At the start of 2013 I was into the 16th year of full-time employment in UK rail software.  I’m now fully established as my own boss and have kicked the rat race into submission.  I won’t be going back there again in a hurry.

In a few days we’ll all have our hands tucked under our elbows, holding hands with the people on either side of us, singing Auld Lang Syne.  Or at least a couple of lines of it; whatever we can remember.  I’ll be thinking fondly of a close friend with Scottish roots, who was swept away in a bloated river while enjoying her beloved canoeing.  I’ll be thinking of you, Jane Halliday (1977-2010).

A lot of us will give a few moments thought to a New Year’s resolution.  Most of them will be forgotten before January is out.  I wonder what you are thinking of.  How about forgetting the traditional diets and the like and going for something a bit different this year?  How about choosing to have more time?

We are all rushed off our feet trying to fit modern life into the 24 hours we have available.   This at a time of such plenty, where there is easily enough food produced around the world to feed everyone, and only a fraction of our time spent producing it.  What on earth are we doing?  What are we doing in those busy 24 hours?  Many people are speeding around trying to make ends meet.  If we are lucky enough to have more money than we need, we carefully re-arrange the ends so we are struggling again, by buying a bigger car, a more advanced phone, going on holiday further afield or extending the house.

How about instead taking the gift of time and just keeping it.  What are we gaining from this extra material wealth.  We could instead read more, learn a new skill or language, spend more time with friends and family or help others.

This may seem a pipe dream.  Surely it is not possible for you?

I didn’t think it was for me.  Then I realised that it was just a choice I was making.

The first step is to reduce your outgoings, by using things until they can’t be fixed again and not relenting to the pressure of the adverts on the telly.  A typical household could save thousands by not buying a new car until the old one is a goner, holidaying in your country, taking care with the energy bills, only buying the food needed.  Once into the habit of spending less, the step to a more part time working life will seem that much more possible.

As for me, I’ll be doing the same.  That means focussing on the important jobs I have taken on and doing what I can to get more people involved to spread the load.

This will start with the promotion of the second Ashlyns Lecture on 22 January, to be held at Ashlyns School in Berkhamsted.  The incredible Polly Higgins will be talking about daring to be great in her talk, erm, “Dare to be Great”.  Another possible new year’s resolution?  Book your tickets now – it will be an inspiring evening.

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke


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