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The Career!
Old 03-13-2011, 07:04 AM   #1
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The Career!

Wow... as I get ready to wind down my working career... I have a couple of retrospective thoughts...


  1. I clawed my way through several degrees (including graduate school)... most of the time I worked while in school... It was like working two full-time jobs. But it kept my financial situation solid.
  2. I made it a point to get a technical undergrad degree (high pay) with a management graduate degree (higher pay). Fantastic combination if you are in almost any technical field. It is valued and pays very well.
  3. I always tried to actively position myself for the best job opportunities available to me (not always the easiest) .
  4. I made it a point to make myself valuable to my management (whoever it was). I am valued "not because I make the boss feel good" but "because I make the boss look good". I know how to get the job done... even the more difficult jobs that others seem to avoid.

I can see how things could have turned out much differently for me... It has been a lot of work (extra effort). Some people get lucky... and things fall into place easy and fortune smiles on them and it just seems to work out. My road to successful FIRE (and survival) has been more oriented towards perspiration than inspiration.

How about you?
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:17 AM   #2
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All of my successes have been due to my hard work and all of my failures were due to bad luck.
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:23 AM   #3
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I never had a "career", but I did have a series of jobs that provided for my family/me, and got me over the finish line.

If I did as much as the OP has stated, I wonder why I would ever retire, considering the lifetime "investment" of my time/effort.
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:35 AM   #4
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...my failures were due to bad luck.
Wish I could say the same. I have made a number of bad (but fortunately not fatal) decisions along the way. I took my lumps... but didn't give up and kept moving.


Bad luck or bad judgment... they lead to the same place... as most of us know (or many of us anyway) it is what one does with the experience (past) and how they adjust that usually matters most (future).
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:14 AM   #5
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I believe people do what they are best at, to survive. If they are smart and capable, they do good work and will appreciate your good work, too. If they aren't, they use dishonest methods to get ahead, and make the good workers look as bad as possible. I would advise anyone today to get a good grounding in recognizing and handling other people's insecurities. Those will be the source of any knife scars in your back.

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Old 03-13-2011, 08:27 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Wow... as I get ready to wind down my working career...
How about you?
How close are you to FIRE? Give us a T-minus countdown, please...

Responding to Amethyst's post (I messed up the multiquote ooops ) about "insecurities"...
I would say that professional jealousy was most likely the reason I went from hero (1988-97) to goat (1997-2007). That can happen in a bureaucracy.
It was never my intent to intimidate any co-w*rkers, but looking back...maybe I was just too hard of a w*rker and too diligent. I also had a good habit of keeping up to date on "the rules". Being 100% ethical in all govt business matters could have been an issue also.

Oh well. They are still there and I am not.
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:29 AM   #7
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...
If I did as much as the OP has stated, I wonder why I would ever retire, considering the lifetime "investment" of my time/effort.
I worked to live... not the other way around. It has been a lot of work. But it was work!

I did put in a lot effort and energy managing my working career and maintaining my marketability (for work). I did it all along the way because I never... "NEVER" wanted to be at the mercy of someone else good will or unexpected job loss!

That is part of the reason I got an undergraduate degree in engineering rather than some other easier educational options. I was very confident it would lead to high wages (with just an undergrad degree). It was a lot of work... But it did work (accomplished the goal)!

One thing I am 100% positive about... If I lost my job during the meltdown (or even today)... I would have found another job fairly quickly and not lose earning potential. For that matter there would be many many ahead of me in a lay-off scenario.

I am somewhat risk averse about situations that could really impact me negatively financially. I was that way during my earning years during FIRE prep years... You can see it in my posts about planning and managing the withdrawal phase. I am not willing to leave too much to chance (at least the things I know I can reasonably manage).

If I were not risk averse... I would have FIRED in my mid 40s (with a personal BBB strength rating)... instead of mid 50s... but DW and I decided we should wait till we were TRIPLE A).

I worked my tail off... I assume many others have done the same.

No doubt, others have had an easier route to success (accomplishing FIRE) perhaps by making better decisions.

People choose different paths and it works for them.

