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Gone back to work and regretted it?
Old 01-25-2009, 12:06 PM   #1
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Gone back to work and regretted it?

About a week ago I went back to work after being retired for the previous 7 months (I've been semi-retired for the last 3-4 years, working on and off as the jobs appeared). I do computer programming as a contract worker and the company where I last worked at called me up and asked me to come back again. Since the recent market crash took a toll on my investment portfolio (down about 10% last year...it could've been worse...but I still have enough to be retired comfortably), I decided to go back to work. The first week I was very stressed out, had a hard time sleeping at night and was getting headaches almost every day. I do not enjoy the work and find that my patience for the corporate bulls--t is much lower than it used to be. Also, I think I had previously reached career burnout, but wasn't 100% sure about that. I think this confirms that I HAVE reached career burnout. I'm 52 years old and have been doing computer programming for about 28 years now. I think I'll give it a few more weeks on this job and if I'm still miserable, I think I'll throw in the towel on this career for good.

Anyway, I was just curious if others here had retired, then gone back to work in their same old career and found that they were miserable on their new job.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:46 PM   #2
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I don't know about the "going back" to work part, but for me I'm in the same job I have been in, working for the same company I have been working for, yet I see some of the same effects you describe. There a certain level of nonsense every day and while I have tolerated it well for many years, it recently seems like some threshold has been reached. Maybe I've used up all my tolerance? In any case, I notice that some new absurdity that I like to think I would have shrugged off in the past now bothers me a great deal. Whether it's burnout or just becoming sensitized, my internal stress is much higher each time. Kind of like the new incident doesn't just stand on it's own anymore but carries memories of all the other like incidents that preceded it. Maybe your time off wasn't enough to relax away those old associations? I recently took a little time off to help make a break, but it wasn't enough for me either.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:56 PM   #3
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I foolishly was talked into going back for one day a week after I retired . It sounded like easy money and how bad could one day be . It was a big mistake . I had worked in Nursing for almost 40 years and I was finally burned out . When I reretired I knew this was it . I was done with nursing . I could not listen to the constant complaing from some of my co-workers without wanting to scream . Plus I had no desire to work 10 -12 hour shifts or get up at 5:15 am anymore . So I retired and have never looked back .
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:10 PM   #4
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When I was young and started new jobs, I was always raring to go and happy to start but now, after arranging my retirement finances and being free for five months, going back to work would be a nightmare. I, too, worked (about a year) beyond the burn-out stage. If I want to imagine something really ugly I can visualize my old desk after a one-week vacation, piled up three feet with work, the hottest deadlines center stage on the desk.
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:39 PM   #5
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Anyway, I was just curious if others here had retired, then gone back to work in their same old career and found that they were miserable on their new job.
Well, it didn't happen to me--but to my DH. His work environment was awful, and people were leaving left and right. About a month after he retired, he was asked back for a bit. Turned out, that 11 of 16 positions were vacant, and the new boss was desperate for anyone with experience. So DH negotiated the same pay grade as before, and since the job required travel, he got to pick the best spots to go to.
On Monday morning of the first week, DH was already bummed out--"This is a really stupid idea" he practically sobbed as he trudged out the door. It was awful. He had zero patience for anything, and quit after I think 5 miserable weeks.
I think it is really hard to go back to a job you've quit--if I ever think of laboring for money again, I'll pick something entirely different than my last job.
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:45 PM   #6
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I've gotten pretty close, but no cigar, TG. I had some real financial challenges last year due to a delay in my annuity check startup (from April FIRE to July when 1st check received) along with both property and school taxes coming due.
I actually did apply for a few part time jobs (Lowes, Home Depot),
totally unrelated to my previous c*reer (Engineer). I was not hired. I wonder if I was overqualified ?
I would rather eat overcooked beef liver everyday for a year than ever return to a j*b in my field. Enough is enough is enough...
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:31 PM   #7
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I'm thinking about it, and not because I need the money. I hope it might be fun.

