How about a life of TOYL?

Retirement as it was once known no longer exists for the many, instead we transition from what we did post education to a phase of life with hopefully more leisure, less ‘work’, more pursuit of passions and hopefully less pressure to earn to the level we needed to before or indeed at all.

I and others seem to struggle with the nomenclature for this phase – terms such as the 3rd age or 3rd Act have been used as of course are retirement or semi-retirement. Whatever we call it, it is hopefully the antithesis of the preceding ‘toil’of work so toyl – the Time Of Your Life (to have the Time Of Your Life) might just cover at least some aspects.

The more I look into whatever ‘retirement’ actually is the less I find it fits the old mould. It wasn’t that long ago that we toiled until 65 and left work with our gold watch and a relatively short life expectancy. Now we may be forced into this 3rd (st)age by redundancy or be lucky enough to take early retirement. In fact the more I study friends, colleagues and acquaintances the more diverse I find their solutions based on essentially the same data set. I know several who continue to work into old age albeit at a lesser pace. George for one still retains the passion for General Practice and surprisingly even the medico-politics. Andrew a lawyer is about to retire at 55 and “do nothing” (We’ll see about that!) Others continue their job as it is their passion but part-time and often picking and choosing so that they do less of those aspects they dislike and more of those things they enjoy and get energy from. Age seems to be a less and less important issue. John realised that without planning and more by luck than judgement he found himself in a situation where he had a modest income from property that covered the basics of living. He now does ‘bits and pieces’ – bar work and helping at music festivals, not to make his fortune but to have spending money and to enjoy himself – often racing old bangers! In contrast Robert always seems in need of another million to see himself ‘comfortable’ in old age. I honestly think John is happier and more content with his life albeit his house and assets are almost certainly 1/20th that of Robert’s. He’s also taken the ‘plunge’ 10-15 years earlier and so far as he’s concerned is living HIS dream. I have also met many people of ‘working age’ who have developed ‘portfolio careers’ – sometimes taking on different aspects of their careers on different days – two days ‘job’. A day or two writing or in management and a day or so as a volunteer or following a passion such as music or sport. These typically younger ‘millennials’ are I feel better suited than some of us traditional types as when the time is right they can reduce down or expand their portfolio contents and as their need to earn (hopefully) reduces. This will allow them to spend more time in leisure and following their passions as for many the mortgage will have been paid off and children will have left the nest and be less financially dependent on them as parents.

So what is ‘TOYL’ and why should we be thinking about this whatever our age? Retirement in the old sense is an improbable outcome for most of us and the younger one is the less likely this is. We know that transition is often easier to deal with than a sudden ‘falling off the cliff’, so why not start early.

So why not start TOYLing now? After all at any age surely it’s the Time Of Your Life to have the Time Of Your Life? As William said you’ve likely done double, double TOIL and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble as a career and if you are lucky enough to find that like Charles’ and Mr Micawber’s famous, and oft-quoted, recipe for happiness: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness”. (Rather than “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”) why not go for a life of TOYL rather than TOIL? Happy toiling!


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