Saturday, December 18, 2010


I’ve often wondered if reading my horoscope at the end of the day/month/year would reveal that things actually happened as predicted.  I normally read it at the beginning, then hope (or not) that the horoscope is accurate.

Well, with this curiosity in hand, last December 31, 2009, I copied my horoscope for the upcoming year, planning to assess whether it was remotely accurate.

My horoscope (from Calgary Herald I believe) was:

VIRGO You are still feeling the after-effects of the past 12 months and although January's solar eclipse will herald a respite, you may have to wait until late June for definite signs of progress. Because expansive Jupiter and restrictive Saturn are both focusing on your finances for much of the year, you will need to find a balancing point between parsimony and profligacy. With a friend or loved one relying on you for practical, emotional or moral support, your resources will be sorely stretched, especially around the time of April's Saturn-Uranus opposition. The year will end on a higher note than it began but just how high depends on you.

So…. my skepticism aside, this was vague enough for it to predict some well-timed activities with accuracy:
  •           In late June, the ‘respite’ came in the form of a month-long vacation on Salt Spring Island. So I suppose that was a bit accurate (keeping in mind that it was planned, not accidental).
  •          Of course finances were a focus since I was facing the end of my 25-year employment relationship
  •          The year is ending on quite a ‘high note’ as we (family) are travelling to Malaysia over the Christmas and New Year (again this is planned).

All in all, I’d say that the horoscope provided some highlights with a degree of accuracy. 

I’m looking forward to 2011’s horoscope with a new enthusiasm…  Hmmm, here’s guessing that there will be lots of travel mentioned!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Financial Planning is Kinda Important

So now that reality is setting in, so is the nitty gritty reality of my financial plan.

As part of the severance I got from my ex-employer, there is an offer of services of a Financial Planner.  This is rather normal.  I’ve decided to use these services to the maximum so that 1) I can objectively decide how best to invest these new found funds; 2) I have a plan of which source of income to draw from in which order so as to minimize tax burdens, and 3) I know I’ll be able to eat when I’m 80 years old (ie. Won’t be a bag lady). 

The Financial Plan will include such variables as:  current investments, projected living expenses, estimated inflation rate, estimated rate of return on investment.  As well, we need to include:  vehicle replacements, home upgrades, vacation assumptions, donation assumptions, and anything else that will impact the sources of income and expenses.   Of course, there is always the possibility that I’ll end up working again.. (Say it isn’t so!!!!!!)

We all know this planning thing is the right thing to do…but have we ever really gotten into the details?  I know I started the process a few times, but never really had the concrete plan in my hands.  There were always some things on the periphery that couldn’t be or weren’t included.

There’s great peace of mind that comes when going through this process.  I highly recommend it for everyone, regardless of your financial or employment status.

It’s kinda like knowing that you need to get somewhere you’ve never been before, but you’re too lazy or rushed to stop to buy a map.  You can take a few side roads and detours, hoping like heck you don’t run out of gas.  Had you had a map, you could have gotten there more efficiently, and not had the stress of the unknowns along the way.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Switching to Which Gear?

As you might recall, the purpose of this blog and of my entire self-professed unemployed state was to take a deep breath and ‘smell some roses’. 

Well, I seem to have forgotten how to “stick shift” because I haven’t quite successfully shifted down as much as I’d like.  If there is such a thing as ‘midway gears’, I’ve gone from fifth gear to four and a half.  The goal is to be in first or second gear.

I’m told that such a major transition (from working in high gear to unemployment) takes several months - some say nine months, others say twelve to twenty four.  Regardless, it’s much harder than you think.

I’m slowly unwinding some commitments that I made early in my ‘unemployed-ness’; in particular, those that involved ongoing involvement.  Ideally, I’d like to have ‘selected involvement’, where I can commit to do things, but then not feel guilty when I can’t or no longer want to.  This is a bit tricky once someone or an organization starts perceiving me as a reliable source of support.  For that reason, I’m very reluctant to commit to anything more at this time.

It's not that I don't want to help or provide support, but if I don't take the time to figure out what I really want to do, I'm concerned that I'll end up doing 'stuff', just to fill in time.  I'm really looking for that ultimate work/job/activity that really jazzes me up and that I can envision doing in a bigger way someday.  Whether it's a paying thing of not is not the point...I want to know that what I'm spending my time on is valuable and enjoyable to me ... and hopefully someone else.

With my new awareness and philosophy in hand, I think 2011 will be very different for me.  I predict that I’ll be able to move from high gear to low gear more easily.  For now, I’ll just rev at a higher rate, anticipating the slowdown to the next gear.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life As A Project

I’ve begun to see everything as a ‘project’.  It’s a very sick way to organize my life I realize, but it means that I do get a lot of things done….perhaps a few too many things.

I break everything into small mini-projects, determining all the intermediate steps to take so that the end is predictable.  The upside is that I have a lot of things going on at any one time because I can juggle a lot of ‘bits’ simultaneously.  The downside is that I have a lot of things going on at any one time, so people think I can manage all that’s going on.  The result:  I’m really not slowing down!!!!

Part of me thinks that this is just my way of dealing with the ambiguity of ‘retirement/unemployment’.  The other part of me thinks I’m a complete loser because I can’t slow down.  Then there’s another part that actually rationalizes this by thinking this is just the way I am. 

I really do need some help!  So what if I can take 4 writing courses, guitar lessons, guitar practice, do pro-bono project management work with 2 non-profits, meet friends for coffee, get a bit of exercise in, grocery shopping, laundry, shovel snow, create family calendars, book the side trips for our trip in Malaysia, AND keep some semblance of sanity!?  REALLY!!?