I've had 2 'careers' in my life. First 10 years a farmer, then the technical side of mainframes. About 20 years before I retired I moved from technical work to management. I found the mega-corp BS was on the management side. However it paid well and stock options allowed me to RE.

Since retiring, I've spent spring and fall (maybe 3-4 weeks total) helping my nephew on the farm. Driving tractors and combines is mindless but gives you a chance to be alone and think. As well, today, they have air conditioning and auto transmissions. Recently, a colleague at mega-corp asked if I was interested in some pure technical work for a month or two. Way back when this was my job, I loved my job. If the project goes ahead, I'll give it a try. It's not a life sentence.
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:56 PM   #8
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I recently finished a 6 week part-time project for my old employer and it wasn't bad. I was able to do it out of my house, so that made it nice. The extra money will pay for my country clubs dues for the year and will pay for some repair work I need having done to my house. So glad for that, but not planning on doing it again anytime soon.
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:25 PM   #9
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I recently finished a 6 week part-time project for my old employer and it wasn't bad. I was able to do it out of my house, so that made it nice.
I think that's the key. If you can dictate the conditions and the duration, it won't seem so onerous. If I were to RE now, there is NO WAY I would agree to return to all the multifaceted responsibilities (and no perqs whatsoever) of my job. I can take it now because it's leading the organization somewhere I want it to go. In the absence of that goal, drudgery and long hours wouldn't cut it.
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:21 PM   #10
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I have been a stay at home dad/Early Retired for the last 5 years. I got a call a few months ago about a job in my old career field (IT). An old co-worker had moved on to another job, and the place he was working had lost one of their employees, and needed somebody for a couple months to cover some of the load and help train somebody from the help-desk into this area as a Junior Unix Admin. They want to promote internal to this position and start a career path for one of the help-desk people. That sounds like a worthy cause and I told them I'd help out for a while, since the job sounded like fun.

Two of the people I'm working with I've known for 15+ years. I've been working there now for about 3 months. I'm having the time of my live, its been a total blast. I figure I can keep having fun for about 9 more months. After that I suspect I'll begin to get bored. (Who knows, maybe not, but I feel the twinges of boredom sometimes even now, the "I've seen this problem before, you solve it by doing X").

I love the hunt of new things, hardware/software, the problems are still new and exciting to me. Getting to work on hardware that I wouldn't even dream of owning at home is fun. I suspect around the 12-18 month mark I will find the environment boring and "limited". This place has some cool things about it, but over all, their data center could condensed into 1000SF or so... We don't get to do any network stuff (different group), no windows stuff (different group)... All we do is manage Unix boxes, which I've been doing since 1989. 99% of problems today I've seen something similar or even identical. Not much new happens anymore. Problems have gotten very easy to solve. Its the same old problem with a twist.

I did find when I first went back I was stressed and worried (haven't done a lot of hardcore IT stuff for 5 years). I got back into it fairly quickly though. It took about 5-6 weeks before I felt comfortable with the "routine"... I don't like change. So if you do go back after leaving for awhile, I'd give it a bit of time to see if it works for you before throwing out the baby with the bathwater type of thing.

Having the freedom to quit if I'm not happy makes being happy a lot easier. I don't let the "annoying" things bother me. I just smile and wave... smile and wave... maybe that's weird, but it works for me.

An example, that back in the pre ER days would have bothered me: I've been there almost 3 months working for an IT company, and I still can't get into their online time-sheet system. I have to do it by paper. My boss is annoyed and frustrated that they can't get it together at the "corporate office". Every time I think about it I just grin. Almost start laughing out loud... its so funny, that a company that makes its money doing IT services can't even get its own time-sheet application to work for a new employee for 3 months... okay, I've started to LOL... cracks me up. Doesn't bother me at all, if they want to pay me to manually fill out a time-sheet, what do I care.

It also helps that I am only doing 25 hours a week. If I was doing full time I suspect I would just get bored faster.


