Dec 112023

I had reached retirement. Perhaps it was finally time to do a life plan.

If I’d ever had a life plan before, it had been earlier (much earlier)—to clone my mother; to marry at twenty-six (after gaining qualifications in the health sector), to have four children and live a happy life in the country town where I was born. That seemed a good plan. Instead, I got married at twenty-two, divorced at twenty-seven and untidily left the country town—fortunately with no kids in tow. At least I had managed to get that qualification in the health sector.

But retirement brings a time of reckoning; a time when you need to take stock, to pose big questions like “Is my life on track?”, “Are my loved ones proud of me?”, “Am I proud of myself?”, “Am I achieving desired goals?” … Shit! “Do I have any goals?”

When I ventured on this path of self-appraisal somewhat late in life, some might have said the horse had bolted. But a sixty-something-year-old woman still has the possibility of twenty years stretching ahead of her. And so, I ploughed on. And where better to start the search for how to make a life plan than on the internet?

I googled ‘How to…‘.

Being impatient I scanned through the search prompts…

tie a tie, make pancakes, train your dragon, write a resume, have sex.

Trying to stay lexically lean, I added a further two search terms,

‘… do a …’

but this led to an equal lack of clarity; now I had to sift through…

how to do ahandstand, messy bun, fishtail braid, waterfall braid, tie

There was that damned tie again—is knowledge of tie tying so lacking and yet so important in this day and age? Don’t children have parents who can teach them? But maybe they don’t have to wear ties at school anymore?

Finally, I overcame my allegiance to quick and dirty solutions, and fully typed …

How to do a life plan‘,

but only after vetoing further prompts …

How to do a life… cycle analysis, event on Facebook, audit, or review.

Surely the plan should come before the audit or review and certainly before the life event on Facebook (whatever that is). Fortunately, ‘How to do a life safety plan‘ was less popular than just ‘a life plan’ without the safety, a life presumably prepared to embrace risk, or I might have just cried!

Finally, I thought I had found my Rubicon, but I still had to choose between an eleven-step life plan (with pictures) or the more tantalising seven step life plan (still with pictures). No wonder I had never done one before; it was hard enough just to know how to do one, let alone to actually do one. No wonder I’d spent my life shamefully free-wheeling—no life plan with periodic review, let alone audit. Occasionally lists appeared in my diaries that could be taken for some form of order. But being partial to writing, my efforts towards anything that resembled a ‘plan’ or a ‘review’ would then stray wildly from the succinct dot points to become more like a walk in the dark, full of imagined ghouls and goblins or tragi-romantic comedies and soap operas of the worst kind.

But retirement was an event of significant enough proportions that I did attempt a life plan. This plan now begs for my attention less than a dusty window sill. (I’m not big on dusting). Sure, I need a goal to get me out of bed in the morning, but then, I’m sure that eventually something would drive me to have that shower no matter what. And then the walk in fresh air—fitness being a valuable side-effect. A life plan goal or simply a drive, rational thinking? And then the phone call to a friend I haven’t spoken to for a while—social connection with others and sanity being a valuable side-effect. And then my class teaching Greek at University of the Third Age—a sense of purpose. Are these life-defining activities the result of a well thought-through plan?

Follow your obsessions, I once read when writing seemed to be one. And there must still be a drive within me to write for here I am, writing. Should I have a life plan to become a famous writer, to at least publish somewhere? It seems that’s not how my life works. Now that I have this understanding, I will probably never google “How to write a life plan” ever again.

What a relief.