Music on vinyl(Too much time on my hands).

Another random subject on my blog, but its all part of enjoying retirement, sharing how I fill my time and find pleasure in simple things.

I like to think of myself as relatively up to date with technology, (I cannot describe myself as an early adopter) with the ability to stream music throughout our home, utilising various smart Bose/Amazon speakers, access to digital radio stations, Apple and Amazon music. However, I have rediscovered the joy of vinyl as another way to listen and enjoy music.

Over recent years we have in the pursuit of simplicity disposed of CD’s. There was no need to store those discs with easy to break cases or have to search out the particular track, change CD’s as the music finished, when all the music we could ever want was available with a quick shout out to Alexa. However, up in our attic through the years our record collection (Vinyl is a relatively new term in my mind) had survived numerous house relocations and simplicity drives. In fact, I can’t remember us ever even discussing disposing of it! The record player went in the early 90’s but the records just stayed in their moving boxes from house move to house.

I suppose records went out of fashion in the late 80’s, I know we spent years building up a huge collection of CD’s, often duplicates of albums that we had already had. Whilst we liked the sound of CD’s, they were never as tactile as an album; the plastic case was hard, where the Vinyl LP case was cardboard, CD’s cases small while record cases were big with room for fantastic imagery and just felt special. I don’t think CD’s were ever loved in the way records were, I’m sure people of a certain age will always remember the first vinyl record they purchased, who will remember their first streamed track or even CD? 

Over the last couple of years, we started to play our vinyl, we purchased a TEAC Bluetooth record deck (Record deck is what we use to call a record player). I know music experts say Bluetooth does not give a true sound, I agree, but on a pracitical level we dont have the type of house which allows for wires to run to speakers etc. For me the pleasure in playing records, is hearing complete albums, reading the album cover and reminiscing over when we bought the record. We’ve had some great evening prior to COVID lockdown with friends, looking through the records and arguing about what was the best, worst, favourite albums of all time. My point being playing vinyl has become another interest which i now have time to invest in.

As I’m sat here reading and writing this evening with the rain coming down outside, I have listened to Ennio Morricone “Theme lounge” & Jamiroquai “Travelling Without Moving” (2 recent purchases). Definitely not the best albums in my collection, but both are worth the time invested. Discussing what I’m listening to with friends and now strangers in this post is just fantastic, it’s so uplifting listening to something newly discovered, as is hearing an old 80s favourite. In no way am I musical. In fact, I’m tone deaf and according to the family my taste in music is sh*t (I like to think its eclectic, thought provoking and mood enhancing), they may or may not be right, You can agree or disagree, I don’t really care!

Part of the appeal is shopping for vinyl. As it came back into fashion, we are seeing the growth of little independent record shops, with sound booths etc. staffed by people who care. I know it’s all available online, but it’s become a weekly treat; visit a record shop, have a rummage in the bargain section, chat to the salesperson as they carefully package up my purchase. Back to proper shopping like we did when we were growing up on our high street.

If you are reading this and of a certain age and have records not looked at or played in ages, take an evening to get back in touch with your musical soul. I can’t promise it will sort out the problems of the world, but I can assure its great fun. and will make you feel better. Be aware, it’s addictive when you start and some of the old vinyl with the odd scratch does not sound as good as your streamed music.

I’ve now set myself a task to have an edited collection of 20 albums that will make the hair on the back of anyone’s neck stand on end because of their brilliance or mood defining sound.This collection will either come from the 100+ records i already own or from bargain bin purchases over the coming years.

Please feel free to let me have your suggestions and why you think your choices are so brilliant.

If you have taken the time to read this post many thanks, please leave a comment I have set myself a rule to follow anyone who takes the time to comment on my blog for at least 1 month, longer If I enjoy the posts.

Paddling Yoga

It’s been a busy week. That statement is of course relative to my own retirement measurement of busy!

