After 26 years in the Australian Public Service (APS), plus a few years of employment in Canada before that, I “retired” from employment in June 2012, 56 years of age. I can’t say that I was sorry to leave the APS. I was epically bored for the last five years of my employment; which can be summed up as “been there, done that, got no interest in anything else on offer”. As an economist I had done everything in my field that had interested me. I tried a few things outside of economics but each attempt was increasingly frustrating as none of them sparked any interest in me – although some did spark loathing. On top of that I had concluded some years earlier that practically all the economics theory I had learned after my first year of university was fanciful bollocks. Once I had reached that stage it was just a matter of time before my faith in the discipline totally collapsed with one well-placed kick at a weak point of the edifice. And that came with the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. It’s not that I lost all faith in the field, just my faith that the “learned experts” knew what they were doing. I should have actually seen it back in 1998 when the International Monetary Fund prescribed disastrous remedies for the Asian countries which were in financial turmoil.
But I digress.
I was looking to get out and the fates began turning their benign gaze upon me. The APS had begun selectively giving out “redundancy packages” (such a sensitive descriptor but they could call it whatever. I didn’t care. Just so long as I got the money that went with the “redundancy package”.) So I started doing some calculations to see whether I could manage a comfortable retirement with my expected redundancy package and APS pension. After concluding that the figures did indeed calculate favourably, at an opportune moment I idly mentioned to my boss how an individual in my position would grab a redundancy package with both hands. He took the bait. I was offered the package. And I stepped away from employment.
Stepping away from employment meant stepping towards something else, even if I didn’t know what that was. In my more darker moments, thoughts of my pending retirement felt like I was about to walk off the edge of a pier into deep, dark cold water. And when I actually did retire and hit the water – to extend the metaphor – I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper until I started wondering when, or if, buoyancy would take over and lift me back up to the surface. So I did what most people would do in that situation – I panicked. After a few days of preparing dinner and running errands as a househusband I signed up with a recruitment agency just in case this retirement thing didn’t pan out as well as I hoped it would. My skills must have been in some sort of demand because I got a call from the recruitment agency within a day regarding a job that would suit someone with my experience. Within a few weeks I started a year’s contract work in another government job.
Thus my first attempt at retirement ended in abject failure with me back into the working life I was trying to leave behind. It’s not that retirement didn’t work for me, it was that I didn’t give it a chance to work. But the contract did give me a year in which to think about what went wrong and how I can make a better fist of retirement next time.
The first, and most obvious, thing was that I needed a detailed plan BEFORE I retired that I could implement from the first morning of my re-retirement. I needed to avoid the situation where I finished work one evening and then woke up to unemployment (even if it was voluntary) the next morning with an attendant panic of finding something useful to do. And what better way to begin re-retirement than by indulging in my favourite passion – travel.
So Job No. 1 on my planning list was to start packing for a six week trip across central Europe on the first morning of re-retirement. Job No. 2 was to leave for Europe the day after that.
Job No. 3 would wait until I got back home but it was to have a prepared list of extensive DIY projects ready to be acted upon. While execution of Job No. 3 had to wait, it did require thoughtful planning months in advance as I added projects to the list as they casually came to mind.
This blog is part of Job No. 3, which should be of no great surprise. However, since it took me some 6 months to get around to starting up this blog because of all the other “stuff” on my list, I consider Job No. 3 to have been very successful so far. (And it isn’t finished yet as I continue to add more stuff to my DIY list while completed projects are struck off.)
So then here I am, starting this blog as another avenue for keeping me out of the workforce and busy in retirement. Now that I have started the blog I hope to make it an integral part of my non-working routine. It will be a fairly catholic document: part autobiography, part musings, part current affairs commentary, etc. Basically anything that takes my fancy enough that I can make a blog out of it. Hopefully, the occasional entry will strike your interest.
To begin the blog, I will start with several posts from my European sojourn while it is still fresh in my memory. Coming soon!
The Retiring Blogger