I would like to hear about them... that is part of the reason why I put up this thread.

Maybe some of the youngsters (aspiring FIREes) will benefit from this thread.

How did you do it?
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:31 AM   #8
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How close are you to FIRE? Give us a T-minus countdown, please...

I would say that professional jealousy was most likely the reason I went from hero (1988-97) to goat (1997-2007). That can happen in a bureaucracy.
It was never my intent to intimidate any co-w*rkers, but looking back...maybe I was just too hard of a w*rker and too diligent. I also had a good habit of keeping up to date on "the rules". Being 100% ethical in all govt business matters could have been an issue also.

Oh well. They are still there and I am not.

I will go this summer! Exact date TBD... working that out right now.

While I have hinted over the last few years that I might ER... I will not give anymore notice than is required. But I am trying to manage the loose ends so they will not ask me to delay FIRE, stay on part-time, or come back as a consultant.

I don't need to work and I no longer want to work.
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:38 AM   #9
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Oh BTW... I hope my post did not come off as hubris.

I have been working my tail off for a long time and as I have progressed in my career... the jobs and asignments have become increasingly difficult with stress to match that difficulty... it is a relief to be in a financial position to stop.
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:57 AM   #10
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[*]I made it a point to make myself valuable to my management (whoever it was). I am valued "not because I make the boss feel good" but "because I make the boss look good". I know how to get the job done... even the more difficult jobs that others seem to avoid.
I think this one is pretty close in my case. Though I've avoided manglement like the plague. I'm at the top of the non-managerial ladder (next promotion would be management, assuming anyone was being promoted any more), and that's exactly where I want to be.

I think one of the skills that has helped me most is an unusually strong ability to summarize and explain technical concepts in relatively non-technical, high-level ways to executives who either don't understand or don't want the technical gibberish but just want to know what it all means to them.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:19 AM   #11
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This is my core skill, too. Across many technical specialties, some of which I haven't actually worked in [talk about a source of professional jealousy - SHE never worked as an XYZ, but can explain XYZ better than WE can? Get the pitchforks and torches!]

Plus, I work my tail off. (Not saying you don't!)

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I think one of the skills that has helped me most is an unusually strong ability to summarize and explain technical concepts in relatively non-technical, high-level ways to executives who either don't understand or don't want the technical gibberish but just want to know what it all means to them.
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:11 AM   #12
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I never thought of Nursing as a career but as a job I spent forty years doing . The reason I was successful was hard work , reliability and ability to work well with others .
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:25 AM   #13
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  • Got a BSME
  • I always tried to actively position myself for the best job opportunities available to me (not always the easiest) .
  • I made it a point to make myself valuable to my management (whoever it was). I am valued "not because I make the boss feel good" but "because I make the boss look good". I know how to get the job done... even the more difficult jobs that others seem to avoid.
Pretty much my approach too. I was willing to take on any task, learn any new skill, relocate to wherever MegaCorp wanted and work whatever hours it took to get results. I was never asked to do anything even remotely illegal or immoral. And I've been very fortunate...
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:29 AM   #14
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I never thought of Nursing as a career but as a job I spent forty years doing . The reason I was successful was hard work , reliability and ability to work well with others .
Same here (but I was not a nurse; I w*rked in IT)

Food on the table, a roof over my head (for me and my family) is what counted most.

I was "thanked" on the 15th and last day of the month....
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:34 AM   #15
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Chinaco. Your story sounds a lot like mine. All my degrees were part time while working. My 20's were a blur of night school, accounting exams, and new career. In the end worked out great. Hard work coupled with a great education is unbeatable!
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:09 PM   #16
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I was hired by the company I would for because they wanted someone with a good math background but who also had a strong computer programming (this was in 1985 when mainframe, not PC skills, were at a premium) background and business skills (I was an economics major) to be something of a pioneer to automate some fo the actuarial processes done mainly by hand.

They wanted me to pursue this, to "fool around" with accessing the electronic mainframe datasets and I did just that. They had sent me to an in-house programming class to learn SAS, a growing, high-level business software language and I took to it very well. In the 1990s, I linked together and automated many fragmented processes to improve the efficiency of my division.