What with taking one daughter off to university, celebrating birthdays for our other daughter and also our son’s girlfriend, it’s been a bit hectic. In addition, I had to attend (virtually of course) important meetings for the school, did some gardening, sorted out the patio furniture and cleaned down the conservatory ready for the onset of Autumn. The time has flown but I have had the opportunity to discover what I believe to be a new concept in yoga!

When walking the other day along the beach at Bournemouth on a sunny morning, I just had to have a paddle.

Definition of paddle (wade US) to walk with noshoes or socks on through water that is not very deep, often at the edge of a beach, etc.:

You may ask what the point is. Well that is the point! There is no point! It’s just something to do, it’s not an efficient way to walk when on a wide sandy beach. Here is the but; Paddling in the sea is one of those things that just makes you feel better, a chance to reflect, take deep breaths and slow your pace of life for a few moments.

Below I’m trying to describe the sensations and why it’s so good and promote my new free concept, “paddling yoga”.

The moment you let the sea wash over your toes, the cold sea water sends a shock right up through your body an immediate feeling of refreshment. Then the slight shiver as your nerves respond and you feel awake. As the water temporarily recedes, the slight rise in temperature enables you to catch your breath and clear your mind, ready for the next draft of cold water.

After a few moments the body adapts to the changes in temperature and you are left with the joy of just walking in water, enjoying the feel of wet sand under your toes, a chance to reflect, breath in the sea air and hopefully feel positive. I recommend a 2-mile paddle to give the opportunity to really cleanse your feet and mind.

Anyway, I do suggest everyone has a go especially when you are tired, unhappy or a bit down! Later in the year, I may write a follow up of splashing through puddles if it’s raining.

Hope you enjoyed the randomness of this post and let me know how your next paddle goes.

Another milestone

As we were down in Devon this week we took the opportunity to drive passed our first house in Tiverton, it’s unbelievable but we purchased our first house and moved in together when Sarah was only eighteen and me just twenty two years old. It was a two bedroom terraced cottage opposite a factory on the side of a road with a small back yard. 1987 was the start of a housing price boom and we had bought just before it had started, in a little over one year the house doubled in value.

Driving around the once little town, brought back good memories, it was tough as a very young couple having to make our mortgage payment each month, learning to look after ourselves and each other as a couple. But we made it work and on reflection those struggles were the foundations for the family we have become. I’m sure it’s difficult for our children to understand that there was a time when we were their age and it was not always easy.

Anyway back to the main point of today’s blog and the reason we were down in Devon. This week has marked another milestone in our life as parents. We’ve know for weeks it was happening, more accurately we’ve known for a few years. Today was the day we took our youngest daughter off to start her university life, our little girl who was just over 8 years younger than our middle child has left and won’t be returning home until the Christmas break.

It’s funny that these moments come and go so quickly as life ebbs and flows. Birthdays, first words, first steps, the school performance etc.etc. Our little girl is now out in the wide world, having to take responsibility for her own well being and generally looking out for herself.

After dropping of Georgia at Exeter university, Sarah and I decided to go for a quite lunch in a country pub. As we sat outside in the sunshine we reminisced about Georgia’s childhood and how quickly it has passed. Lots of good memories, it’s funny when you take time to reflect you only see positives, the difficulties of dealing with a stroppy teenager pail into insignificance. We now hope that she is able to go on and fulfill her dreams and ambitions.

The point of milestones was to serve as markings beside a roadside to measure in miles the distances between different locations and to ensure you were on the right track. I suppose in life they serve a similar purpose and some times you only know you are progressing when you pass one such as today with Georgia and have the opportunity to reflect back on the journey which brought you to this point.

Pension Advice (Not really)

As I mentioned in an earlier post anyone thinking about early retirement should at the earliest opportunity get a qualified pension/ financial adviser to go through your options and help you plan for the big day. I would be looking to get this advice as early in your planning as possible so you have time while in employment to maximise your pension. Be aware there’s lot of conflicting advice and you need to be aware what the advisors are selling or have to gain from the advice they give. No such thing as a free lunch I was taught many years ago.

