Looking to the future

Do you know those feelings before starting a new journey into the unknown?  There is a mixture of excitement and fear.  The excitement focusses on anticipation of the wonderful things you will see, the people you will meet and the experiences that you will have.  The fear focuses on whether you are competent enough, and how will you manage and what if you fall over?

I’m embarking on a new business venture and so am experiencing all of those thoughts and feelings.  The new venture is prompted by several things.  For a start, I am one of those people who is always coming up with new ideas.  When I was younger I just launched into them with the zest and enthusiasm of someone who was really green and didn’t know it.  I had some failures but some successes too and it taught me a lot.  I really wish that I’d had some mentors during those years of exploration and enthusiasm, but that’s another topic.

Secondly, I can see that there is no security of tenure with my current employer and redundancy is likely to come my way by the end of the financial year.  This coincides with my increasing dissatisfaction at a role that is increasingly dumbed down and diminished in content and engagement.  It is  not surprising therefore that my frustration at working in a non-supportive environment has lead to my thoughts of self-employment again.  I also recognise that this is a poor employment market for people past a certain age and if I don’t want to find myself in the clutches of Centrelink, I will need to be resourceful and to develop alternatives that are financially viable.

The third reason is that I can see a new challenge in the future and it excites me.  That doesn’t mean that I am not apprehensive about what I am proposing but the prospect of taking back control over my working life is a greater incentive than the fear is a detraction.  Right now I am in the research phase and working on my business plan and just doing this preliminary work fuels the anticipation.

Although I am not in a position to disclose full details right now, I am keen to develop relationships with other service providers, and specifically those who are not totally embedded in the youth culture.  I would not expect for instance that the copy on my webpage would contain words such as ‘totally awesome’ as my target audience will mostly come from Gen X and Baby Boomer age groups.  I will look for a copy writer who can engage with and not alienate that age group.  Likewise a brand manager, graphic designer and photographer.

Finding a mentor of course would be fantastic but jut as useful will be developing a network of people who are at a similar stage in life and perhaps starting new ventures of their own.  If that sounds like you, give me a shout.Anticipation

 

 

 

Ripples on my Pond

This has been a long time coming but the stars are aligned for a change in my life;  changes in work patterns, changes in work place and changes in where and how I live.  None of this will happen overnight, but I am putting in place the processes that I need to take in order to effect these changes.

So what has precipitated it all now?  A cluster of things, not necessarily huge individually but when considered in total add up to the fact that I should stop whinging and moaning to myself about issues I don’t like and take action.

I’ll just give a brief summary of some of the catalysts:

  • Physical.  My weight is increasing alarmingly, my body is stiffening and my hair is falling out.  This last factor is particularly distressing as new hair is not growing.  I am developing female pattern baldness.  I consulted a dermatologist yesterday about treatment options and one of the first questions that he asked was ‘Has there been much stress in your life lately?’  Sure has.  A combination of stress and genetics is prompting my more visible sections of scalp.  It is unlikely that I will stimulate more hair growth but hopefully I can stop it falling out.  I have been warned that it will get worse before it starts to get better.  I want more time to exercise and to de-stress.

 

  • My job is on a path to nowhere.  It pays well for what I do, but I feel sidelined and marginalised and have reached a point where my self-belief is being eroded.  I work for a micro-manager and that is very stressful.  The senior person in my section withholds information and meaningful work.  A couple of times in recent months, I have been told that I am a ‘good girl’ on completing a task.  I am the oldest person in the team and at approaching 60 am no longer a girl.  As a survival tactic, I withdraw to a degree at work and don’t ‘engage’.  I know that this is to my detriment in my manager’s assessment of my abilities.  Having held quite senior roles and responsibilities before however, being fed menial tasks only (or those that are incredibly problematic ) is very demoralising. I don’t want to work in this environment any more.

