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Job Burnout and Retirement Fears
Old 07-09-2019, 12:36 PM   #1
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Job Burnout and Retirement Fears

Just venting here folks, but the collective wisdom of this group is welcome. I am sure I'm not alone in this matter. I am not an early retiree; the plan is to retire at 65, and I'm turning 63 shortly. So effectively two more years on the job. My finances are in good order, but the financial plan in terms of home improvements and potential travel pretty much necessitates working until 65.


After 32 years in this workplace (a variety of positions over the years) I had my first relatively upsetting performance review today where I was told my communication style needs improvement, that my e-mails to several people this year were "curt" and feelings were hurt. (Unfortunately I work in an area of mainly women, and one hurt feeling is never forgotten.)



I realize that I am pretty burnt out, have nothing to gain (no promotions left; nothing exciting in terms of responsibilities coming down the pike), and have let down my guard at times because of this, especially in the face of the usual nonsense swirling around. Still, I work with all sorts of people all the time and the "he said/she said" stuff when I've evidently rubbed one or two people wrong during the year due to tone is hard to take. Part of me badly wants to just say, "this is no longer worth my time or mental health; I'm out of here."



But I'm also scared of retirement as I honestly don't know yet what I'm going to "do." I don't have a family, I do have friends that like to do lunches or movies, but I feel any earlier passion in life has been ground down to a nub due to having little to no time for it during my working life. I don't know how to find it again--or even what it is.



So I'm trying to figure out how to survive two more years of pettiness among colleagues on the one hand and sheer boredom on the other. I feel lousy for even saying this, to a degree, because this has actually been a good place to work for many years and it has generally been good to me. When I go out, however, it will be with a whimper and not a bang. Was I expecting to come to the end of my career with a bang? I don't know, but I've seen all sorts of people whimper out of here after a long and successful career and are never given another thought. That's sad.


And then there's the fear of the next step that also at this point seems to be looming emptiness. I just can't yet envision it.



I guess if you didn't notice I have a little pity party going on right now. I've had some health issues recently (surgery) that cause me daily amounts of pain and lack of sleep, and I'm sure if I could see myself objectively I'd understand this was coming into play. Any advice or encouragement is welcome to poor pitiful me.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:48 PM   #2
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Pain, lack of sleep and a bad review are all things that are hard to deal with on their own, and the fact you're dealing with all three at once make it a lot harder.

I think you need to take it easy on yourself, you deserve a pity party.

I highly recommend looking into therapy, there's lots of workplaces that offer EAP counseling for free. I think you have some understandable anxieties about quitting work, and with the work environment you have, it could be easy to get depressed.

Longer term, I think you need to start trying out hobbies that you might enjoy that you can transition to in retirement. If you have interests outside of work, it's easier to check out mentally, while still going to work physically.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:53 PM   #3
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We expend a lot of energy when we are in pain making it harder to deal with trivialities and stupid people. Why don't you look into some type of FMLA or other way to start cutting back your hours so you can get more rest and also to give you time to look into developing some interests outside of work.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:59 PM   #4
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My DW had similar thoughts when closing in on retirement. She ended up retiring a few months earlier than our plan. Run your numbers again. It might be time. I have found that as the assets increase our tolerance for work decreases. It took my DW a couple of years to unwind and find her next life. Five years in, and it seems like I rarely see her. She is gone this week with a group of women to the lake. They took a lot of wine. I did not ask questions.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:14 PM   #5
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Been in my career for 35 years now, including 22 years at one particular company. I was an individual contributor for all but the last 15 years, when I've been in management. I've both laid off people and been laid off multiple times now.


Mostly I got good reviews, even in the years where I was laid off. But occasionally, I'd get an odd-ball somewhat negative review from what seemed like left field. My experience from both sides of the desk:
1. Don't take it personally. Don't for a minute think that reviews are 100% objective documents. They simply aren't and can't be. These are humans reviewing humans.
2. Oftentimes a boss feels compelled to write something negative - after all, everybody has something they need to improve upon, right? Doesn't matter whether you agree with it or not, it's what the boss is perceiving. And if the boss has to do 7 or 10 of these things each year, then keeping up the energy to put something useful into them can be a challenge, to say the least.
3. Oftentimes bosses are forced to rate and/or rank his/her employees. If rating, sometimes there can be a forced distribution. When that happens, everybody can't have the highest ratings and they're often forced to put a certain number of people in the bottom bins. When that happens, boss's generally want to have some supporting verbage in the documentation supporting the low rating. Doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad employee - it just means that in the boss's eyes, there are some better than you. And if ranking, well, there is almost always somebody better than you and worse than you.


