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At the end of March I officially become a victim of the Government cutbacks when funding for my post ceases. (Thank you very much Michael Gove, you bumptious little Tory so-and-so.) Rather than begin what I suspect would be a pretty fruitless search for work, I've decided to take early retirement and if I'm honest, I'm really looking forward to being free to do exactly as I please for the first time in my life. After making that momentous decision, I had one of those eek moments when it suddenly dawned on me that once I've done all those jobs around the house and in the garden that I've been threatening to do for years, I was going to have an awful lot of leisure time to fill. Retirement suddenly seemed a rather daunting prospect.
I'm not a great one for self-help books because I'm firmly of the belief that we shouldn't need to be told by some so called expert how to live our lives but when I spotted this ebook whilst mooching in the Kindle store, I decided it might be worth the few pence it cost if it gave me lots of ideas on how to cope with all my new found freedom.
I bought this when it was on offer at the Kindle store for 99p. The price has now risen to £4.19 which I think is a little steep for what it is but the book is also available in paperback and used copies can be obtained from 1p plus postage.
As self-help books go, this one isn't half bad. It's part of a series of self help books, this one being written by Janet Butwell, herself a retiree, so at least she's speaking from personal experience. One of my main complaints about books which purport to tell you how to improve yourself is that apart from stating the bleeding obvious, they frequently tend to patronise their readers. You'll be pleased to know, in this book Ms Butwell doesn't do either.
After a brief warning from the author and her publishers that they take no responsibility for any course of action a reader may decide to embark upon, the contents page shows brief details of the 52 chapters, each of which is dedicated to one idea. These are the kind of ideas or activities which are, in the main, easy to get started with almost straight away. In case the idea on offer is either too life changing or not up the reader's street, there are also alternative suggestions plus tips on how to put the suggestions into practice. All this is accompanied by words of wisdom, many from the world's greatest thinkers such as Nietzsche and Voltaire, but also from singers, writers, statesmen and the like, and all are designed to motivate and inspire. Each chapter is then finished off with a frequently asked questions section covering likely concerns readers may have.
In her introduction, Janet Butwell explains the purpose of the book is designed to help retirees plan for their retirement and enjoy it to its full potential. She took early retirement and was incensed to discover how often retired people were disregarded by all sectors of society and this book is partly a rallying cry to take up arms and fight against the general opinion that once you've retired you're of no account. In fact, one of the chapters is specifically about getting involved in the community and dealing with the prevailing attitude that once a person retires they're over the hill. Like me, Ms Butwell is a baby boomer. We're the generation which has had the best of everything throughout our lives and we see no reason why that shouldn't continue. After all, 60 is the new 40!
There is a sort of natural progression to the chapters with the early ones dealing with the prospect of retirement and practical considerations such as getting a pension forecast, ways to cope with living on a fixed income and setting goals for your future, before moving on to the more ambitious projects that a retiree may want to undertake: taking up new hobbies, having more adventurous holidays or conducting an audit of friends and ditching those you merely put up with rather than like. Whatever the topic, this book offers lots of positive and helpful advice and it's given from a British perspective. This isn't one of those over-the-top American self help tomes which promises to transform your life, but rather suggests ways to make changes be they small, medium or big ones, bit by bit. I should possibly have said bite by bite as the chapter dealing with making bigger changes is called Eat the Elephant though it suggests doing it one bite at a time!
I have to say that some of the chapters make for quite depressing reading dealing as they do with making a will, cutting down on food and drink because apparently pensioners can't metabolise calories as rapidly and the one about arranging your own funeral made me feel like immediately turning my toes up despite my belief that there's plenty of life still in this old dog! Despite the slightly sombre subject in these chapters, the advice is practical and offered in a relatively light-hearted way. This book is about facing the future, however limited, with optimism and excitement rather than just vegetating.
If I have any complaint, it's that the Kindle format probably isn't the best way to access the information in this type of book where the chances are the reader will want to flip back and forward through the text.
All in all this is already proving to be a very useful little book and I think it's one I'll be referring to quite a bit in the coming months as I adjust to the next phase in my life.