Making A Ten Year Plan

2013-12-26 08.36.10When I was 30 my 10 year plan was to build a new career focussed on delivering value from IT Infrastructure, earn £45K a year (in todays terms) and be there for my wife and kids.  I exceeded all of these but in doing so contributed to significant health problems. 

When I got to 40 my plan was to rebuild my health, support Debbie in her new career, find a sustainable and enjoyable low stress job working a lot less hours, spend more time with Debbie and kids and save for retirement. 

I’ve mostly achieved all of these goals, so now at 50 I’m planning for the next 10 years!

This post lays out my plan for those years, in rough priority order:

  1. Build a stronger relationship with my wife, sometimes it’s easy to neglect the most important person in my life.  I don’t want make that mistake
  2. Develop activities that allow me to spend time with each of my children once they have flown the nest
  3. Have lots of fun along the way but keep it simple
  4. Fully align my diet to the guide that I recently wrote on this topic
  5. Further improve my health to the point where I can do some long distance walks and cycle rides around the UK, even if I do them slowly with plenty of rest stops
  6. Keep working and save enough money to have the OPTION of retiring in 5 years time
  7. Write at least one book and publish it online, probably for free
  8. Develop a good list of activities and challenges that I can take up in retirement, if I don’t have confidence that I am going to have fun in retirement AND if I have the option, I will keep working
  9. Research where we want to live in retirement, although there’s no rush to decide, we are happy where we are and will probably stay here
  10. Re-develop my garden, if we decide to stay
  11. Refresh the internal decoration of my house, if we decide to stay

In general I’m not in favour of planning too much in the short term, but it does pay to have some idea of where I’m going in broad terms.  Of course any good plan, needs to have contingencies.  My health is currently getting slightly worse, not better.  I might get made redundant or the stock market might falter.  So I’m building resilience into this plan, so that it adapts to unforeseen changes. 

The plan of action in slightly more detail follows.

Build a stronger relationship with my wife

As we find we have more time on our hands, Debbie and I need to make sure we spend some of that time together, to make sure we don’t run the risk of spending it growing apart.  We’ve started this already, eating out more and getting into the routine of going out together at weekends.  I’m loving it, but we can do more.  This is especially important as Debbie gets more absorbed by her teaching diploma and later career.

Spend time with each of my children

The kids will probably leave home some time in the next 10 years, I want them to spread their wings and so we probably won’t live close to them.  It’s important to me to find some shared interests and rituals that allow us to keep in touch, beyond the obligatory visits.

Have lots of fun along the way

I want to really enjoy the next 10 years, I want to practice retirement ideas when I can, like taking plenty of holidays, evenings out, weekend and week long adventures and lots of learning.  I also want to keep my life simple though, not buying things but maxing out on the simple experiences in life that bring joy every day.

Fully align my diet to the guide that I recently wrote

I need to find a way to eat organ meats, onions and eliminate most sugar from my diet except maybe a weekly treat.

Further improve my health

I still have a long way to go.  Particular areas of focus:

  1. Further reduce the number of headaches I have
  2. Reduce the frequency and severity of flares
  3. Reduce the damage to my tendons, particularly my achilles, knees and shoulders
  4. Increase my flexibility which has got dramatically worse over the last 10 years
  5. Reduce the damage already done to my joints, particularly my shoulders
  6. Get into the habit of regular stretching
  7. Get into the habit of regular swimming
  8. Rebuild my ability to cycle, so that I can do more than a couple of miles

Keep working and save enough money

keeping working is a constant challenge.  How do I make myself useful in the limited hours I work.  I’ve done ok on this so far, this blog provides a record of how.  As to saving enough money, this is now largely down to the stock market, but several other factors will contribute. 

  1. I’ve given up buying anything for myself except experiences for now,  I doubt I will return to buying much in the future and not-buying has been such a positive experience
  2. I will be putting more money into pension as a result of the excellent reforms the government has recently introduced
  3. Hopefully Debbie will be working as a teacher in 18 months time
  4. The kids are gradually becoming self sufficient

Write at least one book

I’m already sketching out ideas for my first book in a Simple Guide To Health on my blog.  Once this is finished in a few months, I’m planning to revisit each article and research it much more thoroughly, expand the article, add links to additional resources and add diagrams/info-graphics.  It will take me about 2 years to revisit all the articles.  These articles will provide the raw content for the book which will then need a lot of additional crafting.  I’m hoping to have it ready in 2-3 years time, probably for free as an eBook, or maybe 99p. 