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Old 01-26-2009, 11:02 AM   #11
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About six years after I left my job at MegaCorp, my former boss tried to get me to come back to work for a six month assignment. At first I thought it just might be ok. Then the red tape and b.s. started regarding hiring me again.

I quickly remembered one of the reasons I left my job....b.s..... I told him, no thanks.
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:27 AM   #12
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I have been a stay at home dad/Early Retired for the last 5 years. I got a call a few months ago about a job in my old career field (IT). An old co-worker had moved on to another job, and the place he was working had lost one of their employees, and needed somebody for a couple months to cover some of the load and help train somebody from the help-desk into this area as a Junior Unix Admin. They want to promote internal to this position and start a career path for one of the help-desk people. That sounds like a worthy cause and I told them I'd help out for a while, since the job sounded like fun.

Two of the people I'm working with I've known for 15+ years. I've been working there now for about 3 months. I'm having the time of my live, its been a total blast. I figure I can keep having fun for about 9 more months. After that I suspect I'll begin to get bored. (Who knows, maybe not, but I feel the twinges of boredom sometimes even now, the "I've seen this problem before, you solve it by doing X").

I love the hunt of new things, hardware/software, the problems are still new and exciting to me. Getting to work on hardware that I wouldn't even dream of owning at home is fun. I suspect around the 12-18 month mark I will find the environment boring and "limited". This place has some cool things about it, but over all, their data center could condensed into 1000SF or so... We don't get to do any network stuff (different group), no windows stuff (different group)... All we do is manage Unix boxes, which I've been doing since 1989. 99% of problems today I've seen something similar or even identical. Not much new happens anymore. Problems have gotten very easy to solve. Its the same old problem with a twist.

I did find when I first went back I was stressed and worried (haven't done a lot of hardcore IT stuff for 5 years). I got back into it fairly quickly though. It took about 5-6 weeks before I felt comfortable with the "routine"... I don't like change. So if you do go back after leaving for awhile, I'd give it a bit of time to see if it works for you before throwing out the baby with the bathwater type of thing.

Having the freedom to quit if I'm not happy makes being happy a lot easier. I don't let the "annoying" things bother me. I just smile and wave... smile and wave... maybe that's weird, but it works for me.

An example, that back in the pre ER days would have bothered me: I've been there almost 3 months working for an IT company, and I still can't get into their online time-sheet system. I have to do it by paper. My boss is annoyed and frustrated that they can't get it together at the "corporate office". Every time I think about it I just grin. Almost start laughing out loud... its so funny, that a company that makes its money doing IT services can't even get its own time-sheet application to work for a new employee for 3 months... okay, I've started to LOL... cracks me up. Doesn't bother me at all, if they want to pay me to manually fill out a time-sheet, what do I care.

It also helps that I am only doing 25 hours a week. If I was doing full time I suspect I would just get bored faster.


Laters,
-d.
Congrats on a nice transition. You are making it work for you.

Ha
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:46 PM   #13
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All we do is manage Unix boxes, which I've been doing since 1989. 99% of problems today I've seen something similar or even identical. Not much new happens anymore. Problems have gotten very easy to solve. Its the same old problem with a twist.