 

  • I recently applied for a newly created role.    At the company’s insistence, I had my interview the morning after returning from an overseas flight and so was very jet-lagged but even so felt that I had acquitted myself well.  I have not been advised of the outcome, but am reasonably sure that a young man has been given the job instead.  I have an appointment for an interview de-brief next week.  Applying for this role, one for which I feel that I am very suited, was one way of taking a lateral step out of my current situation, even though it was still working with the same team.  If I am right in my belief that I have not been successful, then it will be a strong message to me that there is a limited future for me within the company, except in my current tightly controlled and frustrating position.  Time to open my parachute and make the jump.

 

  • Last year I explored the opportunities for a more flexible working environment, such as a nine-day fortnight.  I was quite prepared to work longer on those nine days to make up the time, but this was not acceptable to my manager and in fact he sees this discussion as an indication that my focus is not totally on the company.  The company pays lip-service to the concept of a flexible workplace but as I have seen, some can take advantage of this and some can’t.  I want more work-life balance.

 

  • I feel that my creative and entrepreneurial spirit is being stifled.  This is not fun, and I have a reasonable belief that there is more to life than this.  I can’t sit at that pokey little desk much longer.  Most of the time I am dreaming of what I would rather be doing.  I want to put the drive and enthusiasm back into my day.

 

  • My father is in his late nineties.  His health is deteriorating and I would like to spend more time with him.  Time with my Dad is short.

 

  • My house is quite large.  I love the amenity that I created when I built it but I am a slave to the house and garden.  A large gum tree in an adjoining back yard is sucking all moisture out of the soil and is causing significant movement in one corner of the house that will have ongoing ramifications, especially for my hip pocket.  I am continually having to clean gutters and sweep up leaves and bark around the entire house.  I can’t cope with all the maintenance issues on my own, either from a time or financial perspective.  (‘What?’  I hear you say.  ‘Doesn’t’ young Donald help?’  SNORTI want my time back for me.

 

Probably my recent trip to Norway chasing the Northern Lights stirred things up but they didn’t really need much stirring.  There was an appropriate quotation that I read yesterday:

At any given moment you have the power to say that this is not how the story is going to end.

Working in a dead end job for turkeys, being miserable and being a slave to a pile of bricks and mortar is not how this story is going to end.  I am going to sell the house before the structural issues become critical.  I will rent while I look around for another property, probably a development site.  I will take my time but will design a house that suits my needs into the future.  It will be functional and sustainable but will also have spiritual corners.  The lessons that I learnt from building this house will be applied to the next house.  It will be an exciting exercise.

I have some things to do first though.  I am building a front fence and have a development application before Council at the moment.  Once that is completed, I will work on the front garden and landscaping and get that into shape.  There will also be some repainting, oiling the deck and timbers and a few things like that.  Not sure if I will sell via auction or via private treaty but will probably sell it myself.  I have sold my previous properties myself.

The other issue to address is that of gainful employment, and this one is trickier.  I would like to generate a comparable income, but more flexibly and possibly through self-employment or through doing contract work.

The role that I applied for was as Community Engagement Manager and I could pursue work in this area, either as a contractor or for another organisation.  It is work that I have been doing without the title.

There are a host of other ideas that are percolating, ranging from being a private investigator, freelance writer, increasing my celebrancy activities and pursuing an option as a training provider.  Or a combination of various options.   Many years ago, I supplied and built modular housing under contract and I loved this job.  Perhaps I can do that again.  Whatever I do, it will be something with self-respect.

I will leave at a time of my choosing, and will use the interval to undertake research and test the options.  I shall chart this journey as it happens.

Draw to the Coast

Do you ever dream of a sea change? I do … frequently. Apparently the term sea change is uniquely Australian. This is one of the things that I learnt in a seminar yesterday.

The Australian population is one of the most mobile in the western world, and we move commonly at times of life’s transitions. A female born at the beginning of this century has a live expectancy of 79 years. The closer she gets to that age however, the more her expectancy extends as by that time she has passed some of the earlier hurdles that could potentially cut her off at the pass, such as childhood or child birth. By the time this female reaches retirement age of 65 therefore, she still has 1/3 of her life to live. Makes you think about financial provision for the third age, doesn’t it? We have to provide for ourselves for such a long time for those who travel life as a solo venture, it’s even more important and just a little bit harder.

