I have been away for work for over four weeks, using up the balance of my leave in advance of reaching my early retirement day. 31 December will be the last of those days. As of the 1 January, I am officially no longer on the payroll. I’m unemployed for the first time since June 1986.
It’s now starting to feel real. The run up to Christmas kept me busy just doing ‘stuff’, but there will be few such distractions to occupy myself. Up to me, then, to look for something to do. I’ve written before about the difference between work and employment, and feel I still need to work. What work I will find is up for grabs.
I’ve completed an intermediate Tour Guiding course, involving a lot of researching, which I loved doing. To be honest, I became slightly obsessed (as Eileen will testify) with finding out how my home town of Carrickfergus played a role during the Second World War. If nothing else, I proved to myself that you can teach old dogs new tricks.
As a spin off from that course, I have been asked to deliver a seminar to a local group on my new ‘specialist’ subject. This has enabled me to put some of the skills I used in my previous jobs to good use. Give me a topic, a laptop and PowerPoint and I’m good to go!
I have been approached by a few friends and acquaintances to take them on a walking tour through the town. I’m assuming this is due to a genuine interest in what I have researched rather than a sympathy vote. This may, or may not, lead to me developing this into something more substantial. Is there really enough demand to turn this into a seasonal business? Who knows, but it’s fun to dream.
In hindsight, I think the safety and security of being in a good job for so long made me too comfortable. I spent so much time and effort working that I forgot to look beyond that. I loved my job and the people I worked with, but I didn’t take time for myself. I defined myself through my job.
Without that label, I now need to find a new reference point, in case I ever enter a TV quiz show. They always ask you to introduce yourself with three bits of information: who are you, where are you from and what do you do? If I’m ever in front of Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, I don’t want “what I do” to be the pointless answer.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but 2019 will be the year I create a new definition of me. Just as my town adapted during WW2, I need to do the same. There are plenty of opportunities out there. A matter, now, of finding or creating them. That, in itself, may require a lot of work.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas A. Edison