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Fork in the Road
Old 05-28-2008, 08:53 PM   #1
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Hello to everyone. Have long enjoyed the very insightful and useful discussions here.

By way of introduction, I am 60. Single, no dependent. I have worked for this law firm for the last few years. I enjoyed my work, though not working with all my colleagues. I was unhappy enough with my firm that I worked with a headhunter and on the verge of landing a very well paying job in a new state with no state income tax.

Things fell apart for me when one of the deals I was handling got botched. The clients were not happy. While I can dispute the whole sequence of events, my alleged fault and the actual damage, the firm decided one some had to fall on the sword to placate the clients. I was suspended briefly and now demoted to handling the work of junior members of the firm ( doing research and drafting briefs) but no longer allowed to handle any deals. My compensation was cut to reflect the diminished role. On top of that, the firm reported the whole misadventure to the state controlling authority, alleging malpractice I think I may be placed on probation, but there are promises of working my way back, but it would take a couple of years while I am in the probationary purgatory.

I know I am good at what I do and had been enjoying my line of work ( the challenge and the power?) , and what happened was the firm overreacting to protect itself. My question to myself is whether I should put myself through the humiliations and efforts to work my way back, especially at my age. The job I was about to get fell through when my firms took the actions it did. The probation and the ill will of the firm will probably follow me professionally forever, so any future professional opportunity will most likely never be the same. While I was placed on leave, I found that there are many other things that I am enjoying doing (the many books I stashed away and wanting to read; music, museum) , and work and my profession might just not as important as a piece my future course in life.

Looking at where I am today. I am quite well set up for the rest of my life financially if I do not work for another day. I have lived well below my means, and material things had never held any interest for me. I can never exhaust what I have now with my present life style. If I had started on that other job, I would have a decent size estate. The increased worth would only serve to keep score. ( Would that mean anything though when you are gone? ) I have no heir and I was thinking about passing on my estate to some charitable trust. Although I still have not identified any cause that interest me at this point. And after what I had been through, I wonder whether I am still as charitable as I had felt.

I hope I did not convey an impression of a bitter and grandiose a-hole. Any feedback wisdom is most welcomed.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:01 PM   #2
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Welcome to the board.

Sometimes professional corporations do seem to throw someone under the bus in order to obscure more widespread issues, and it sounds like you got caught in the middle. Sorry you have to end your last career phase under those circumstances.

The fact that you've been lurking on a retirement board and have plenty of money speaks worlds about what you really want to do. What's stopping you from quitting, taking a break, then pursuing whatever would make you happy? Is it something concrete, like healtlh insurance, or something more related to the nonfinancial side, such as self image, missing the social aspects, fear of boredom?

Just curious. Many here would be glad to be in your situation.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:02 PM   #3
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Looking at where I am today. I am quite well set up for the rest of my life financially if I do not work for another day. I have lived well below my means, and material things had never held any interest for me. I can never exhaust what I have now with my present life style. If I had started on that other job, I would have a decent size estate. The increased worth would only serve to keep score. ( Would that mean anything though when you are gone? ) I have no heir and I was thinking about passing on my estate to some charitable trust. Although I still have not identified any cause that interest me at this point. And after what I had been through, I wonder whether I am still as charitable as I had felt.

I hope I did not convey an impression of a bitter and grandiose a-hole. Any feedback wisdom is most welcomed.
I am not sure what you want. Many people come here wanting to know if they have enough to quit. You certainly have prepared a good brief for why you might wish to quit, and you claim to have the means.

I guess all that remains is for you to decide what you want. I think in your situation as you describe it, many here would walk away for good. But as you are aware, your vignette is low on detail, so maybe there are other considerations.

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Old 05-28-2008, 09:56 PM   #4
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Too often lousy things happen to good folks. Loyalty is no longer in an employers vocabulary. You have options because of a LBYM lifestyle over your lifetime. Perhaps now it is time to reflect on the work option or the move on to a different phase of life. At your age and knowledge level there are many worthwhile areas to continue to exert influence and recieve satisfaction. Or, perhaps it is time to be selfish and play a while. We never know how many days we will have the sunshine left. Being charitable at the end of our days is nice. Being good to ourselves is also nice. Perhaps you can do some of each?

Welcome aboard and enjoy this time like floating in a pool for a spell. It is your option to jump in or saunter back out.
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Old 05-28-2008, 11:42 PM   #5
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Welcome!

Personally, if this happened to me and I was in your shoes, I would flip the company the middle digit and walk away after the way they treated me.
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Old 05-29-2008, 12:01 AM   #6
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It's past time to leave your present position, and you apparently have the financial means to do so. So, do it ... FIRE and enjoy the next 20+ years doing the kinds of things that you really enjoy.
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Old 05-29-2008, 04:57 AM   #7
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I agree with the others - tell them to take this job and shove it!
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:07 AM   #8
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That is a tough break. You sound like you want to continue working but staying in the legal field appears to be a bad option. You have sufficient money to retire so why not look for something completely different than what you are doing now. Pay level need not be a consideration.
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:09 AM   #9
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Sometimes only if a negative thing happens our mind gets unoccupied enough to explore other options.
It might be hard to give up your job but you will have to give up the best part of it anyhow, even if you stay.

