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Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-18-2004, 06:40 PM   #1
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Retirement vs Perfect Job

I am close enough to ER to smell it and it smells sweet. I've been in the corporate world for a long time and it's wearing poorly on me. Some of us identify work and corporate world as being one and the same. Today I was talking with co-workers about ER. The question was, assuming relatively comfortable retirement income at say 55, or being offered a low paying job at something of great personal interest and possibly working several years longer, which would you pick. (The question is not out of my realm of possibilities).

The "continue to work option" would provide some self-fulfillment value and the structure of employment, plus a little cushion for the bad years of investment prospects. The down side would be the loss of time freedom and the fact that you would still be a wage slaver to anothers calling.

Perhaps more of a philosophical vs realistic discussion, as those "perfect" jobs are rare. But also not totally out the many possibilities.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-18-2004, 07:21 PM   #2
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Ahhhhh. . . the low stress, spiritually satisfying job that is so relaxing and rewarding that it keeps you from minding the fact that you are working those extra years.

About ten years ago while I was gracelessly slogging my way up the corporate ladder, the same thought occured to me. The appeal was so great that I began to hunt for this mythical beast. I spent about two years stalking job choices. Any time I would run accross someone who had a job that I thought might qualify, I would dig a little deeper and try to figure out if it were the new career I was looking for. What I found was a lot of people who were unhappy with their job and looking for a career that would be less stressful and more rewarding.

Certainly I also found happy people . . . in every career I examined. And that is the secret of the enchanted career forest. You -- not your job -- are responsible for your happiness. If your drive to achieve success is bringing you stress in your current job, it will probably follow you into your new career as care giver, educator, or Catcher in the Rye.

Maybe you will be a better hunter in the enchanted career forest than I was. But before you make that leap, you probably need to get specific. What job do you think will provide reward without stress? Pick a few candidates and discuss them.

Jeeeez, have I become too cynical?
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-18-2004, 07:27 PM   #3
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

I think by definition the perfect job is one you'd leave retirement for.

To me the perfect job is doing what I would have been doing otherwise and getting paid for it. And, thankfully, that happens occassionally. In fact, one thing that enabled my early retirement was a hobby of mine that turned into a business that I ultimately sold.

I can tell you though that your idea of the perfect job is likely to change with time. Not only that, but the mere act of doing something you love to do in the context of work is likely to kill that love.
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Re:  Retirement IS the perfect job!
Old 02-18-2004, 10:39 PM   #4
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Re:  Retirement IS the perfect job!

I enjoyed the heck out of my job for the first 14 years, but then starting a family created such a conflict that I could hardly wait for the next 10 years to pass to reach the ER goal.

I've been told (by my working friends!) that the reason I'm ER'd is because I've never found that dream career-- the one where you lose yourself in the job, where time stands still, where you can't believe you're getting PAID to do this. (Maybe my friends need to try the ER lifestyle for a couple months and then discuss this subject again.)

Yet I DID have that "dream career"!! We just "screwed it up" by starting a family & distracting ourselves from our 100-hour workweeks. Although a family is not always as pleasant or as easy as a 100-hour workweek, it's turned to be much more fulfilling.

I've had several job offers since ER, and the truth is that I could happily take any of them-- particularly the ones where I get to stand up in front of a crowd of motivated adults and teach them how to do what I enjoyed so much. "Satisfiers" are everywhere.

However, ER has better satisfiers, and another career has so many more dissatisfiers. The first & foremost satisfier is that in ER I never have to choose between family & work. Dissatisfiers make up the rest of the list. Second is the workplace uniform-- I'm much more comfortable now and I don't need to dress for success to "prove" that I know what I'm doing. Third is the commute-- I'd love the job if it started in my livingroom, but there's too much overhead to get to the fun part. Fourth is the schedule disruption, especially on high-surf days.

Fifth-- oh, yeah, we don't need the money... that's killed a lot of great job offers. (So is that a satisfier or dissatisfier?) Spouse has also pointed out that once I start working at a "dream job", I'd feel the need to qualify for the next level. Then I'd want to take on a new challenge or two. Next I'd want to reach a stretch goal... and before you know it I'd be working again.

