Life’s journey

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I was pleased a few weeks ago to write a few words to help celebrate the special birthday of one long standing statistician friend, and the impending retirement of another.  A young couple we know have just had a baby; we have new neighbours moved in to the house next door to us; and our daughter has told us of her promotion at work.  Births, birthdays, house moves, promotions and retirements are some of the events that mark out our lives, which we often choose to celebrate.

As children we are taught the significance of birthdays with birthday cakes and parties; first day at school is recorded in photographs, and by the time we graduate from university or get our first job, we celebrate with our friends in ways we think are appropriate to our more adult status.  Its all part of our cultural development.

Our passage through life is marked by rituals, and I expect many of us have stored away mementos of earlier times: badges and certificates from school, and of course the photo albums.  I still have my statistics undergraduate text books (and my handwritten notes) – not read for quite a while now – and also the articles I read in the early stage of my career (and some that I wrote).  I don’t see myself ever throwing these away.

One of the key roles of statisticians is to record the development of our society, its life journey, if you like, by recording and understanding the impact that events have on our world.  At a personal level too, the changes in our lives have impact.  Whether it’s parenthood, moving house, or changing job, each is a new challenge which requires some kind of response, whether active or passive.

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Retirement is a particular challenge for people who have led active working lives, and built a network of colleagues who are also friends.  When I was approaching retirement from my job at the Office for National Statistics a few years ago, a much younger colleague gave me some advice which I have valued.  First, she said, you must have a plan.  Your plan should include activities in three important areas: firstly something to remain physically active; secondly something to keep your brain active; and thirdly something to contribute to the community.  For me, the ISI has addressed two of these areas – I am afraid it does not do much for my physical well-being, but for those of you who are interested I hope we will have a Fun Run in Ottawa next year!

For those approaching retirement, activity in your national statistical society or in the ISI is an excellent way of continuing an involvement in a discipline for which you may have dedicated forty or so years.  You have so much to share with others.  Whether it is organising a session at WSC 2023, or volunteering for one of our Special Interest Groups or Outreach committees. 

So if you are at that stage of life, why not think about what your plan is, and if you are already an ISI member, think about how, after retirement, you might become more actively involved.  If you have a statistician friend or colleague who is approaching retirement and you are thinking about that perfect retirement gift, we have something special to offer – Life Membership of the ISI!

Contact for details.



5 comments on this post

  1. Excellent column, Steve. Am not sure that I will join the Fun Run in Ottawa, but surely intend to meet you and many other friends in this fantastic community that is the ISI membership there next year.

    1. Excellent column, Steve. I try to join Ottawa, and for that purpose i write paper for IPS and CPS. Hope see you in Ottawa.

  2. I fully agree. In 1994 I was forced into early retirement, due to a reorganization, and I started volunteering for ISI. After nearly 28 years I can assure you this has greatly helped me in staying intellectually healthy.

  3. Great column Steve. Resonates with a threshold that I am rapidly approaching.

    1. **On behalf of Steve Penneck**

      Thanks John, there were two special retirements I had in mind when I wrote this!


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