Again, I've been doing this for a long time. Frankly, it's one of the worst things about being a manager, especially when things are forced upon you with distributions and rankings. Having a system that forces a separation of performance numerically between employees, even if the differences aren't really measurable sucks. And it completely ignores whether, in an absolute sense, an employee would be an outstanding employee anywhere else.


Anyway, I agree with some of the advice above about using your company's EAP, if it has it, or to seek some outside counseling. This is a blip in an otherwise rewarding career and you're most likely a lot stronger than you might think right now.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:19 PM   #6
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My go-to solution for difficult people is to turn to my behavioral science background. I start thinking in terms of abnormal psychology or group dysfunction case studies. Some people call it "Jane Goodall mode", as you live among them and observe their odd behavior but you are still an outsider making observations. It helps a lot when I'm taking things too personally.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marita40 View Post

After 32 years in this workplace (a variety of positions over the years) I had my first relatively upsetting performance review today where I was told my communication style needs improvement, that my e-mails to several people this year were "curt" and feelings were hurt. (Unfortunately I work in an area of mainly women, and one hurt feeling is never forgotten.)
Was there any message to improve your style "or else"? As big-papa says, sometimes they just want to include something negative for balance. Unless you were told your job is in danger because of it, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. If you're inclined to, reread your e-mails for curtness and correct if possible. Or not. You don't have to leave because someone doesn't like your style. Your attitude can be "This is who I've become in this environment. Deal with it. Or change the environment."

I've found as you get closer and closer, petty things were easier to let roll off my back. Hopefully your health is improving and maybe that will make things easier to take? If there's anything I'd focus on, it'd be the health issues. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:33 PM   #8
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Also, I can't recommend Ask A Manager highly enough. She gives great advice about all kinds of workplace issues (more management and co-worker issues, which is one part of your problem), and the commenting community is probably the best one on the web after this one!
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:37 PM   #9
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In your shoes, I would be concerned about the review. The complaints are very petty. Does your company have a history of pushing out people as they approach retirement?

On the other hand, does the company offer packages to get people to leave a year or two early? If so, I would start nosing around to see if one could be made available to help you decide.

Re-run those numbers so you know your bottom line in any negotiation...
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:43 PM   #10
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After 32 years in this workplace (a variety of positions over the years) I had my first relatively upsetting performance review today where I was told my communication style needs improvement, that my e-mails to several people this year were "curt" and feelings were hurt.
Was this news "sprung" on you at your performance review or had you some prior warning from your manager/director/admin that he or she felt there was an issue?

If it came as a surprise to you, shame on that individual for dropping it on you in this manner.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:49 PM   #11
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I look forward to reading about your journey to your retirement. Check those numbers. You may already have enough to call it quits.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:50 PM   #12
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So effectively two more years on the job. My finances are in good order, but the financial plan in terms of home improvements and potential travel pretty much necessitates working until 65.

After 32 years in this workplace (a variety of positions over the years) I had my first relatively upsetting performance review today where I was told my communication style needs improvement
I can't really offer any advice, but was struck by the similarity with my wife's situation. Like you she has worked 30+ years with the same organization, always worked hard with great reviews. Then suddenly after a surgery, blood clot, and a car accident her employer put her on a performance improvement plan for a very minor offense. Like you, our financial plan necessitates that we work another 3-4 years before we can retire.

After weighing options to stick it out or try to find other jobs, we opted to stick it out and see where it goes. It took a few weeks to get past the fears and concerns, but so far everything is proceeding well with her plan. Obviously, things could change at a moments notice, but it's looking more hopeful.

We're hoping she can just continue in her current job until we can retire. Unfortunately, it probably won't be the smooth graceful exit we had hoped for, with well wishing at the end. But, that's probably for the best, allowing her to just cut all ties when her time is done.

