How to Cope?

Oh Gae, how am I going to get through the rest of my life without your advice?

Well, I hope this last column is going to help. Second, you’ll have ‘Bruce’. And third, I will be available for personal consultations at exorbitant rates!

I’m going to leave you with a ‘care package’ which addresses some of the big questions you may find yourself asking in future years – at least, those I haven’t already dealt with. Think of it as an advice pre-load, to be stored away and consulted when the need arises. (And you’ve been saving all my other columns, right?)

Why is my life always so busy?

Work, study, family, checking Facebook, exercise, dating, creative pursuits, buying coffees, eating, personal grooming, commuting, Candy Crush, cleaning, uploading photos of your dinner, spiritual renewal… whichever combination of these you have chosen for your life, it almost certainly adds up to Too Much. And, to be brutal, you could lose one or two if you really wanted. But we don’t give things up – we go on cramming it all in, amassing huge sleep deficits and complaining to each other about the fact that we have no time.

And a solution? I’ve been thinking about it, of course, and for years have been advocating the insertion of an additional eight hours in each day (after 6pm) – or, alternatively, a bonus ‘nothing day’ between Friday and Saturday. But to which authority do I submit my application?


I’m not sure I really want to be an actuary any more…

Of course you’re not – hardly anyone is. And doctors out there are wondering whether they should have been vignerons, engineers dream of alternative careers as stage designers, and politicians wish – well, goodness knows. As a profession generally, I don’t think we have too much to whinge about, with our cushy offices, good pay, and fancy calculators. But if you are personally unhappy, you need to take action! Life IS too short to spend 40 years in a career you don’t enjoy.

Why does my weight creep up a little each year?

You know this! Because, despite your best intentions and plans, you keep eating and drinking at 110% and exercising at 80%. And – to make matters worse – it is one of the many adversities of ageing that you need to eat LESS as you get older, which means the creep can turn into a gallop unless something serious is done. So that’s your choice: address the problem, or… prepare to lose sight of your feet before too long. There are 13,993 different diets on the web, and a whole two of these have not been discredited by the medical establishment! (Did you know… there’s an Aussie diet called ‘kangatarian’? It’s vegetarian + kangaroo meat only. Sensational!)

“Why don’t I have a wonderful bigger, better house?”

This problem eats away at many of us, and we really shouldn’t be reading the real estate section. It dawned on me a while back that no matter how nice my house is I will always see better ones that make me sick with envy. And therefore we have an intractable problem. On a positive note, I am planning to make friends with the owners of those other houses.

Why do they keep making the actuarial exams easier and easier?

Generations of actuaries have been asking this same question, after every change in the exam system (I estimate there have been about eight radical re-fashionings of the path to qualification since I got there 20 years ago). I think we could characterise the changes in recent years as attempts to reduce the collateral trauma to students’ lives. Inevitably, the changes won’t ever be complete. And, be assured, the exams will never be easy.

Why didn’t anyone tell me how dramatically a newborn baby would change my life? She’s the most delightful creature ever, but… the lack of sleep! The pain! The dramas! The anxiety!

We didn’t warn you because you wouldn’t have believed us. And it’s not so bad; most babies seem to become a little more civilised at three months. And you will start to get some semblance of your life back within five to seven years (provided you don’t have a second child).

Will the swans win the premiership this year?

They ARE looking good aren’t they? (at least when I wrote this column seven weeks ago).


Thanks for reading the columns, folks, and a big ‘mwah’ to everyone who has sent me feedback or questions.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” – Garrison Keillor

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