Was the offer of the other job withdrawn or is it still an option?
How much of your social life is depending on having this (or any other) job?
You might consider to work with a career specialist / outplacement consultant to evaluate other options that you might have in areas where your job misfortune does not count as much.

Good luck!
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:41 AM   #10
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I can not figure out what you really desire - it is not clear in your post and I would guess it isn't clear to you.

My gut tells me that if the demotion didn't happen you would have gone into the recruiting job and you really would like to go in that direction - not your current firm. If that is the case than, my advise would be to put your efforts into that area. Although, you mention what happened will follow you; I do not think it would be important to a recruiting firm (they may use it to negociate a lower salary for you). A career advisor or someone with HR experience may be able to help you spin it properly.

I'm guessing that the recruiting job appeals to you because you would be able to share your years of experience, knowledge and advise with the recruiting firm, the candidates. The personal interaction would be rewarding in a way contracts are not.

What happened at the firm may have put the retirement bug in your mind but, I don't think you are ready. Your post does not mention positive reasons for doing it and what you would like to do after you stop working.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:00 AM   #11
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Bayer, I think if I were you I'd quit. You could spend years "rehabilitating", at the end of which you'll retire anyway. Find work your like, or a cause you want to support, or retire and start catching up. Move this sad incident into history.

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Old 05-29-2008, 04:28 PM   #12
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Thanks

Thank you all for your feedbacks. There are many helpful answers.

Most rational people would choose to walk away now. I think my reason for choosing to stay working while I do not need to do so are self image and it was a profession I really had liked. I also hope to rehab myself so that my career did not end with such a sour note.

My present thought is that I should stay to see what action the state controlling agency would take. If there is a possibility of clearing my self professionally, I would see what kind of time frame it would take. I can then see whether a new professional opportunity would still be available and whether getting licensure in another state is possible then. I hope I would know those answers within 2 years. I do not plan to work for my firm beyond these 2 years. But I think I need to still be working professionally for them now for rehab in to remain a possibility. If there is no possibility of getting a meaningful job at the end of the 2 years, I would walk away then. I fully agree with Coach's observation that by the time I rehab myself professionally, I am close to the regular retirement age, ( regular retirement age in an ER forum?) and a rational choice actually would take the other fork in the road now.

I remember when I was in college, I took a job to clean up the football stadium the day after the football game. It was freezing, and everything stuck onto the seat or the floor by ice from the snowfall overnight. My fingers were freezing and getting numb from ripping up all those cups, papers and garbage. I was thinking about quitting right then. I was on a full scholarship that paid my tuition, room and board, and I did not need that 10 dollars for the 4 hours of work. I stuck it out and I was glad that I did not give up. Our action is not always rational.

I am only a mildly successful professional person, and I have some classmates in high school who had gone on to quite big things. One I was quite close to ended up as head of one of the major divisions of a a top multinational corporation. He had handsome financial rewards, prestige and power (and butler serviced lunch everyday in the executive private dining room). He walked away on his own violation 10 years ago to spend time with his family and had been a happy ER since. I repeatedly told him that I really admire his courage and his life priorities, and even though I had nowhere near the level of his professional success, I said I would have (and am having now) a hard time giving up my little plot of domain.

The other classmate I am thinking of rose to be a general in the armed services. He left the service in his early 50's and is now an international businessman. I always wonder whether walking away from such powerful position is difficult and had always want to chat with him about it.

Again, thanks for the feedbacks.
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Old 05-29-2008, 04:39 PM   #13
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The other classmate I am thinking of rose to be a general in the armed services. He left the service in his early 50's and is now an international businessman. I always wonder whether walking away from such powerful position is difficult and had always want to chat with him about it.
I thought that you were not yet convinced that retirement was your best option. A good thing to understand about yourself. I hope you are successful.

Re Generals and Admirals-what a huge power base they have! But they will always be General X or Admiral Y.

Most of us however are just Joe Schmuck if we walk away from work.

Ha
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:19 PM   #14
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Since it seems to be the fear of being seen as a nobody, or worse, a failure that is keeping you there, have you considered that your meekly accepting a demotion might appear to others that you have resigned yourself to that punishment because you were in the wrong?

If you are worried about the perception of others, remember, you are 60 yrs old and it probably seems odd to everyone that you didn't walk away with head held high. You are in an enviable financial position. By now the rumor mill could be churning out little gems like you are not prepared financially to leave. Then theý wonder why, that leads to your supposed drug, alcohol or gambling problems. Only you'd know if that's plausible in your circles, but in many jobs your situation would lend itself well to that type of garbage.

