Thought Leadership

OFF-TOPIC: The countdown to Phase 3

By Colin Walls

It was about 18 months ago that we decided on a schedule for retiring or, as I prefer to think of it, entering Phase 3 of our lives. The thinking was simple: this would give me over a year to continue to visit the places that I tend to go to from time to time and see many of the great people that I work with, perhaps for one last time. There is a song lyric that goes: “If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans.” Of course, things did not go to plan. There are places that I will never visit again and people with whom I will never again cross paths. I appreciate that, when I complain about my plans being ruined, that so many people have suffered in much more profound ways over the last year.

I have an app on my iPhone that keeps me informed of the schedule:

I have plenty to keep me busy in my working life until 31 March, but it is the time thereafter that I need to plan for …

The first thing that we needed to think about when determining a time to retire was whether we could afford it. We need money to live and asking one’s employer to stop the paychecks is quite a drastic thing to do. We will not get state pension for another 2 years. However, we looked at the pension provision that I had made and the savings we had and considered our outgoings and believe that we will not be visiting the Food Bank in the near future.

Thought was then needed about the process of entering retirement. Tendering my resignation was the first step and that was straightforward. The only thing that I needed to decide was how many of my leave days I would take and how many could be compensated for in money. I have a company cellphone, so I will need to put in place my own cellphone plan, but that seems quite straightforward and I should be OK to keep my number. The only non-salary “benefit” that I receive is private healthcare cover. Will we want that when we retire? Can we afford it? We do not know the answers to this, but I am aware that we can get a plan from the company’s providers without all the normal sign-on formalities. I have to return some company equipment, but that is only a laptop and a smart access card; a courier will collect those.

Then there is the question of the future. I have many interests and thought that I would draw up a chart of all the things that might be on my agenda going forward. The chart looks like this:

The details do not matter; the fact that it is so well populated is the main thing. Many people have asked if I have lots of travel plans. I have some, but that will not dominate my life. I have traveled a lot already – maybe I do not need too much more! Will I do more photography? Certainly, and I have a number of photographic projects in mind. My primary goal is to “take back control” [I sound like a Brexit supporter!] of my time. I plan to be busy, when I want to be busy, devoting my time to things that I want to do. If that includes watching Star Trek TNG on Netflix in the afternoon, then that is fine!

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at