It’s a strange thing but I’ve found it more difficult to make New Year resolutions, to set goals if you like, since I retired. Sometimes, dare I say it, it feels almost pointless. It’s taken me a while to work out why this should be. I think when I was working there was, given that I didn’t set work type goals, only a limited amount of time to ‘fill’. Now with this tabla rasa business, the wide open spaces of retirement are a little bit intimidating, a bit debilitating even. I know there is a school of thought that says New Year resolutions are unhelpful, a waste of time even. That said, I feel compelled to write a blog about how retirement resolutions might differ from pre-retirement resolutions and a look at what goals I am setting myself for 2016.
So what problems have I had with setting goals since I retired? I suppose one temptation is, in an effort to fill all the now available time, to set too many, I’ll call them goals, I prefer the word to resolutions. The result of too much goal setting is that I, for example, end up with a wide range of examples, some of them inconsequential to say the least. Then it all gets a bit messy, a bit formless and lacking focus. This next year I have decided to err on the side of minimal goal setting – three key areas in fact. I will return to these three areas at the end of this blog.
I’ve written before about the importance of carrying those life values, the ones that hopefully have guided you well in your pre-retirement life, into your retirement. Linked to my last point, a wide range of goals runs the risk of not being value-related. An absence of this link reduces the likelihood of the set goals being achieved. Of course if a review and revision of a person’s values upon retirement, means a change of those values and a niggling voice in your head, saying you’re retired now, think differently about your life options, then any goals you set for yourself will need to relate to your new values. And this has been something of a problem – a certain lack of confidence in what my retirement values should be. On the whole I’ve tended to stick with the ones that served me well pre-retirement – being creative, continued learning, variety in my activities, that kind of thing, but I do keep worrying away that maybe I should have new ones now. This lack of clarity in my thinking is another reason that has made it just that bit harder to set goals for 2016.
I said there is a school of thought that says that goal-setting generally and resolution making specifically is an unhelpful process. I think how you feel about this depends on your view of proactive versus reactive. I’ve always inclined towards the proactive on the grounds that this gives me the maximum control over my life, if you’ve read these blogs before you will know that being in control is a biggie for me. Many other people I have no doubt particularly when they retire incline towards sitting back and seeing what comes along. Maybe the anti-goal setting people believe that by setting yourself specific goals you fail to keep your options open. Focusing only on set goals a whole lot of possibilities pass by unnoticed and ungrasped. They could be right, in case they are I’ve decided to leave a bit more time unallocated in this (2016) year’s goal setting. But doing this feels a little uncomfortable so this leaving things to chance is another reason why goal setting for me has been a greater challenge post retirement.
Finally, and for the umpteenth time in these blogs, I have to reference the concept of ‘the missing link’. Put simply it’s that feeling that, no matter how comprehensive my goal setting process has been, I’ve missed something. I know friends have said, for God’s sake stop agonising about doing the right thing and get on with your life, and they’d be right. And yet… Despite accepting the logic of their kindly advice I’m inhibited in my goal setting by this nagging feeling that I’m missing that one key goal that would give me complete retirement satisfaction. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.
So enough already of why I’m having a hard time setting goals let me tell you briefly about the goals I am setting for myself for next year, not that there’s any reason to suppose anybody reading this would be interested in what little old me is doing or will be attempting to do, but I’ll tell you anyway. As I say I’ve decided to keep my goals to three main areas. These are – 1) Renovating my late mother’s house and then selling it. 2) Buying the gardening business from number one son and running it properly i.e. without him taking any money out of the business and with us making all the decisions. This is a biggy, mind you so is the first goal, and I shall no doubt be writing about this aspect of our retirement as the year unfolds. The third, and last, major area is 3) the vineyard. I intend to write the next in the vineyard series shortly because, despite what might be imagined, there has been a lot going off up the dale. We’ve been a bit casual with certain aspects of the vineyard, like checking and responding to the soil balance over the last couple of years. So we’re rectifying this in the next few weeks. In other words we will try and take the vineyard a bit more seriously this coming season.
So there we have it, my / our retirement goals for 2016, they will be written into my new diary (as above) and then probably broken down into smaller steps. There’s no music goal although I hope this part of my retirement will continue without the formal workshop side of things. No travel goal (with daughter and partner in South Africa for cricket and son in OZ, who needs to travel?) but I’m absolutely sure that we will be revisiting Ireland maybe to the self-same house in the spring. I’m hoping that by being clear, simple and realistic in my goals, I shall stand a greater chance of achieving all or part of them. They are all goals that are within my control to be successful with the major exception of selling the house. That is beyond my control but advice from estate agents suggest that ‘done up’ it will stand more chance of selling. We will see, we will see. What a marvellous challenge this retirement business is, at least if that’s the way you make it.