So selecting a Financial adviser is difficult, you need to be able to trust whoever with your future and know they understand you and your individual financial aspersions. We also wanted someone who would be strong enough to be honest and say no when perhaps we wanted to do something that was not in our financial interests.

In the U.K. we have the FCA who govern and regulate qualified financial advisors which is a good place to start when looking for someone, they advice of all qualified practioners. In my mind, not being ageist, I wanted someone who was younger rather than older, worked independantly and whilst professional was someone we could relate to. Having spent a couple of months researching I found our financial advisor locally and we have now worked together planning my retirement for over 5 years.

Going back to our first meeting, our advisor spent over 3 hours getting to grips with our financial details, (pensions, mortgage, investments, outstanding debts, income and taxation) lifestyle, retirement aspirations and generally getting to know us, our understanding of personal finance and our attitude to risk. When we came out, it certainly felt like we had been interviewed.

By the time of our second meeting she had been in touch with my pension providers and various other financial organisations we had investments with and had pulled together an in-depth report into our finances highlighting our options and choices for the future. She made it clear that from a financial point of view my best option was to remain in my company pension and continue working until at least the age of 60. As per our first meeting conversations she understood this was not what we wanted and thus she had laid out the compromises required to achieve our aim with the potential costs. In addition, she had made some recommendations about tax and further pension contributions which needed to be actioned regardless of our decisions. A win straight away which will save taxes in the future.

Armed with the above report, Sarah and I talked over our choices time and time again, on one hand longterm fiancial security with a pension paying out over 60% of the average of my last 5 years employment or we retire early with a good pension and own the risks for ourselves. In the end, like most of our decisions, we decided on a beach in Italy to go for it, we knew we had worked to retire early from our 20s, we also knew we had financial capital in our properties to survive even the worst financial melt down!

The key questions that we had to answer to make our decision were:

* What level of income was required to support the lifestyle we wanted going forward? As opposed to what did we want (always more) or what was needed to continue our current lifestyle (as explained previously, retirement to us was the start of a new life-stage and thus this point is less important).

* Would our income be secure if one or both of us lived to 100 (a consideration when you look at ever rising life expectancy) ? We both needed to be comfortable that if one of us passed away, the other would still be ok financially.

* Would we be comfortable that if it went wrong and we had to live on just our state pension we could make it work? This has perhaps helped in our planning, we have resolved to do the things we really want to do ASAP so that we ensure we have memories regardless of our future income.

Once these questions had been answered, the decision was simple. In summary, we withdrew from my old company pension, taking over responsibility for investing the pension pot (I will describe this in a later blog, but I can tell you using experts is again key to success). With a plan to take a pension from my 55th birthday, whats difference is that instead of having a flat pension rising every year in line with inflation, I’m going to take my pension as I need it, a little bit more now while I’m young enough to enjoy it, reducing it when I’m older and less able to get about etc. Of course this has all been structured and planned to the nth degree by Rachel who has made sure the plan will look after us both until we are over 100.

The financial plan is only part of our overall retirement plan, its hugly important but should still only be part of the consideration, lifestyle, health and family circumstances are just as important and we need to make the right plans and decisions in these areas as well to successfully retire early.

I’m not a financial advisor and thus not qualified to provide advice, however anyone old enough to earn money should think about their future pension, my aim was always to have at least as many years retired as I had worked and thus had saved money in my pension as a priority.

As I said before, retiring early is not for everyone, I was lucky as a young man to have been advised by an old colleague to invest in my pension and to have a role model of someone who had retired early. Their advice and with the support of a good financial advisor has given us the freedom to decide.

I hope you find these rumblings to be of some use, please feel free to add comments or your thoughts on the subject.

September days

I always find September to be a strange month. I’m never sure whether I love or loath it. September’s weather in the UK is generally good but clearly not as warm and light as August, it marks the end of the holiday season and the start of the march into those dark winter months. Whilst the days are still long, everynight it gets darker earlier.

