I’ll just check the date, I’m guessing it’s mid-October some time. I know Christmas has just gone but that must have been some kind of rehearsal for the real one coming up in December. It can’t possibly be the end of 2017 not after 8 or 9 months. What’s that you say, it really is the end of 2017 which means another year has come and gone without me noticing. OK, I’ve been aware of some of it but not a whole year’s worth. Sadly the evidence is overwhelming, 2017 has come to an end and therefore it is the time to review our year. As has become my custom in this blog.
I reluctantly re-read last year’s equivalent blog in order to prepare for this one. Interesting, very interesting. I wrote about goal-setting or New Year resolutions in terms of being in control of our retirement lives. This as opposed to sitting back and just seeing what came along, taking a chance rather than taking control. I still think it is the way to go but I have to confess I smiled a little when I read that one of my goals at the beginning of the year was completely superseded at the end of the year by its direct opposite. That’s building up the gardening business as opposed to closing it down. Planning our lives doesn’t always work out but then you’d be surprised if I suggested otherwise.
One good thing about setting your goals at the beginning of the year and writing them at the front of your diary is that it’s easy to look back and judge the success of the year as determined by these ambitions rather than by some vague unstated criteria as to what constitutes success. I notice I called them ‘focus areas’ back in January probably in an effort to distance myself from the more career-oriented ‘goals’ and goal setting. I seem to have gone back to goals now, but have I really?
There was a strong flavour of simplifying our retirement lives back then. I had written – sort out the gardening business; make decisions about having 4 houses and put a bit more travel in the year. We’ve done the first of these by closing the gardening business and thank God or whoever, for that. It was clear that four houses were too many morally, financially and practically and although I must be cautious, never over ‘til the fat lady sings type of thing, it does look as if we’ve sold the Pateley cottage and by so doing cleared our debts. So a good year in that sense. Oh and number one son returned to OZ after 7 months living with his parents. Nuff said.
The travel ‘goal’ hasn’t worked so well. It’s been OK, our now traditional visit to the West coast of Ireland which, all being well, we will repeat this coming May. We spent a week on a Welsh vineyard in September and our once-yearly visit to that London. In between travels between houses feature on a regular basis. But no big trip and that’s mostly down to the pups. We’re OK with this situation but it’s going to come into focus this coming year when we’re both 70 and come under pressure (both externally and self-imposed) to do something special and that will probably have some travel aspect to it. We do worry about leaving the dogs however, that they will be unhappy without us or, worse still, that they won’t miss us at all and not want to come home. We will see.
I have to remind myself periodically that this is, in theory, a blog about retirement. At a distance now of four plus years into retirement I find that it’s transforming from a blog about a man retiring into a blog about a man who happens to be retired and who’s getting older, with all that that entails. One thing that getting older seems to strongly imply is that, in the context of this blog, goal setting gets a bit harder. Not impossible, I’m too set in my habits (of goal-setting) to give this up altogether, but it’s definitely more challenging. I fear the day when, at the beginning of the year, I say to myself, oh bugger it, I can’t be bothered to set any goals, to have any ambitions etc.
But I digress, this blog is supposed to be about reviewing the kind of goals I set myself in our fourth retirement year. At the beginning of my diary beneath the three focus areas above I had written ‘goals’ as follows – continue with this blog, develop our vineyard and my music. On reading last year’s 2016 goals I realised what I’d exactly written was – develop vineyard, try and get blogs published as a book and form or join a (jazz) group. This year (i.e. 2017, keep up) I’d toned them down somewhat probably to avoid disappointment or having to write that I’d failed with these goals. On the positive side this last year, I have written about 100 new blogs mostly about retirement in some form; tried to improve the soil of the vineyard and buy a few replacement vines and, a big one, joined a jazz ‘group’ which meets once a fortnight. Not sure what the future holds for this goal this coming year of 2018.
I must have been quite pleased with my efforts this last year because, by scoring each area on a scale of one to ten and even throwing in a lower score for my health (5 or 6 ) – diabetes, gout, wonky knees and the rest – I still managed an overall rating of 8.5. The best one I’ve given myself since records began. So against my goals, and that’s the important qualification, it looks like we’ve had a successful year.
Which only leaves me with the big question about next year. I’ve already admitted I’m going to find this hard or is it that impossible moment? I like all of the focus areas I’ve got left after removing gardening business and one house. I can’t think of any other area I would want to remove or to add to give myself a more fulfilling retirement. In fact I’d say it feels like a year for hanging on to what we’ve got rather than adding anything new and I never thought I would write that.
PS. In case you were wondering, I know Mrs Summerhouse has her own fan base so just to tell you she is working on her next art work and we’ll review her work when we publish that.