I feel quite well-adapted to ER's "self-employment". But anytime I realize that I could make money out of a pleasurable activity, there's the worrisome prospect of ruining a good hobby by trying to produce cash flow. Now if I could get paid to surf the Internet and compose a page or two of daily wisdom... ah, but it'd have to be without deadlines!

And so it goes. I think that the structure of work is for those who can't handle the freestyle of ER.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 03:57 AM   #5
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Good thoughts and all seeming to say ER is better. *I studied the natural sciences in school due to a love of the outdoors. *For the last twenty-some years I've been trapped inside a factory with only enough windows to look outside at lunch time. *I've pretty much enjoyed all of my working time, but it is not the perfect job. *My thoughts for ER retirment "employment" have been seasonal work for the Parks Service or possibly working for someone like the Nature Conservancy. *I don't have a family at home, so devoting time to home life is not huge on my list.

I was raised with the traditional strong work ethic and taught that our life is one of service to others. *I sometimes wonder if ER can be a little "me" oriented. * I know there are many ways to satisfy these things without getting back into the work world. * Interesting to hear how others thinnk of these things.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 04:34 AM   #6
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Quote:
*I sometimes wonder if ER can be a little "me" oriented. *
I have a basic problem with that too -- especially with people who are trying to figure out ways to retire by the time they are 35 or some such ridiculously young age.

I believe that people should have the right to retire whenever they want, but as I have said in a number of posts, it is becoming ever more contrary to the national economic interest for people to be retiring early -- especially if they become "totally" retired and don't perform some sort of socially useful service. Whether they get paid for it or is not too critical, although I am actually in favor of paying retirees for many of the services that they do on a "volunteer" basis, both as a matter of fairness to them, and to induce more of them to participate.

I think that this country needs to substantially reform its attitudes towards retirement -- many of which are written into laws and employment contracts. The ultimate goal should be one of encouraging people to gradually cut back on their hours worked, but to extend their working years farther into the future on a part-time basis. That will certainly involve a reduction in annual income, and may also involve a reduction in hourly pay. That is something that should be determined by the labor market -- not something that is legislated.

If people can extend their working years by starting a new type of work that they find more satisfying, that is wonderful! And this can be encouraged by older people making a voluntary effort to do business with other older people who do this.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 05:31 AM   #7
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

I'm curious as to why you think 35 is a ridiculous age to retire. If the person was productive enough in the preceeding 15 years of his or her life to be able to afford early retirement, then by definition they have contributed more to the economy than someone who as worked to 65 but not been able to earn enough to retire. Surely everyone deserves to pursue their own individual definition of happiness without being ridiculed about the age they do something (or nothing, in the case of retirement).
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 05:39 AM   #8
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Quote:
*I sometimes wonder if ER can be a little "me" oriented.
I mentioned in another thread that as the bulk of the population reached the "standard" retirement age without adequate provision, we would start to see comments such as this about ER. Mark my words, in 10 years time people who FIRE will be seen as pariahs and social leeches who are not "fully" contributing to the economy.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 05:49 AM   #9
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Left handed INTJ here(29 yrs R&D in another life).

By reading the posts on this forum - am I adding to my intellectual capital, goofing off in retirement, working to improve my retirement portfolio management, doing volunteer work? Jobs and retirement labels might need some redefinition. Some of 'work' posted under investment strategies - is fun(not paid) but would be if done 'for salary'.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 07:47 AM   #10
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

By being totally FIRE'd you still contribute greatly to society. You are taking care of your self so that someone else doesn't have to (welfare). Also you will probably have your money invested somewhere, so you are lending capital to companies and government for their chosen endeavors.

Unfortunately I'm not FIRE'd so I have to cut this post short and get back to work!

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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 07:47 AM   #11
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Quote:
* I'll sacrifice working at 'the perfect job' so that someone else can support their family and their own eventual retirement. *
And I'll bet that you are proud of making the "sacrifice" of eating the meals that your wife cooks for you.

Perhaps you should consider taking a course in economics, because your idea that people are doing a favor to society by consuming rather than producing is absolute economic idiocy.

I recognize people's right to become non-productive consumers, but I can't think of a single person whom I admire in American history who had the attitude that "Well, I've made my stash and now I can sit back and let the country run itself." I'm sure glad that George Washington didn't, for example.

