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Engineer winding down...What will I do now?
Old 12-08-2013, 10:48 PM   #1
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Engineer winding down...What will I do now?

Hello All!

Been reading posts here for the past few months and been very impressed with the posting civility and depth of experience and expertise of the members. Decided to join so I could join in the fun, maybe post some questions and learn something new.

I am getting ready to slow down, or switch gears, or something early next year. Do a bit less work, a bit more travel, some writing, some guitar, and maybe do, what do you call it, retire I am, however, a bit concerned with how I will adapt to the change.

I've been a full time self employed software consultant, embedded systems, for well over 30 years now. Always enjoyed each new project, got to learn new things, work with people much smarter than me, travel to interesting places. I tended to look for the high stress difficult projects, think I really used to get high on the stress. I would get depressed when the stress lowered, and pumped up when someone said "no that can't be done like that".

But now I find that the excitement of doing new projects fading, the need to prove myself gone, tiring of dealing with the marketing, the posturing, the BS, you know all the aggravating things that go along with doing the engineering fun stuff.

Like a most of the people here I have always been pretty frugal, now no debt, mortgaged paid, married, kids grown. Always maxed out my tax advantaged retirement savings. So, lo and behold, now find I can pretty much maintain my current actual spending without working. Therefore, as my current project winds down, I won't be winding up anything new. I guess I will be retired.

Like a lot of the people here, I am an indexer, I never sold any stocks in the last decline, or during any other decline during the past 30+ years. Was 100% stocks most of the time, but as retirement time grew closer started putting new funds into bonds. Which brings me to where I am now, 70% stocks, 30% bonds, where I will probably stay unless bond yields get much better.

But that gets me to the point of my quandary. I have always been driven by deadlines, what I had to do for my clients, or marketing to get new jobs. I wonder now, with these pressures gone, if I will find the same kind of drive and adventure on my own. After I travel, will I tire of it? Will my wife? I could resume playing guitar. I could start some new business, actually thinking about doing some NGO stuff abroad, but will I still have the drive? After such a long time with my work being such a big part of everything, how can I make the transition?

Don't mean to sound like I am complaining, nothing to complain about really.

Just would love to hear some advice from those here who have been in similar situations, how you adjusted or didn't. What you suggest.

Hope to hear from you and thanks for listening,
Best Regards to All
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:58 PM   #2
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But now I find that the excitement of doing new projects fading, the need to prove myself gone, tiring of dealing with the marketing, the posturing, the BS, you know all the aggravating things that go along with doing the engineering fun stuff.
Sounds like your BS bucket if getting full!! The NGO stuff sounds great, until it becomes like work, that is
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:12 AM   #3
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Do you know about this place, CaliforniaMan? You might find it interesting. MakerPlace - Home
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:50 AM   #4
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Hello CaliforniaMan, welcome to the forum.
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:34 AM   #5
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Welcome CaliforniaMan. I had some of the same worries as you. I retired (3) years ago and wonder how I ever worked. Between my volunteering for our local community center and traveling, doing home projects etc. You will find things to do with your time...on your own time. Good luck figuring it all out.
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Old 12-09-2013, 06:34 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forum. Retirement is a big adjustment, the transition is easier for some than others and often discussed here.

The vast majority have had little or no difficulty with it. One of the longest-running threads (if not the longest) is this one. It will help answer that question "What will I do all day?"

http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...day-37868.html
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:02 AM   #7
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I originally had the same concerns after a 70+ hour week/40 weeks international travel, "C" level job.

People told me that I had too many outside interests to worry about it and --after a little adjustment period-- they were right.

Hate to sound like an old, retired person, but 8 years in (yesterday) I don't know how I found the time to work!

I wouldn't worry about it. Enjoy!
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:12 AM   #8
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I was worried about many of the same things two years ago, and had a tough transition. I did absolutely nothing for a few months, then got involved with some non profits in my community, started taking classes, etc. And as soon as I starting adjusting, a project came along that I was excited about, and I took it. The beauty of being FIRE, for me, is that I don't HAVE to work, but I can if something comes up that I think will be fun. When this stops being fun, I get to stop doing it. That freedom to choose if, when and how I work was hard-won, and now much appreciated.

Enjoy your freedom!
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:27 AM   #9
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I was also an engineer and have been retired 7 years now. One important thing that I've learned is to just let things happen - to evolve at their own speed. You will change over time and for most of us, it is in a good way. I, for example, have learned to love managing my own time and have come to hate deadlines and schedules. It is no crime to read the paper for an hour and have a couple of cups of coffee, just because you want to.

Remember that FIRE means financially independent, retired early. But once you are FI, you get to define what RE means for you. It might mean starting your own business, consulting, volunteering or just hanging out. Maybe doing all of these things in combination until you find what truly makes you happy, as opposed to what you think that you "should " be doing. This is hard for an engineer, initially, because so much of our life is spent planning and predicting outcomes.