I’m then hoping to write at least two more books. 

The first is An Architects Guide to Project Management, I already have a rough sketch for this book in the series of articles summarised in Why Projects Fail and What To Do About It.  These articles will need expanding and then need to go through the same process of iteration described above.

I have a few other ideas for books:

  1. Living Well With Chronic Illness
  2. Living Well In Retirement
  3. People Centric Workplace Design
  4. Personal Knowledge Management
  5. Living Well With Technology

Update: see this post, for the latest ideas about book writing

Activities and challenges that I can take on in retirement

I have a notebook full of ideas that will hopefully keep me busy and happy in retirement, these include:

  1. The aforementioned books I’m thinking of writing
  2. Learning to draw and paint
  3. Long distance walks
  4. Creating innovative and beautiful guides for my favourite walks
  5. Lot’s of reading
  6. Working on developing St Anne’s as a Transition Town
  7. Developing a Guide To Life In And St Anne’s and the surrounding area, the current web sites are rubbish
  8. Volunteering at Rossall Point, viewpoint
  9. and many many more

Research where we want to live in retirement

Much as I love St Anne’s it seems foolish to not consider other options.  Moving would probably be exciting, but it’s also a risk.  I’m slightly conflicted, on one hand I believe in being content with what I have, that happiness comes from within and that we can get plenty of excitement by travelling.  On the other hand when I go to other places that I love like Cleveleys, Scarborough or Filey and soak up the views and breath in the fresh sea air I yearn for a change.

For now I’m just taking holidays around the UK and considering the options

Update: we’ve decided to stay where we are for now, see this post explaining why

Re-developing my garden

I’m pretty sure that if we decide to stay in St Anne’s then I will be spending more time in the garden.  I want a range of places to spend time:

  1. Sheltered and sunny spots to sit and read
  2. A workshop/studio so I can redevelop my interests in arts and craft, it’s been a long time since I had the time to enjoy them
  3. A greenhouse and raised beds to grow more of my own food and flowers

Refreshing the internal decoration of my house

As the girls leave home we will have a lot of space in this house, whilst I would consider down sizing we do still want space for visitors (4 kids and their families) and we love the location of this house, so we might stay.  If we do, we have a great opportunity to create new spaces:

  1. I’d like to turn the front room into a clone of Caffe Nero, but with more book cases.  A great warm space for chatting and reading.  It currently has a huge desk, chest of draws and a sofa bed that aren’t included in my plan
  2. I’d like to turn Anna’s lovely big sunny bedroom into an exercise room, optimised for meditation, yoga and free weights
  3. I’d like to turn the two smaller bedrooms into studies for Debbie and Me
  4. This would allow us to turn the conservatory, currently my office, into a sunny dining room for two and a dedicated sun lounge.  No computers in sight!
  5. We’ve been waiting for the girls to grow up before we replace carpets and re-decorate, we will do this over the next couple of years

Of course we would need these rooms to convert back into sleeping space for visitors too.

Resilience to unforeseen changes

Just a few examples:

  1. I’ve already convinced myself that I can live on very little.  I have a list of all the things I currently spend money on with no/low cost alternatives for most of them
  2. We can downsize our house and go for a few large, high quality rooms rather than many smaller rooms as we have now
  3. If my health falters I can spend more time enjoying interests that are more house/garden/workshop centric rather than travel, cycling and walking.
  4. I’m gradually experimenting by reducing my working hours, if I get bored then I can start increasing them again and work for longer
  5. I’m practicing some of my ideas for retirement, like writing books, now

The photo at the top of the page is of the sun rising through the trees, close to the beach near our house.  I took it on my 50th birthday, a great photo for a post about my 10 year plan for a new dawn.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

3 Responses

  1. July 29, 2014

    […] Personal Preparations For Retirement (covering strengthening relationships, getting house ready, baseline fitness) […]

  2. August 31, 2014

    […] I need to get started now!  So I’ve added writing a book to my Ten Year Plan, decided to make this list of the books I’d consider writing and got to work.  The rough list […]

  3. January 7, 2017

    […] Personal Preparations For Retirement covering strengthening relationships, getting house ready, baseline fitness […]

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