So what’s different now we have retired?

Firstly, its great to have the time to observe the season’s change, we’re not at the stage where leaves are changing colour, its more there is less growth of new buds. The lawn grass is if anything growing faster now than it has since earlier in June, my vegetable garden crops are now ripening in the last of the high sunshine. Often there is a need to change out of shorts in the evenings as it seems to get cooler as the sun sets.

Secondly, when working September was the month you returned from your summer holidays, so the early part of the month was catching up with everything that was missed while you were off (normally the rested feeling after my holidays only lasted the first few days back), with the second part of the month planning how to close the year. It was always a hectic month sometimes the busiest month of the year! Well thats all changed in retirement, September is already 11 days old and I suppose I’ve only just realised! Dont get me wrong, I’ve been busy carrying out my duties as a Museum Trustee and as Chair of the School Governors (these are interests, not paid work) and spending time catching up with friends who we had not seen since the start of COVID lockdown.

Thirdly, I feel chilled. As mentioned before, we have booked another getaway for the end of the month (COVID restrictions permitting), have arranged to have scuba lessons in October and today ordered a new outside dining set with fire pit to extend the use of our outdoor space into the winter. Lots of things to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead.

Fourthly, the weather is not such an issue now I’m not working, no need to plan doing the gardening or meeting friends at the weekend and being disappointed if it’s raining. We have the freedom to do what we want seven days a week, the garden is looking better than ever and I’m now not dreading going out to sort stuff out before winter arrives.

So all in all, I’m now starting to think I might like September as a month, another upside to retirement. Now I need to find positives for November & January which I very much dislike.

As I write this, I would like to pay homage to those innocent victims who lost their lives today, 11th September 2001, in New York. I realise how lucky we are, to be able to choose to retire and live our lives when so many lost that opportunity.

Adapting to Retirement

Yesterday we met up with some friends who are at a similar age to ourselves and have retired. As mentioned before we had planned to travel around the world this winter together and but it was postponed due to COVID. Our discussions as ever revisit the disappointment of not going, especially as it’s been planned for many years and whether perhaps with a bit of luck next year would be ok, if not let’s buy a couple of camper vans and tour Europe. The point being, plans change and whilst disappointed it’s not the end of the world.

This whole discussion and the positive vibes comes from theirs and our ability to be willing to adapt, change plans and look for a positive way forward in any situation. No point wishing it was how we planned it or wishing we could go back in time. As with playing cards you have to play the hand you are dealt the best you can to maximise your chances. This attitude is what makes humans succeed and of course goes back to Darwin, survival of the fittest and the ability of a species to adapt to their environment.

On reflection, going back to an earlier blog and the different retired people I have spoken with, it’s evident that the people happiest in retirement are the ones who have adapted to the new situation. They thrive on the time they now have, they look forward to being spontaneous and are not too proud to make fools of themselves, learning new skills/ making new friends. On the other side, you have those retirees who still get up the same time every day, eating meals as they did when they worked, who need a routine/ strict plan to follow, who get upset when it needs to change and are too nervous to be the new person or learn a new skill, failing to adapt to retirement and wishing they were still working.

Can we develop our ability to adapt? Like most skills, adaptability can be developed, it is often difficult, becomes harder the more reluctant we become to embracing change and there needs to be a willingness to see and listen to other people’s thoughts, ideas and opinions. Often, being more adaptable is about taking on an idea or thought that’s very different from anything we have thought or done previously. I would never suggest adaptability is becoming someone we are not, it’s more about the ability to make changes and think differently so we are happy in the given situation / environment. To summarise, developing our ability to adapt is about improving our ability and speed of change in light of a new reality or environment.

In my experience, change is always difficult regardless of the size of change being considered, it’s often the fear of getting it wrong, or seeing the potential negatives above any positives that stop us changing even when to others it’s blatantly obvious the change will make a positive difference to us. Change, even small changes, is emotional and often involves giving up, in the case of retirement, a routine or way of doing something we have been comfortable with for years e.g. changing the time we get up. I’m a firm believer in don’t change what isn’t broken, however something has significantly changed, Im not working, so surly I can try to do things differently for the next 40 years!!!

