my stock has been well and truly taken. What I am trying to allude to here is that taking stock of your situation every now and again is just as important as setting goals. Knowing where you’ve been is just as important as knowing where you are going. This philosophy is as important to commercial organisations as it is to individuals, but anyway whatever you do, make sure that you enjoy the rest of your year.