A happy new year to all my readers whoever and wherever you may be. I hope you are enjoying reading this blog, I certainly enjoy writing it. It has been something of a lifeline at a difficult time for me i.e. the first 4 months of what some people call retirement and others call the third age. I’ve recorded my thoughts about these difficulties in a number of blogs so no need to repeat them here. For obvious reasons I prefer the descriptor – third age. I prefer to think of this being a beginning of a period of my life rather than finishing one, a new chapter, rather than a past one, new opportunities, well you get the point.
I’ve written elsewhere that, as a matter of habit, I review my goals at the end of each year. This review of the year 2013 is based on my ambitions for the year as described at the beginning of my diary. I revisited what I had written a couple of days ago. The diary said that, as this was my retirement year, I should look for a year of reinvention. Then, shortly afterwards, I wrote that, having looked at my diaries from 5 or 6 years previously, I concluded that, even in this historic year, (admittedly not the only year I’ve retired, I did so once before 5 years ago then changed my mind) I should be thinking in terms of development not reinvention, evolution rather than revolution. Road to Damascus experiences have never served me well. If you look at this in terms of a blog yet to be published I suppose that the broad context is the model I referred to in this blog, the services / customers model. I would be looking at probably same services for different customers. If you read this blog, looking for a new identity and alongside it my goal-setting blog I think you might see what I mean.
In my diary in January, I wrote about developing my counselling skills and, wait for it, joining or forming a group (musical)! Ha. Such were my thoughts about retirement activities at that time. Finally, on the first day of 2013, I wrote, in my diary, that I thought there might be a missing link in these ‘plans’ but I didn’t know what it might be. Well this we now know is the puppies, but they certainly didn’t figure in our thinking at the beginning of the year. Spontaneity, you bet.
Looking back at the year at a broader level. Regrets I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention. Well no, otherwise this blog might be a bit dull for you, the reader and it would also be short. Let’s start with the failures. This is the first time I have ever reviewed my goals, and failure to achieve them, so publicly. I don’t know how comfortable this feels. Time will tell. Was it Oscar Wilde who said we learn from our mistakes? If it wasn’t it should have been. So let’s see if I can spot any discernible lessons from 2013’s disappointments.
The first one of the year was fairly minor in the scheme of a life but you can get a sense of my disappointment from the amount of space, not to mention photos, I’ve given to it here. It was, as the adverts say (and I hate the term), a dream trip (for me, not for everybody) on the train or rather several or rather many trains, to Istanbul. I love trains and I love working out the details of our travels. I love spending money on planning the trip (on books and maps) let alone the trip itself. I bought the Thomas Cook European Rail timetable and a railway map of Europe from Waterstones. Just as well I bought the book, as I understand, this information is no longer available in book form but only ‘on line’. Here’s what they both looked like. They’re symbolic of the year I feel, but I’ve no idea how, but they definitely look nice and cheer this blog up no end. And it needs it.
The timetable I devised, all with precise timings, which for the sake of your sanity, I’ve omitted, briefly looked like this:
London – Munich
Munich – Budapest
Budapest – Belgrade
Belgrade – Sofia
Sofia – Istanbul
All with various stopovers and overnight train travel. If I remember correctly, this all took about a week, then a couple of days in Istanbul and finally we would fly back with Turkish Airlines which, as good fortune and cunning planning would have it, are part of the United Airlines Star Alliance group. This would meet the requirements for keeping our air miles alive. It never happened of course. Thomas Cook obviously never wanted the job in the first place, despite publishing the map and the timetable, they were pretty insipid. I probably should have done it myself but I was working then and it didn’t feel like I had the time even though I enjoyed the planning part. After much chasing of TC, many excuses, they couldn’t book this ticket, couldn’t reserve this sleeper, after a couple of weeks of this we kicked the trip into touch. Sadly.
We also cancelled a trip to Istanbul with a company called Art Pursuits (they wouldn’t give us our deposit back, they were legally right but lost a good customer) later in the year for a variety of reasons I won’t go into now. Will we never get to Istanbul? Instead our strategy to keep our air miles alive was to fly SAS (also members of Star Alliance) to Copenhagen and Moscow. The first was nice but rather dull and Moscow was completely bonkers but that, maybe, is for another day. Incidentally, if you had asked me a year ago what I would do in my third age, I would have answered without hesitation – travel. We haven’t and with the pups now part of the family I can’t see how we will. I hope I’m wrong, we have always travelled and would like to do it more not less.
Another potentially more serious ‘failure’ was related to my now ex-career. I’d published a set of training materials at the end of previous year –www.thecompleteresourcebehaviourtraining.com. Because I wanted to keep this particular door ajar if not altogether open, I set up a website (above) and involved two partners to support the impending work. I won’t go into details at this point, but it hasn’t worked. Despite, what seemed like, a well-designed strategy of putting free downloads on the above site (though I say so myself, my back catalogue is impressive and I was happy to give it all away) and then tweeting about this as a way of getting people to the site and hence to buy either materials or training. The ‘traffic’ and results have been disappointing. A big disappointment in 2013 to be honest.
The other related disappointment has been around working with partners abroad. When my training materials were published the publishers were ‘kind’ enough to give me more ‘free’ packs than I was entitled to. This meant I could send them around the globe and I did – quite literally – China, Australia, USA, Germany, even possibly India, let nobody say I wasn’t ambitious. So far none of these speculations has returned any projects, which was all I was looking for. Just something interesting to do in my third age.
I admit this is in danger of turning into blogging as therapy so enough of this focus on failure except to ask the best question – what can be learned from the above experiences? A key question to ponder on is – if these doors hadn’t closed would I have tried so hard to open the new door which is this blog? Probably not. So, on balance, that’s good.
One thing I have always known but which has been reinforced this last year, is that if you rely on other people, which is inevitable to some extent, and often desirable, but if you do you put your well-being beyond your own control. It can be good but a control freak like me finds it frustrating. The great thing about this blog is that its success – or failure – is in my own hands. It’s a short supply chain as was said of horse meat in pork pies or whatever. Quite a popular message, reduce food miles travelled and complexity of the chain, wasn’t that the mantra? Well, that’s what I’m going to take into the next year. Greater independence of action. When I write about goal setting in my next blog you will be able to judge how successful I’ve been.
And the good news, well not as interesting really, the pups, the blog, retirement and still quite sane. Not much to write about, much easier and, perhaps surprisingly, more fun to write about the cock ups if that’s what they are. So, as suggested, my next blog will be about goal setting in retirement. Want to know how a trained and experienced psychologist sets goals in his retirement, read and learn. Happy new year.