I did find when I first went back I was stressed and worried (haven't done a lot of hardcore IT stuff for 5 years). I got back into it fairly quickly though. It took about 5-6 weeks before I felt comfortable with the "routine"... I don't like change. So if you do go back after leaving for awhile, I'd give it a bit of time to see if it works for you before throwing out the baby with the bathwater type of thing.
This is one of the things I would worry about. I've been out of my field (network security/Unix admin) for about 3 years now. Solaris has had a major release (version 10) with big changes in the OS since I quit doing admin, and security is a moving target anyway. I'd find it very difficult to jump back in and be anywhere near the level I was at before. That's why I was thinking if I went back into the work force I would probably try something completely new. Of course, I wouldn't get paid much for that, so I guess I'll just stay FIREd.
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Old 01-26-2009, 06:38 PM   #14
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I actually did apply for a few part time jobs (Lowes, Home Depot), totally unrelated to my previous c*reer (Engineer). I was not hired. I wonder if I was overqualified ?
Geez, this is kinda scary. I always thought I could get a retail job if worst came to worst. I think they would view me much as they did you -older and overqualified.
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Old 01-26-2009, 06:47 PM   #15
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Geez, this is kinda scary. I always thought I could get a retail job if worst came to worst. I think they would view me much as they did you -older and overqualified.
Um...I was only 49 yo when I applied. I was looking for short term or call-in basis, thinking that would be a bonus for them, plus I didn't need any health benefits.
I personally think they got a little freaked out about my rocket scientist and auto/small engine mechanic background. Things run a bit in reverse time warp in my local 1 horse town.
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:31 PM   #16
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Um...I was only 49 yo when I applied. I was looking for short term or call-in basis, thinking that would be a bonus for them, plus I didn't need any health benefits.
I personally think they got a little freaked out about my rocket scientist and auto/small engine mechanic background. Things run a bit in reverse time warp in my local 1 horse town.
I think the feeling is that overqualified applicants might sow discord in the ranks. And they might.

ha
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:47 PM   #17
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I think the feeling is that overqualified applicants might sow discord in the ranks. And they might.

ha
Yea, I think you have a point Ha. Could you imagine the two of us working at the local Wal-Mart? Now that would be trouble
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Old 01-27-2009, 01:18 AM   #18
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Since the recent market crash took a toll on my investment portfolio (down about 10% last year...it could've been worse...but I still have enough to be retired comfortably), I decided to go back to work. The first week I was very stressed out, had a hard time sleeping at night and was getting headaches almost every day. I do not enjoy the work and find that my patience for the corporate bulls--t is much lower than it used to be. Also, I think I had previously reached career burnout, but wasn't 100% sure about that. I think this confirms that I HAVE reached career burnout. I'm 52 years old and have been doing computer programming for about 28 years now. I think I'll give it a few more weeks on this job and if I'm still miserable, I think I'll throw in the towel on this career for good.
Though I was in a different field, my age and years of experience are almost the same as yours. We also share the same feelings toward megacorp BS. It is actually quite common amongst ER'ers, at least the ones posting here.

However, I note that your 10% loss is quite light compared to most others. I do not mean to scare anybody, but what it gets worse? I believe people's pain threshold is highly flexible. If I find myself in more dire financial straits, I believe I would be glad to get a job in my former field to earn some money again.

Human capacity for pain is very elastic. I have learned to take a more lighthearted approach to life now. As long as I do not develop an incurable disease, it is not hopeless. If I need to, I can relearn to thrive as a mushroom in a Dilbert environment. So far so good in ER for me.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:07 AM   #19
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After five years of retirement from a 29-year law enforcement career I went back to work for a contractor to the federal gummint doing armed security. It's one of those places where they will shoot you if you try to get inside w/o authorization.

The work is not very exciting, but after 18 years as a patrol officer I had my fill of excitement. I usually work four days a week, the pay is slightly less than what I was making before I retired, and the ~$3k a month net is all play money. Most of the security people are either retired police officers or current ones supplementing their incomes. As one retired guy put it, "Never in my life have I been paid so much to do so little".

One of the discoveries I made about retirement is that the old saw about needing 80% of pre-retirement income to maintain the same standard of living is nonsense. Since one then has all that free time, and even driving to a local park costs something in gas money, it is better to have about 120% of pre-retirement income. We're spending about half and saving the other half of the additional income, and I'll work there until I don't feel like working there anymore.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:58 AM   #20
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One of the discoveries I made about retirement is that the old saw about needing 80% of pre-retirement income to maintain the same standard of living is nonsense. Since one then has all that free time, and even driving to a local park costs something in gas money, it is better to have about 120% of pre-retirement income.
Definitely true on the cost angle. Even the IRS agrees that it costs about 50 cents per mile to operate a car. And I don't think they are talking about BMW 7 series either.

Pleasantly occupying time in ER without spending a lot of money can be something of a challenge.

Ha
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