What is the answer I hear you saying.

* Firstly realise we have choices to make, don’t live in auto-pilot, take some time to think about choices and make decisions based on today, not yesterday. My example is we plan our meals around what we are doing and we get up when it feels right for that day.

* Look for opportunities to make small changes which may suit us better. Examples of mine is not to have the same breakfast 2 days running and not to shave each morning (sometimes I shave in the morning as I did when I worked, but now I often shave in the afternoon or not at all on odd days).

*Give things a go, don’t let fear stop us trying something different, don’t be afraid to be the new person at something or to be the one asking the dumb questions (remember when we were kids, often this is how we learnt, especially before we became self conscious as adults)

*Don’t be afraid to keep options open, often no need to make decisions not to do something before taking time to understand the potential positives. Often we say no to opportunities because fear of failure has stopped us even trying to understand the positives, with time we may see the upside.

*Don’t be afraid to change our mind, if you’re not a politician making U-Turns as new facts come to light is a positive (For whatever reason politicians see it as a weakness to change a policy even when it’s obvious that change is needed). Being fluid and getting it right must be better than arguing for something that you know is wrong just because it was your original opinion is completely bonkers.

So in summary, adaptability and a positive attitude to change is a must if we are to retire happily and fulfil our potential in this life stage. I hope this post help and provokes some thoughts. There is loads of great information on managing change, building personal adaptability skills on-line if anyone is struggling.

I apologise if this is a long post, however having had a couple of good days speaking with friends who have adapted to retirement and spoken to someone who is struggling, I felt this needed to be written.

Building Friendship Groups in Retirement

When we were young, making friends/new acquaintances was easy. We had no fears or prejudices. We made friends at school, with our neighbours, friends of friends, club and team members. As we grew older and understood the differences between friends and acquaintences, we started to be more selective. However, the opportunities were still easy with college, work and socialising helping to sustain the growth in friendship groups.

In my experience, as we grew older and the responsibilities of family and, for me, a senior position in a work place, it all becomes harder and on top of this we now have prejudice and fears to contend with. Our friendship groups become smaller but quality and strength of friendship may grow. However, we don’t have the time so we are not attracting the new friends as easily as we once did. As I mentioned in an earlier post, at the point of retirement I don’t think I have as many friends as I wish I did.

Due to neglect it’s easy to lose touch with good mates of the past. I’ve not seen or spoken to my best school friend for over 40 years or some of the guys who I worked with and had a great social life with when we all started out in our careers together.

Dont get me wrong; I do have some great friends but these friends are mainly our friends (couples we have met as a couple). In fact, even friends who were mine have become ours. I’m not complaining; these friends we have are brilliant, we’ve known them for years and always have a great time when we meet up, or know we will get help when we need it and we have trusted them with our children.

So the question I have been asking myself over recent weeks is where and how do I start if I want to grow my friendship group? I’m sure, like others reading this, now that retirement is here we all have had time to reflect and remember the buzz you got when you were following a new pursuit/adventure with a friend in those younger years.

Well guess what! There is nothing stopping you now except perhaps yourself.

After thinking about this for a while I have come up with my own personal objective’s

  • Gain at least 6 new physical aquaintances a year (need to meet at least 4 times a year, they have to have my mobile number and me theirs, email or social media contact details don’t count).
  • Get in contact, meet up with, invest time and energy with my old best mates from the past, if only to apologise for not keeping in touch and to find out how they are and what life has thrown them in these missing years.
  • Work harder at being a good friend to old and new aquaintances, one or more of them may be a good friend for me too.