It's difficult to overcome office politics and working for 2 more years to be proven right (or not) to me seems like an awfully long time to be stubborn about this. Spend more time looking around the forum. It might help to ease what would be an unplanned and abrupt change for you.
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Old 05-29-2008, 06:05 PM   #15
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My present thought is that I should stay to see what action the state controlling agency would take. If there is a possibility of clearing my self professionally, I would see what kind of time frame it would take. I can then see whether a new professional opportunity would still be available and whether getting licensure in another state is possible then. I hope I would know those answers within 2 years. I do not plan to work for my firm beyond these 2 years. But I think I need to still be working professionally for them now for rehab in to remain a possibility. If there is no possibility of getting a meaningful job at the end of the 2 years, I would walk away then. I fully agree with Coach's observation that by the time I rehab myself professionally, I am close to the regular retirement age, ( regular retirement age in an ER forum?) and a rational choice actually would take the other fork in the road now.
If we were to meet I do not think we would relate very well. My perspective is that you ar 60 - 2 more years for a decision and then retirement at 65?
Don't take this the wrong way - your health will deteriorate and you will die and at that time will you say - "yes I am glad I worked those 5 years" If so go for it.

My guess is that you will be exposing yourself to a negative work enviorment that will affect you negatively.

As I said before you are not ready for retirement - not even really remotely near it - you have some unfinished business you need to deal with. Even after it is all over I'm not sure you will be ready for retirement.

I know this sounds harsh. I just hope you think about your priorities for where you are - 60+
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:53 PM   #16
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Old 05-30-2008, 02:20 AM   #17
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Things fell apart for me when one of the deals I was handling got botched. The clients were not happy. While I can dispute the whole sequence of events, my alleged fault and the actual damage, the firm decided one some had to fall on the sword to placate the clients.
If you are FI, who cares? If you feel personally wounded and are FI, why not just sockit-toem.
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Old 05-30-2008, 04:10 AM   #18
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Reading this again I wonder if this incident did not come handy to your firm.
At your age and experience one mistake, even if it really happened, should not wipe out years of good service.
But: do they have an advantage from your demotion or if you decide to leave?
You would not be the first of your age to be punished for a little issue, because the firm hopes that you walk out and leave bonus, pensions + seniority behind.
If this is the case and if you stay, they might even chase you for little things in future to have reasons to fire you.
Then your idea of working yourself up again is nothing more but wishful thinking. It just will not happen.

My dad lost his corporate management job at 56 due to some office politics. He did not find another job at a similar level. Even though my parents financially could cover the time till retirement, he became a very unhappy person and held deep resentment till his death at 79. He never became a happy retiree.
I learned from this not to allow any employer to become so important to me and my self image.
Take care!
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Old 05-30-2008, 07:45 AM   #19
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My dad lost his corporate management job at 56 due to some office politics. He did not find another job at a similar level. Even though my parents financially could cover the time till retirement, he became a very unhappy person and held deep resentment till his death at 79. He never became a happy retiree.

I learned from this not to allow any employer to become so important to me and my self image.
Take care!
How true (since this happened to me).

Company was "acquired" by another (3rd time since I was there). Lost my position/responsibilities and due to a lot of "other things" in my personal life, became very depressed.

It got to the point that I even acquired "professional help" (e.g. theripst). The company paid for the session, and since they (IMHO) were "responsible" for the "situation", I thought I would take advantage of the "benefit".

The result? Through a couple of sessions, I understood that the difficulities of the job were just part of the "whole story". That "life situations" that happened way before I even was employed by this company contributed to my current severe depression.

This was back in 2001. In 2007, I retired (at age 59). Today, I am happier than I would have ever thought possible. I do volunteer work and get more "personal satisfication" from a simple "thank you" from those who I "serve" than I ever received from my former job.

Things may seem bleak (to you) at this time. I certainly won't tell you what to do - that's something that you need to uncover for yourself. The only thing I'll say (based upon my experience) is that your current situation is "just a job" - nothing more - nothing less.

There is more to life than the current situation you are in. However, it will take some action on your part to determine what make sense, for you.

Take care,

- Ron
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:20 AM   #20
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Bayer, if I were in your shoes, I would do two things:

1) Consult an experienecd employment attorney. May be a blind alley, but it will help you make sure that you are not overly exposed to liability and you canexplore whether you have any remedy vs. your employer.

2) It doesn't sound like you have really decided what you want out of life. It is pretty clear to me that continuing on in your career is not a realistic option. You could try to slug along in the demoted slot, but you are unlikely to be happy doing so and you don't really have time to make much of any time you put in rehabilitating your career. Since you have ample funds, I would suggest you think about what you would like to do now that your career is effectively over. Travel, contemplate your navel, volunteer, pick up some new hobbies or interests, etc. I think you have been so career-focused that you haven't seriously thought about other options.
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