Being let loose and left to your own devices by a former employer is an odd experience. Mrs RPS believes that I need some structure in this hiatus. So, in order to prevent me brooding, she has developed a little list of all the things I promised to do but failed to get done. It’s payback after years of being ‘too busy’.
Today is only day 2 of my assault on the task list yet I feel I am making good progress. Pictures are being re-hung, corners cleared out and I have even stuck my head in to the garage. (Obviously I didn’t do anything other than stick my head in – I feel the need to work up to that task.)
We have decided to do a bit of a de-cluttering exercise. Like most middle-aged folks we have acquired all sorts of stuff in our voyage through life accreted like barnacles and weed to our ship. Thinking about selling up after the news of my redundancy concentrated our minds. All this stuff!
Tonight we have ruthlessly pruned our wardrobes. The charity clothes bin at the edge of the village will have a bumper day tomorrow. But it’s all strangely liberating. Giving stuff up is, I suppose, the ultimate way of confirming that you own your possessions, not the other way round. Giving up my hopelessly too small Cuillins FM – the sunday morning chat show is terrific – tee-shirt is not such a big deal though.
A shock as big as redundancy prompts you to do some rather deeper and harder thinking about what is important. I was lucky to find a series of roles in a single organisation that fitted me so well for so long. I doubt whether the rest of my working life will be like that. I am certain that my children’s won’t be.
A financial adviser asked me recently when I thought I would be retiring. He was nonplussed by the chuckling brought on by the question. We had already given this some thought and concluded that we would be lucky indeed to retire this side of 70. I suspect we’re not unusual. A combination of university fees, house deposits and other currently unforeseeable needs of our children would be daunting enough. But then, of course, there’s our own retirement to save up for and fund.
So it makes sense to start planning now for a future that requires fewer resources to run it. One of my previous responsibilities was the ‘greening’ of our business. Or, as some organisations would claim, ‘tree-hugging nonsense’. It was actually about being more efficient (and less costly) and more sustainable. What’s not to like?
One of the early pieces of information I happened upon that I used to focus minds was something that still shocks me. It was an analysis of the footprint of our quality of life here in the UK. The WWF Report (PDF) back in 2007 found that even our poorest cities needed more than one planet to support their quality of life. Given we only have the one planet – when last I looked – this seemed to me to be IMPORTANT.
So tonight I like to think we at RPS Towers were beginning to shrink our footprint … perhaps redundancy does have some upsides.