The plan,

  • Try new things such as scuba diving, learning to sail and learning a langauge (new activities will help with meeting new people).
  • Say hello to strangers on the train/plane/bus, in the pub on the table next to me, in the coffee bar etc. (how often do we share the same space as someone without an acknowledgement? It may be an English thing!).
  • Be a Yes Man, (watch the Jim Carey film you never know what a Yes will lead to).
  • Utilise social media to get in touch with long lost friends.
  • Make sure my schedule has sufficent time given over to friends.

Just thinking about this blog has motivated me to do something different. I’ve already chatted to a couple I didn’t know in a pub (would you believe she was a neighbour we hadn’t met before, an Italian teacher, and has offered to help us learn Italian). I’ve also searched an old friend on Facebook, awaiting a response as I write.

In future blogs I will update on progress. Friendship seems to be a key success factor in helping people through each life stage, perhaps retirement is the time to bring all your friends together. I’m also going to delve into what friendship really means and is it different in retirement.

I would be really interested in anyone’s ideas or thoughts on how to grow friendship groups, so please comment and share things that have worked, especially in retirement.

Social media as a tool in retirement.

I’m sure for lots of people there is nothing new or particularly revolutionary in this post. It’s in the title; Ramblings of Retired Guy!!

When working I had lots of training on social media, especially in understanding the marketing value of each platform and how this, along with loyalty card information, gave our business a unique insight into customer needs and aspirations, often before the potential customer had realised for themselves. Due to this training, I stopped using Facebook, Twitter etc as I didn’t want other people to understand me better than I did myself.

It’s interesting that as politicians and organisations have started to understand the opportunities to target potential supporters that the social media platforms have continued to grow despite the adverse publicity! Also, as the amount of of fake news etc. has been highlighted, it’s often reported that the majority of social media followers have more faith in their newsfeed even above traditional news broadcasters.

Anyway, despite all the above, with time to burn in my retirement, I have rejoined Facebook to keep in touch with family and old work colleagues etc. I have been extra cautious with my privacy settings to ensure I avoid every product advert and block anyone or anything that I determine to be political. In fact, I have un-friended a family member because their posts were too negative and I thought reading it may effect my own mood and outlook on life.

What i’ve learnt from my adventures into social media

* Personally loved finding old friends, within 2 weeks I got to hear about a school reunion planned for next year (not living in the town where I grew up I would not have heard of this) and have managed to make contact with school friends not seen in 40 years. I also joined an alumni group of ex colleagues, some of whom I had not been in contact with for at least 15 years.

* I’m now in contact with cousins, nephew, nieces and one of my aunts, again only normally seen at important family gatherings. It’s great getting more of an insight into their interests and lives.

* I have managed to pick up a couple of good habits from bits I read, e.g. buying an extra coffee and ask the server to give it to a customer they feel needs cheering up (random act of kindness), I smile every time I do it and hope the person getting my free cup of coffee smiles too. Look out and take a photo of nature around us, flowers, animals, clouds or a sunset, a picture tells more than the words written on these sights.

* It can be addictive, it starts slowly but the ping of a notification soon gets me wanting to see what’s new, My wife is now suggesting I’m on my phone like a teenager!

In summary, I’m now thinking sensible use of social media, alongside real life interactions with people is beneficial to a retirement life style such as mine. It’s great to feel a connection with people across the world who I’ve known in real life previously, it’s a little like the catch up at the water cooler when working, although be aware on social media, friends are more like good colleagues and what you write and post is recorded forever. It’s also worth noting my earlier post on personal branding before posting random comments and getting into debates on social media.

Please feel free to comment, I’m especially interested in thoughts on my style of writing and whether the content has relevance to anyone else.

Summer draws to a close

We are on our way home As I write this, after a very short break in Italy. This year our return is different obviously we have COVID 19 to contend, however personally more importantly this year our youngest has completed her school life (she’s due to go to University in less than 2 weeks) and I have retired.

In previous year’s the journey home is the start of planning for returns to school/ work, discussions on plans for Christmas and even thoughts on next years holidays.