The time of retirement is one of those mobility triggers, as retirement is not necessarily spent in the same place as when one was in the work force. That means leaving a place of known community and probably established support. The choice of new location therefore is important as it needs to be somewhere that also offers support and the sort of links that might be required. Some people might think of moving to where the kids are, but given the mobility that I mentioned earlier, there is no guarantee that the kids will stay put. Following them can be a bad bet and not terribly practical. A sea change can seem attractive when making these sorts of decisions.

It’s not all about retirement of course. Some people make the move to the coast at other times of life. They may live at the coast, but work elsewhere. There are those who work FIFO (fly in fly out) or DIDO (drive in drive out) and those who telecommute. Some even manage to get employment in the new location. The smaller size of the coastal communities is attractive – also age-friendly communities. It’s not uncommon for some people, in or around the 40s, to buy a second home on the coast. It is either used as an investment or as a holiday home in the short term, but long term there is the intention to use it as a retirement home.

Demographers predict that Australia has another fifty years of being skewed towards an ageing population. It is further anticipated that the draw to the coast will be significant over this period. It wont be an end-of-life movement but part of a cycle of migration. There may then be a return to the city in later years when greater support is required, particularly of a medical nature.

Older people today enter retirement with significant lifestyle aspirations. Even though they may percolate towards the coast, good transport options between there and the city are important. Also other community facilities such as the medical support previously mentioned, sporting, gyms, entertainment (coffee!!!) educational facilities, and libraries etc.

Coastal markets are lifestyle markets. As such they have always been popular through currently they are going through a weak spot. This follows the softening of real estate prices in most states. Inland prices tend to be a bit cheaper and so some people opt for the tree change instead and regional centres are currently undergoing a resurgence.

I love the Adelaide Hills, but the draw for me has always been towards the ocean. I have long dreamed of a dual existence – a city-based apartment and the home down on the coast to which I could retreat. I think of a smaller community and the bracing walks or paddling in the shallows. Coffee whilst the waves crash on the shore just metres away from the beach-front Kaf. Working on my writing, calmed by the ebb and flow that takes place outside my window. Some dream.

This weekend I am staying in a coastal village located about 1 hour 40 minutes south of Adelaide. It has a beautiful bay although the wind can bracing as it sweeps up from the South Pole. This is just rental accommodation – the YHA in fact. This hostel is having a half-price Spring sale. Perfect for me as I booked quickly enough to secure the Suite, which is a cut above the usual hostel accommodation.

I’m going to chill, to drink some coffee, to go for a walk along the beach and I’ll explore the local galleries and shops. I could even catch a movie this evening in an adjacent town that is large enough to sport a cinema. Depends what is showing. I’ve just had a quick peak at the website and might do the late afternoon session of Red Dog.

I’m also going to look at a local subdivision. I have visited this place before and was intrigued enough to monitor progress with interest and get regular email updates. It is not waterfront, but is set back from the beach by 200 metres or so. A tunnel takes a walking/cycling path under an adjacent main road and leads to the beach. The family who have subdivided their agricultural land have a dream of developing a precinct that has wetlands, a restoration of the local ecology, and with all dwellings built on strictly monitored environmentally sustainable principles. They have progressed well so far. Houses look out onto lagoons which have attracted local birds, amphibians, and yabbies. Flinders University is monitoring the progress. The houses all look interesting and it has a strong community feel.

There’s no way I can afford this but it ticks a lot of boxes for me. After all I am now in late 50s and relate well to the lifestyle transitional issues that the demographers are talking about. I also want more space in which to breathe. There’s no harm in just having another look, is there? If I could just somehow manage to buy the land in the first instance and build up some equity for a while before building … Perhaps a lateral solution will present itself. We’ll see.

Another comment about change was made in my seminar. Actually it was a quote by Charles Darwin.
“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives or the most intelligent, but those who are the most responsive to change.” Makes you think.