Skip to main content
The Daily Paradox

The Daily Paradox: Tidy Up

Mostly we dislike tidying up. It often signifies the end of things – a childhood, a romance, a time at university, a job, a period of being parents, a career and, at the end, a life. Saying goodbye to any part of our existence is difficult, disturbing and somehow final, even when we know or believe that there is more yet to come. Sometimes we are tidying up after a storm, putting the pieces back together again, refurbishing to carry on as if nothing has happened. In typhoon-prone areas the tidying up must be done before the storm hits, to make life as safe as possible from destruction and loss. Whatever the reason, tidying up is a chore.

Getting the timing right is tricky. As the original Rothschild said of his wealth “I never bought at the bottom of the market, never sold at the top”. In other words his forecasting wasn’t perfect. Nor will yours, or ours, be. Prudent glances ahead are the best we can hope for. Taking action in time is inevitably a matter of luck. 2024 could turn out to be a very lucky year.

Sailing once on the QEII from Los Angeles to Auckland the Captain informed us shortly after Honolulu that he was diverting the ship to avoid a heavy storm – so fierce, in fact, that the ship was advised not to go near it. In the event the weather forecasters and / or the ship’s navigator miscalculated and drove us right into the middle of the storm. Getting in and out of it reduced the ship and the passengers to gibbering idiots. I remember I was one of only about a dozen passengers still standing at one point. The eye of the storm was like a millpond. Thus proving that it is not easy to know exactly where you are.

We certainly don’t know exactly where we are today, just after the start of 2024. Certainly not the doldrums but also with lots of whirlpools around us, each threatening to become a storm. So many, in fact, that to ignore the possibility of one, or some, becoming violent is to ignore common sense. We don’t all want to become seasick. So you should tidy up and prepare for the more or less inevitable blast when it arrives.

What steps should you take to be sensible but not hysterical?

First, turn off the taps of outflow of money and other resources you may need more urgently than before. Don’t stop living, just live more carefully. By how much might you aim to reduce your optional expenditure? Your shout, of course, depending on circumstances. My suggestion is 12% to 15%. Why? It’s not too painful for most people to do this and it doesn’t threaten the collapse of the economy – anyway, only one in twenty-five will actually do it.

Second, sort out your finances to the point where you really know what your options are. If you are over 35 and you are not saving some money each month you should start to do so now. Old age for most people is going to be a long and costly business however well the state provides for your medical costs. Diets, OTC painkillers, comfort you really need when the body creaks, all cost money. You will need to spend.

Third, reconcile the family where there are rifts and disagreements. This is the hardest thing to do, so do not anticipate one hundred percent success. However, when times are tough the family is a strong institution for all its quirks and battles. A coherent and cohesive family is a tower of strength in a crisis.

Fourth, sort out your career. Don’t quit one job until you have the next. Don’t job hunt for a 10% increase in wages. That might be nice to have but the price of it is that you are ‘last in’ and may become ‘first out’ if there are redundancies. Time spent with most jobs is a small but useful credit in your life. And whatever you do, please plan the next job and don’t rely on vacancies as the only way to find it. The best jobs are seldom advertised and often don’t exist until you create them. In a time of considerable WFH your creative efforts about jobs can pay off handsomely.

Fifth – and it ought to be first, really – sort out your purpose in life. Not a priority in a crisis? Don’t kid yourself. A crisis is just when you need your purpose most. It is the destination you are aiming for. All the rest is the vehicle that will get you there.

The QEII reached Auckland none the worse for its stormy adventure.

Because the Captain knew where he was heading.

Good morning

John Bittleston

Need help to tidy up? You know where to call – [email protected].

21 January 2024