A clumsy jump into retirement

My old workplace

My old workplace

The post below was written for an exercise in my creative writing class.

I can’t do it any longer. It will kill me if I keep going. After all, it is only a job and there must be more to life than going through the motions and playing the games. The pay and conditions are good but they don’t make up for the emptiness of the soul in doing something that no-one cares about.

The games – well they aren’t much fun. They are word games mostly. The government agrees to being a party to a strategy or initiative. Each year some lonely public servant checks what promises were made and provides some affirmative words to demonstrate that, yes, we, the government have really done something about it. It is written down in black and white weasel words, so it must be accountable. If it is not written down, there may be hell to pay.

I worked for the Office for Women’s Policy – in fact I was the last of the team to resign – I don’t think it is called that anymore. The issues considered were important but they got lost in the midst of political battles and point scoring. Either that or they got stuck in the mud of bureaucracy. For six months I worked on a cabinet submission to encourage greater participation of women on government boards. There was no appetite for this. The public cry was that women shouldn’t be supported to get on boards. After all, men don’t get support – they get appointed on merit. What – are you suggesting that every man on a board has more skills, knowledge and experience than the average female applicant? No, that doesn’t hold water.

Working full-time meant I left home at 7.30am each morning and got home at around 5.30pm each evening. I had little energy to enjoy my leisure time. Work consumed me. Some people can switch off after a day at the office but to me it was personal. The quality of my life was questionable.

We got away for weekends down south as often as we could. I couldn’t wait to get hold of the local papers and check out the real estate pages. We looked at houses and drove down the streets of Busselton and wondered what it would be like to live there. We dined out and pretended we were locals – could we make it a reality?

Unbeknown to me, Tom had done some research online about Busselton. I found a brochure in the mail one day about a Lifestyle Village in Broadwater, close to the beach. I didn’t pay much attention to it but suggested that we could have a look at it next time we were in Busselton. On our next visit we met with the sales rep and looked at a few houses on the Saturday. We decided to have a second look on the Sunday and took away a package of information to consider.

In no time at all, we signed the contract for our new home. We had three months to sell our Perth property. We put it on the market and it sold after thirteen days. Crunch time came at work – it wasn’t difficult to leave as I mentioned earlier, I was the last of the team to abandon ship. I was lucky to be able to keep a tenuous link to my job in case the experiment didn’t work out – this was six months leave without pay.

I haven’t looked back. I didn’t decide to retire – I just jumped out of the workforce when the opportunity presented itself. Now, five years later, I am still considering what my next act will be.

Hobbies and Interests

18 February 2014 006 (Copy)In 2010 I ceased working full-time and moved to the South West to enjoy the wonderful experience of not having to set the alarm and get up and go to work. Funnily enough, I still wake up early most days even though I don’t set the alarm.

I have been grappling with what best to do with my time now. I have tried a range of things, including self-employment, volunteer work, gardening, blogging and recently I joined a creative writing group.

Through most of my life I have gone along with what others are doing. I think being the youngest of five children means I am used to fitting it with the majority.

It is only now that I realise that I haven’t taken much time to pursue leisure activities that are truly my OWN interests.

Put simply, I don’t know what I want! I am working on it though and have taken some steps in that direction.

My reason for this blog today is to remind people (younger people) to make time to have some interests outside of work so that when it comes to retiring, you can look forward to spending more time doing what you love. Cultivate your interests during your working life so that it provides another avenue for finding satisfaction and fulfillment at that later stage.

Well, that’s my take on it :-). What do others think?

The age-old questions

“Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?

IMG_0482 (Copy)

Some people are really sensitive about their age and try to hide the truth from others – leave them guessing! For me, from an early age I looked older than my contemporaries. I think it is fair to say that trait has stayed with me so I just accept it. In fact, I often tell people how old I am just in case they think I am older!

My 29th birthday is the only one I really stressed over. Leaving my twenties behind seemed really significant at the time. I had three young children by that time. Sometimes I reflect on my life in decades, as follows:

0-10   All that childhood stuff

10-20   Probably the worst decade of my life – being a teenager is tough!

20-30   I enjoyed trying to be the model “Earth Mother”, baking my own bread etc and enjoying my young children

30-40   Wow! What happened? My life turned up-side-down with a broken marriage and being single again with young children

40-50   Life started to really improve at this point. I had a good job, mortgage and started getting my act together (at last!)

50-60   Well, I am not quite there yet. I have my sixtieth birthday later this year but this decade has been really good so far. I don’t know how I feel about turning sixty. I am aware that quite a few people I went to school with haven’t made it this far and I feel really grateful that I have.

60-70   Well, I feel fairly positive about the future. I have strong feelings about people in my age group continuing to play an active part in our world (however that translates for each of us). You might want to check out my other blog at http://www.encoreaustralia.wordpress.com. It has some great links relevant to this age group.

I am looking for ideas on how to celebrate my sixtieth, so send them through please. Big parties have no appeal, nor does jumping out of a plane – something a little less dramatic would be good 🙂

 

 

Passages/Stages/Phases

I am currently reading The Big Shift: Navigating to the New Stage Beyond Midlife, by Mark Freedman. As a result of learning about Marc and the Encore movement I decided to start-up a blog/website called Encore Australia.

I am hoping to tap into the numbers of baby boomers in Australia who are currently trying to navigate the second half of their lives in the 21st Century with out-dated guidance from the previous century.

Ferguson Valley 001 (Copy)

My own experience bears witness to the uncharted terrain traversed after giving up full-time employment. I now feel better informed due to reading Marc Freedman’s book and finding other resources on the internet.

An interesting organisation I found today is The Transition Network.  It provides a range of services to women 50+.

Once again, I am looking for similar resources that may be available in Australia. I will do some more research tomorrow 🙂

 

Encore Careers Australia

BLUE 013I recently wrote a post about making the transition from full-time work to a different lifestyle. You can see the original post here The Third Age

I have since decided to start a new blog about, and dedicated to, those of us who are past 50 and wondering how best to use our time for the next few decades.

My new blog is Encore Australia and you are very welcome to visit and leave any thoughts or comments on the site. I have also found some links that you may find of interest. I hope it will be a lively and interactive site that stimulates ideas and opportunities.

This is not a business venture and there is nothing for sale – it is for sharing ideas and inspiration.