Welcome.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:12 PM   #10
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I was also an engineer and have been retired 7 years now. One important thing that I've learned is to just let things happen - to evolve at their own speed. You will change over time and for most of us, it is in a good way. I, for example, have learned to love managing my own time and have come to hate deadlines and schedules. It is no crime to read the paper for an hour and have a couple of cups of coffee, just because you want to. Remember that FIRE means financially independent, retired early. But once you are FI, you get to define what RE means for you. It might mean starting your own business, consulting, volunteering or just hanging out. Maybe doing all of these things in combination until you find what truly makes you happy, as opposed to what you think that you "should " be doing. This is hard for an engineer, initially, because so much of our life is spent planning and predicting outcomes. Welcome.
I agree. I'm an engineer also. I 'practiced' being retired by taking several weeks of vacation the last 2 years I was working. I tried out different things, like playing golf with the retiree guys, doing yoga during the day, walking the lake in the morning, etc. I got the sense of what I liked. I also started some new hobbies.

But the biggest learning was as quoted above. To let the day come to me. I try to have 2 days a week where I 'wake up in the morning' and THEN decide what to do. AKA let things happen and come to me, as opposed to planning. What a freedom those days are!!
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Old 12-09-2013, 10:10 PM   #11
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I was an engineer with my own company and retired four years ago at age 40. It's been mixed, although between working and retirement there's no question retirement is more fun. I think a lot depends if you have kids at home or not (I don't). I keep busy intellectually working on a couple open-source software projects. The main adjustment I found was that the city during the day feels lonely because it's mostly the elderly and housewives going about their business. I just don't relate. My "peers" are all at work and I feel a little left out.

Still though, I'm glad I retired.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:14 AM   #12
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Similar here. Retired in 2012 at 43 after selling a software business. I work at keeping a connection to my tech and startup communities, do some programming for enjoyment, advise a few companies, etc

There are some drawbacks being so young and REed but they can be mitigated.

I do get approached with intriguing job offers occasionally but haven't been lured back yet. But, who knows. If the right business opportunity or position appeared I would consider it.

As someone else said, FIRE for me is about freedom to make the choices that are best for me and not following other people's expectations or scripts.
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:24 AM   #13
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Rather than duplicate a post, I'll just link to it.

See Early retirement experiences?
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:47 AM   #14
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Yeah, I am curious if some successful engineers really miss their work.

I had a good engineering career and called it quits at age 41. I was both retiring from something and to something. It has been over 6 years of retirement now. But I was really surprised that after just a few years, I had absolutely no thoughts of my former career. It is like a universe far, far away and I have moved to a new galaxy. I never think about it and I have totally, completely, absolutely "moved on".
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:00 AM   #15
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I was an engineer/manager for 35 years, retired 2˝ years ago. I also offer my reply from the other thread...

Early retirement experiences?
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:47 AM   #16
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I am an engineer (in CA) and retired 3 yrs ago. I guess what I would add to this thread is that there are some things you won't know until you "officially" retire. You have your current interests and maybe a bucket list but once you are into it there are some things you do, some things you don't do and then there is the stuff that piques your interest that you had never thought of. Part of the fun is to rediscover yourself and have the time to take advantage of the opportunities. It's OK to have doubts and fears but I think the people who have real difficulties are the ones that don't know themselves, can't find themselves, and live other people's expectations.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:17 PM   #17
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I am an engineer (in CA) and retired 3 yrs ago. I guess what I would add to this thread is that there are some things you won't know until you "officially" retire. You have your current interests and maybe a bucket list but once you are into it there are some things you do, some things you don't do and then there is the stuff that piques your interest that you had never thought of. Part of the fun is to rediscover yourself and have the time to take advantage of the opportunities. It's OK to have doubts and fears but I think the people who have real difficulties are the ones that don't know themselves, can't find themselves, and live other people's expectations.
+1

Besides, this is a golden age for engineers who like to tinker. There are under $50 linux computers & controllers (like Raspberry & Arduino) and a whole ecosystems around them. Home automation, dvrs, home audio ...the list goes on.. Then there are MOOCs to help you learn new stuff. It is an amazing world that we live in - why would we want to let anyone else dictate how we spend our time?
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:57 PM   #18
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I am an engineer who is going to retire soon (0.5 to 2.5 years). I am in the process of building a 2000 SF shop building stocked with a full wood, metal and electronic shop. I am going to spend the rest of my life creating whatever the heck I want to, instead of what the clients want me to create.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:33 AM   #19
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Welcome from someone who does embedded software in San Diego. Perhaps our paths have crossed.

I haven't pulled the trigger yet - but am getting ready to in a few years. (target age is 55 - so 3 years left for me.) I'm pretty open about my retirement plans with coworkers - and am often asked "what will you do all day". I keep pointing out that work is interfering with the activities/interests I have outside of work. Since they know I volunteer a lot, am a passionate learner, and love to travel... they get it.

Here in San Diego there are lots of opportunities for activities. I try to take the time to walk my dog on the beach (dogs allowed till 9am, year round), explore the museums on free Tuesdays (when I have a tuesday off work), etc. It's a tourist destination here - and most locals don't bother to see the touristic sites. They're worth seeing.
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:25 PM   #20
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Engineer here too, one who really liked his work and thought he would never retire from his well-paid part-time consulting job.

About what to do after ER? Well, most people would just do whatever they did earlier outside of work, just a lot more of it. Goofing around, home improving, gardening, traveling, or just taking more naps. It's amazing that these activities expand themselves to take up the time you used to spend working.

I really need to log off now to get out of this timeshare, to go explore more of this tourist town where we are staying.
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