Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Sometimes I think that my life has just been a preparation for the retirement which I'm currently enjoying. I looked forward to it and started to plan for it early. The amazing thing is that its even better than I hoped it would be and life isn't usually like that.

I know there are many people, my dear wife amongst them, who do not look forward to their retirement. Such people enjoy their working lives and see retirement as an end rather than as a beginning. I completely understand that. What I hope to do here, is to show what makes my retirement such a pleasure in the hope that it might enable others to approach it with less trepidation. The rules are in order of importance. I recommend a jackdaw approach.....just pick out the bits which you like the sound of!

One caveat...there may be times when despite my best efforts, I sound like some sort of saint. Those who know me would fall about laughing at such a notion.

Rule 1: Sort out your health
Sounds pretty obvious doesn't it? You're no use to yourself or others if you're unfit so sort it. Need to lose some weight? There are no excuses now - just do it. (I shed about 15 pounds). Then keep fit by whatever method takes your fancy. In my case I do tennis on Mondays, Pilates on Wednesdays and table-tennis on Fridays plus a bit of walking.

Rule 2: Sort out your relationship
If you are lucky enough to have a significant other, plan your retirement activities around time which is ring-fenced for them. Obviously, if they can join you in the activities that's a bonus but if they fancy a day out and you can't do it because you need to attend a committee meeting at your bee-keeping club it is a recipe for disaster.

Rule 3: Sort out your soul
I was a teacher of kids with special needs during which time I developed skills which I have found I can still use. Firstly, I volunteer crew for a charity which runs two large canal boats and who offer free day trips for disabled groups - both kids and adults. I love boating (see below) so this is a great source of pleasure for me and has the bonus of helping disadvantaged members of society. Secondly, I am training as a 'befriender' at a local children's hospice. Early days but I am going to have fun doing this. Finally, I teach older people how to use their computers - something I'm good at.

Rule 4: Sort out your mind
Margaret Drabble, the author, said 'Jigsaws are very therapeutic...they cure - like a lot of games'. Jigsaws aren't my thing but crosswords are. The world is your oyster here - you are spoilt for choice. Read, keep up with the news (so that you have an opinion), do puzzles. Basically do anything which keeps your mind alert.

Rule 5: Sort out your social life
Keeping contact with people means you can talk, swap ideas, learn, teach and generally communicate. Communication is a life-line. There are plenty of ways to get involved with people by joining local interest groups, clubs etc. In these Internet days you don't even have to leave your house! I play bridge regularly and also belong to a darts league.
In my career I developed management skills and now I put them to good use by running a boating group. There is a pool of 30 or so and I organise boat hire and get a crew of 10 or so together every couple of months. Everyone has fun and its a great way to socialise.

Rule 6: Sort out your interests
I'm talking about hobbies here. In my view, the point about hobbies is that you should be able to pick them up and put them down at will. This way, they are useful as time-fillers whenever you have a spare moment. So they keep boredom at bay. In my case apart from the things already mentioned, I collect stamps (I keep them on a shelf by my anorak).
I have also developed a great interest in Ancestry. Whilst it is fun to trace your roots way back in time, I've found it even better to trace living cousins who I didn't know existed. I have met some of them. I must say that they are all doing a great job of making out that they were pleased to have been discovered! I have put some of them in touch with each other which is very satisfying and I am planning a big gathering for the 100+ relatives I've found which will take place next year (2010).

Rule 7: Sort out your creativity
'But I'm not creative' I hear you say. Rubbish. Do you cook? Create your own recipes and write them up as a personal cookbook. Create a lovely garden. Knit. Paint or draw. Make up photo albums with captions to leave behind you when you fall off the perch. In my case, I'm a frustrated writer. Inspired by Samuel Pepys, I keep a journal. I am also a keen letter writer - and I write long, boring blogs...........


  1. These are really excellent have you thought about offering a course at your local college for pre-retirees? (I am being serious)

  2. Love the Blog again, Tony. My hubby is 73 and not retired yet, but wanting to. We own our own business, so it is a bit harder to retire than if we worked for someone else. Thanks for the tips, and by the way I love your sense of humor. jayne52

  3. Great advice, Tony! Now that I am armed with the handbook, I look forward to the day.....

  4. I'm going to print this out and send (anonymously) to my Dad. LOL He's 84 and will die working and thinks everyone else should do the same.

    Seriously, I intend to share this with several people I know. So eloquently stated, yet simple in nature. We all should heed these lessons whether retired or just dreaming of the day to come.

  5. wonderful post, Tony! I stumbled it...I think it will be very helpful for those facing retirement. But also those who aren't..the suggestions you gave were just good, solid life-enhancing tips!

    Well done!


  6. Great blog but you missed out on a very important pearl. Plan for your retirement before you get there.

  7. I left a little something for you at my site. I hope you like it.

  8. I was a little concerned about checking out your blog since you communicate with SMB,Midlife,and the Crone. LOL. Age wise you have me by about a year and as far as retirement,I think I started planning for it when I was 16yrs old. Work is sometimes over rated (I feel). Retirement is truly a beginning..

  9. Alison ex colleague28 June 2009 at 19:23

    These are definitely pearls of wisdom and I will be taking all of them into account during the next few months ( 23 to be exact) before I too take the plunge and retire.

  10. Forwarding this post to a loved one...