Hang in there, I hope things get better for you!
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:59 PM   #13
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If you work for a public employer it can take up to 2 years to get rid of someone.
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:00 PM   #14
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I appreciate the responses. I should clarify that the actual performance review is not of a concern: I have tenure (this, alas, is academia; I moved from a faculty position a number of years ago to an administrative one) and they can't let me go until I'm ready to retire (the usual way to get rid of people in my position is to "reconfigure" the office, but that won't happen in the next two years). So, yeah, it means little but my pride I guess (which evidently is considerable). And someone asked above whether the particular incidences were brought to my attention when they happened. No they weren't, and the person reviewing me wasn't even in the particular situations, one of which happened a full year ago, so had no idea about the context, etc, but only dunned me on what was reported to her. I did emphatically call her on this, and just got the promise that "next time" I offend someone they'll let me know immediately (!)


I'm much more concerned about the burn out which I see is now affecting my job for the first time. I really really just don't care much anymore--and it is evidently now showing.
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:02 PM   #15
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Marita40 - Why 65? Do you have enough saved up that you could resign and retire if you want? What makes you think that you'll have a better idea of what you want to do in retirement in 2 years?
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:06 PM   #16
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I can commiserate with you. I had the same situation where I was by far the highest paid member of my group, and got no raise the last two years because they gave the money to the other members of the group.
I waited just long enough for my profit sharing to be deposited in my 401K in January then bailed.
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:33 PM   #17
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I can truly appreciate what you wrote. I was not in a good place mentally when I left, total burnout. Perhaps borderline depression? I had planned on going at 57 but jumped at 56. I did meet with my Fidelity guy and he gave me great advice on how much or little a year is worth to savings.

I was absolutely terrified, I knew the week after I retired the market would crash worse than 2008. I knew I had slipped a decimal point in my calculations and I would be unable to get work. I knew I would be bored to death.

Six years later I realize how irrational I was and am so happy I've had this time. Perhaps there is a way?
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:55 PM   #18
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How about a stay-cation sort of thing, where you get away from the job for a week or better yet two weeks, stay home, rest, get your sleep cycle back on track and perhaps find new ways to deal with the pain, and also after a few days rest, get started on planning your life after retirement, maybe even try a few things, hobbies, volunteering, travel planning, that you may want to do.
Then go back to work for a month or two, decide if there is any way you can accept that situation with less psychic suffering than you have now. if not, go ahead and retire if the finances allow.
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Old 07-09-2019, 03:01 PM   #19
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the plan is to retire at 65, and I'm turning 63 shortly.

After 32 years in this workplace (a variety of positions over the years) I had my first relatively upsetting performance review today
First one in 32 years? You haven't been trying hard enough!

Quote:
But I'm also scared of retirement as I honestly don't know yet what I'm going to "do." I don't have a family, I do have friends that like to do lunches or movies, but I feel any earlier passion in life has been ground down to a nub due to having little to no time for it during my working life. I don't know how to find it again--or even what it is.
start working on that.

Quote:
So I'm trying to figure out how to survive two more years of pettiness among colleagues on the one hand and sheer boredom on the other.
I found that when the end was clearly in sight, it was far easier to ignore the nonsense, go home each night, and not worry.

Quote:
And then there's the fear of the next step that also at this point seems to be looming emptiness.
It doesn't have to be that way.

Think about what makes you happy. Think about how you could get to do more of that, perhaps even every day.

Some have hobbies. Some like to travel. Some like to volunteer. Some like to work in a role they would enjoy, once they no longer have to worry if it isn't lucrative.

To be blunt - stop with the pity. You have it far better than most people. You are going to be able to do whatever you want in 2 years. Many folks will never be able to do that.

So end the pity party, sit down and figure what you want to do, then plan for the time in 2 years when you can do it!
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Old 07-09-2019, 03:05 PM   #20
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mamadogmamacat, a stay-cation sounds great--and vacation sounds great--BUT I just came back to work this week from 7 weeks disability for rotator cuff surgery. As anyone who has had this knows, it is painful and difficult not only for weeks but many months, and I'm far from healed yet although I was cleared to go back to work. So no vacations in sight for awhile and, in fact, since I'm an office of one, much of my work just piled up waiting for me...


I think it is a good idea to take a serious look at my finances, especially with the market doing so well (is it today? haven't looked), and see what might be done in terms of an earlier retirement. I already signed the contract for some major house remodeling to occur this fall, and then there's health care, so that's part of the mix of planning to retire at 65.
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