I have the legal right to ridicule people who want to "drop out" because the same Constitution that gives them the right to do that also gives me the right to ridicule it. It's a tradition for us Missourians that was upheld most nobly by Mark Twain and Harry Truman. And I also feel that I have the moral right to do so because I put my life on the line for this country by voluntarily serving in the Army back in 1966 - 1968 when I had a perfectly legal, respectable, and even lucrative way of avoiding military service.

So you can drop out and spend your time sitting around watching TV, smoking pot, gambling, or watching porno films for all I care. Just don't expect me to admire you for it.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 08:08 AM   #12
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

The idea that there is some civic or economic duty to work is absurd. Once you have enough to meet your family's basic needs for life, you're done, regardless of how you got there. You're free to pursue life, liberty, happiness, and whatever else floats your boat.

To continue working when you no longer have to is neurotic at best, and is an irresponsible waste of finite resources in most cases. Productivity comes at a cost, and as a nation we both produce and consume too much.

We're the pioneers of the kinder, gentler economy. Mandatory retirement at 35. Frugal and sustainable consumption. Only high-value production. Utopia
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 08:43 AM   #13
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Ted:

Wow!

Hope tommorrow is a better day for you.

Jarhead








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Re:  Thanks, Roger and, uh, Ted.
Old 02-19-2004, 10:02 AM   #14
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Re:  Thanks, Roger and, uh, Ted.

How can you contribute to your society if you DON'T have the discipline to ER? Do we confuse consumption with contribution?!?

Thanks, Roger, you've forced a good self-assessment thread on the rest of us. It's probably overdue. And although you could make it so, ER is not all about "me".

Ted, I spent 24 years defending your right to voice your opinions, so don't hide behind your DD-214. Spending a few years in a combat zone does not morally entitle you to ridicule ANYONE-- although I honor and appreciate your decision to serve. Now stop acting like a grumpy old veteran before you ruin our reputations. And go read Hack Hackworth's biography if you feel another one of those posts coming on.

ER does not imply "dropping out", and those who do so may just end up dropping into a coffin earlier than their working peers. ER is an opportunity to focus on the important things instead obsessing over next quarter's profits or weekly meetings.

So Ted, let's extend your GW analogy to Ben Franklin. He made his stash at the age of 42-- although with his apprentice years, it still worked out to 30 years of work. He DID drop out-- to invent many wonderful things including a practical electrical battery, a musical instrument, and the lightning rod. He was the first to chart the Gulf Stream current. His weather observations jump-started the science of meteorology. He developed libraries, post offices, and firefighters. Oh, yeah, I think he was a pretty good political moderator at a couple of caucuses, and he helped a young impractical spendthrift draft a pretty good Declaration. The vast majority of his contributions came after he chucked his career for "unemployment". I think that his hedonistic activities are merited by his contributions, even if he did pursue both with tremendous vigor.

BTW, GW ain't exactly a paragon of selfless virtue either. His decision to run the Continental Army has been enshrined in the Consultant's Hall of Fame. He deliberately "gave up" his salary because he asked to be compensated for his "expenses"-- and he grew rich as a result of filing his reimbursement vouchers with the Cont Congress. So many patriots were gouging the Army & govt on pricing contracts that one of the Army's hottest flag officers-- Nathaniel Greene-- had to spend most of the war straightening out logistics instead of leading soldiers. And Robert Morris, one of America's richest men, engaged in his nation-building activities as a means of protecting his assets (so to speak). While all of our Founding Fathers did wonderful things, they did so with a healthy dose of self-interest added to their altruism. Thank goodness.

I consume less in ER than I did while I was working, especially when you consider the savings on stress & health care. Those who are able to ER must demonstrate the ability to lead a productive non-consumptive lifestyle, and ER is their reward for this economic proficiency. It's also a tremendous opportunity for community service that will greatly outweigh the "economic drag" of our leisure pursuits.

Am I more productive in ER? Well, my investment returns are higher because I have more time to spend on educating myself and on planning ahead. Without "workplace" stress my health is better, so I'm not consuming medical resources. I have the time to prepare better meals, so my diet is better. I consume more than my fair share of exercise equipment and ocean waves, but no one was using them anyway. So I think I'm much more economically productive than my "working" peers-- you just can't measure it in terms of $$ or other traditional workplace benchmarks.