Our plans for this year had always been different, we had planned to come to Italy in May for 3 months, aiming to return to the U.K. mid August for exam result day before settling Georgia our youngest in University mid September followed by another 3 or 4 weeks in Italy through until mid October. We had then planned to start a trip around the world in November, hoping to be in Australia for Christmas, lunch on the beach Christmas Day with our travelling friends. Of course all changed with the onset of COVID-19.

On reflection we have been lucky to get away at all with all the various travel restrictions ever changing. Lots of our friends with work and family commitments have not had the luxury of the flexibility we now find ourselves with and thus not been able to plan journeys in the fear of having to isolate in return to the U.K. if restrictions had changed while they were away.

As we return to the U.K. I am contemplating another trip to Italy at the end of September for a 3 week stay, however all will be dependent on the COVID-19 spread rate currently in our area in Italy cases are less than 7 per 100,000 while in Dorset it’s currently under 5 per 100,000, both locations below the national averages and thus the so called dangerous point of over 20 cases per 100,000. My fears over COVID-19 is not for ourselves, I don’t want us to be carriers who spreads the virus to the older people in our family or to my neighbours and friends. Hence we always maintain social distancing, wear face masks, utilise hand sanitiser to mitigate risks on our travels.

Sorry a bit of a rant!!! Why is it so difficult for people like us to give up some short term liberties for the greater good of humanity? I struggle to understand the protests against wearing face coverings or the lack of political leadership to lead by example. FOLLOW the SCIENTIFIC mainstream advice. Only acting as one can humanity cut off the energy which allows this virus to flourish! I know some will say I’m hypocritical ranting about others while I’m deciding to fly! (I do understand the risks and haven taken every precaution to minimise the risk at every point). Whilst COVID is a major issue we must find ways to live with the ongoing threat, not let it define us.

Anyway, it’s been a great break, we are having Christmas at home with less friends and family, dropping off Georgia to University is planned and back to some mundane days for myself. The new retired norm.

Personal branding in retirement,

It’s a rainy day in Bellante Stazione Italy today which has given me a chance to read some other retirement blogs and has got me thinking about who I am and what my “brand“ means to the outside world.

It’s easy when you are working. When people first see you and look at your work attire, they ask what you do and then they make judgements about what that means in terms of educational background/wealth etc. I’m not saying the judgements are accurate but it is part of your brand to the outside world.

I actually stopped working formally 27 months before I could retire, having taken voluntary redundancy and had many debates as to whether I had retired or was unemployed. Clearly people have a view as to what either description means. I was lucky having had a good settlement from my employer, I did not need to claim any benefits from society and was determined not to look for formal work, knowing my finances would last until I could claim my pension.

Being unemployed has certain connotations, although I was the same person, with the same values, beliefs, the same outlook to life with a decent amount of disposable finance, my family and some friends started to treat me differently often asking how I was getting on without a job, worrying about how we would survive with my income missing etc. The outside world was seeing a different me just because my job title had changed and my brand had changed due to the fact I was no longer a senior manager for a large company.

Interesting to me is how perceptions have changed again in the last few weeks with retirement now becoming a reality. It’s clear perception of retirement is more positive than unemployment and I suppose in my sub conscience this has been an issue and perhaps explains my need to announce my formal retirement.

In a couple blogs I have read there has been mention of needing something to fill the void of leaving employment. When we were kids we never had a problem filling our time, so why as adults would it be difficult now? I wonder whether it’s more of a need to find who we really are that’s more important and to be able to describe it.

Retired is not who I am, it’s the life stage I’m at. I want my brand, what people see, to be the real me! Not the company man who also has a life outside of work.

So who am I?

A normal bloke, casually dressed, a bit over weight trying to be healthy who loves his wife and family, wants to travel, learning more about himself/the world, hoping to give something back to my local community and be a positive influence on the people around me.

Whilst the above has taken a bit of thinking about today, on reflection it’s who I am and thus it’s not too different from what you will have seen in my blog to date.

In summary what I am is Retired Guy. Who I am is Mario.

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