At one time I was the Planning Officer at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. What this meant was that, in addition to my day job, I developed the Garden’s annual Corporate Plans to advise our paymasters, the Scottish Office, on our priorities and goals for each rolling three-year period, and on the strategies we would adopt to achieve our objectives. The process was interesting; I certainly learned more about the ins and outs of this wonderful organisation than most of my colleagues below Director level. It was iterative, involving many hours of discussions, and working up from ideas to fully formed plans, with milestones, measurable outcomes and specific targets. I firmly believed that all good plans must set specific objectives to be achieved within a given time frame.
It’s been a long time since I retired, having reached the dizzying heights of Director of Corporate Services (responsible for Finance, Personnel, Estates, governance and administration) within a complex and fascinating scientific, horticultural and educational establishment of four gardens, over 200 staff, and a multi-million pound annual budget.
I loved it, but I don’t miss it. My life now is taken up mainly with literary, musical and artistic activities, and it’s a very full life. These days I enjoy serendipity, unplanned happy accidents, and coping with the unpredictability of evolving interests and friendships.
But I still like to have an element of my life that is planned; I still want to reach certain specific goals in future. So I’m sketching out an outline of my personal plan for the next three years, because that’s as far ahead as I want to consider.
I won’t put detail on it, not in public anyway, but the main feature is that I want to focus on my home life and my own writing, and to cut back on all my admin commitments, because although these are creative in their own way, they do give rise to stress and the occasional anxiety, and at my time of life I can without that.
2016 will be a transitional year, when I start to cut back, and 2017 will be the year when the remaining changes will be implemented.