Am I contributing socially? Spouse and I are much closer to our pre-teen kid, who can tell that we're way easier to live with and who even voluntarily engages us in productive discourse. We actually have time to brainstorm school research questions and to tutor academic problems. We've been able to volunteer at our local school, with Scouting, in a local non-profit, and in our neighborhood-- we never would have had the time during our working years. We're always available to lend a hand on the street or with an elderly homeowner. Neighborhood latchkey kids drop by our house for help with the blessings of their working parents. We're assisting a young adult with room & board, a GED, and college plans, something the parents wish they could support but aren't able to do right now. I did NONE of that while I was "working".

So maybe all this uneconomic "drop out" activity is why I can't seem to "exploit" my cash-producing opportunities that I alluded to in the earlier post. Maybe I'm too busy improving the community with my brain, my commitment, and my time instead of with my paycheck and my taxes. I've been far more productive WITHOUT a job, and I look forward to spending the vast majority of my life in unemployment.

Roger, if ER is "me" oriented, then I suspect that your greatest contributions still lie ahead of you. It's just a matter of ditching that pesky job and being able to focus your time on your talents...
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 10:13 AM   #15
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Hmm...last time I checked I was doing two things of benefit...investing monies that are put to use by corporations and the government to employ people and produce things, and also my consumption of goods and services helps employ other people and helps make companies profitable.

The only thing I'm not doing is wasting resources on gas to drive to work, to make funny looking clothes with a special noose to go around the neck, and wearing myself out physically and psychologically so I need more medical care later in life.

Now...what exactly is wrong with this again?

I think I already know what the ideal job is. Four hours a day at the quick-e mart.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 10:38 AM   #16
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Nords,
Ted has a unique way of getting people's dander up. I was going to post a response to him, but after reading yours, I know my post would have been a feeble retort.
You have said it all !
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 10:43 AM   #17
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

My idea of a near perfect job might be as an usher at Pittsburgh Pirate games. So, I'm going downtown this afternoon to try my luck at their 'job fair'.
I like baseball and this would be an opportunity to see the games, work about 3 or 4 hours at maybe as much as 81 games a year. Outdoor work, fresh air seem pretty good to me. Of course, some might argue that the Pirates don't really play baseball, at least don't play it very well, something like 12 consecutive losing seasons. But, we'll check it out and see what transpires.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 11:20 AM   #18
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

Quote:
. . . My thoughts for ER retirment "employment" have been seasonal work for the Parks Service or possibly working for someone like the Nature Conservancy. *I don't have a family at home, so devoting time to home life is not huge on my list.
My DW and I both gave serious consideration to Park Service work after retirement. I talked to a number of interpretive rangers, land managers and other forest service workers I knew and decided to pass on the opportunity. My DW took a job as a park service employee for a county park near us. The politics of the job is driving her crazy. I expect her to retire again soon. After years of working in a for-profit corporation, her expectation is of an organization that is considerably more efficient than the county parks department. Friends have told us that the National Park Service is only very slightly better and that the State is run so poorly that they drive people away.

The Nature Conservancy route may be better. I do volunteer work for a number of conservation groups and I enjoy it. But it seems to me that the paid employees of these groups don't get to do the fun work. They spend their time seeking funding, shuffling paper and organizing volunteers.

Quote:
I was raised with the traditional strong work ethic and taught that our life is one of service to others. *I sometimes wonder if ER can be a little "me" oriented. * I know there are many ways to satisfy these things without getting back into the work world. * Interesting to hear how others thinnk of these things.
I kind of bristle (just a little) when I hear people talk about "work ethic" and "service to others" related to retirement decisions. That sounds like someone's personal problem to me. I just don't see how working at a job is a higher calling or a societal responsibility. Being a "good person" to friends, family and community really has nothing to do with employment status. When I worked, I worked hard -- not because I owed it to society, but because I cared about individuals I worked with and I didn't want to let them down.
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 03:40 PM   #19
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

When I left my final job, I figured it was a boon to the world economy as well as myself.

I can't see any benefit to anyone in staying with a Dilbert-like job, and that's where I was. I even had a pointy-haired boss who not only acted but LOOKED like the PHB in Scott Adams' comic strips!

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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job
Old 02-19-2004, 04:21 PM   #20
 
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Re: Retirement vs Perfect Job

I had an employee once *that looked exactly
like Dogbert
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