My unique combination of actuarial knowledge and programming skills made me a big fish in a small pond in my division, making me more and more indispensible in the 1990s. As the Y2K crisis neared, they needed me to not only upgrade the programs in my division but to help test a new report system which was Y2K-compatible. I was also responsible for working with the professional programmer-analysts, all of whom liked working with me as the end-user because I knew how to "speak their language" to make the testing go smoothly. I completed a large project just 45 minutes before I left the company on my last day.

Similarly, being able to translate computer-related concepts to those in my division who were not nearly as computer oriented (i.e. higher-ups) was another tool to keep me valuable in my division.

But it was making myself indispensible which provided me with the leverage (a very valuable intangible to have) to obtain a part-time working arrangement, some of which included telecommuting for a few years before that was discontinued (and led to my resignation 5 years later). I know another coworker in my division with the same level of seniority as me was denied a similar arrangement because she was not indispensible like I was.

Even though I have been gone for 2 years, I don't miss any of it at all. I used all the leverage I had, and parlayed it into what I really wanted - to retire early.
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:20 PM   #17
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Hey c'mon guys - it's Sunday morning and you're talking about work?

Oh I forgot, you're ER and don't remember what day of the week it is
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:47 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
I will go this summer! Exact date TBD... working that out right now.

While I have hinted over the last few years that I might ER... I will not give anymore notice than is required. But I am trying to manage the loose ends so they will not ask me to delay FIRE, stay on part-time, or come back as a consultant.

I don't need to work and I no longer want to work.
Pass this link along to the person organizing your going-away event.

Wood Sign Plaque - I Don't Want To I Don't Have To I'm Retired - Humorous - Funny Wood Signs

I was given a greeting card with this "motto" when I FIREd almost 4 years ago. It remains tucked into the side of my dresser mirror, so I see it every morning.
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:53 PM   #19
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Pass this link along to the person organizing your going-away event.

Wood Sign Plaque - I Don't Want To I Don't Have To I'm Retired - Humorous - Funny Wood Signs

I was given a greeting card with this "motto" when I FIREd almost 4 years ago. It remains tucked into the side of my dresser mirror, so I see it every morning.
DEW (Dear Ex-Wife - not sure if that's an accepted acronym) used to be a receptionist at a radio station. I gave her a sign to put on her desk which she got many laughs out of. It said "Next Window Please" with an arrow. The station manager told her to remove it, as hers was the only desk in the reception area. It did give us a lot of chuckles on stressful days though!
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Wow... as I get ready to wind down my working career... I have a couple of retrospective thoughts...


  1. I clawed my way through several degrees (including graduate school)... most of the time I worked while in school... It was like working two full-time jobs. But it kept my financial situation solid.
  2. I made it a point to get a technical undergrad degree (high pay) with a management graduate degree (higher pay). Fantastic combination if you are in almost any technical field. It is valued and pays very well.
  3. I always tried to actively position myself for the best job opportunities available to me (not always the easiest) .
  4. I made it a point to make myself valuable to my management (whoever it was). I am valued "not because I make the boss feel good" but "because I make the boss look good". I know how to get the job done... even the more difficult jobs that others seem to avoid.

I can see how things could have turned out much differently for me... It has been a lot of work (extra effort). Some people get lucky... and things fall into place easy and fortune smiles on them and it just seems to work out. My road to successful FIRE (and survival) has been more oriented towards perspiration than inspiration.

How about you?
All that made me think of is how great it feels not to have to worry about all that stuff anymore. Worrying about all the office politics and always trying to fit into someone else's mold to get ahead. Ugh!

Honestly, I made a decision to step off the merry-go-round about 3 years before I retired. Since I was taking a pension, everyone knew when I was going and getting promoted would have been tougher and tougher. I was working on a ulcer trying to be all I could be and just one day decided to remove myself form the game. I spent my time after that focused on my projects and doing what I thought was right instead of what I thought was expected. Kind of liberating.

Even better to actually retire and not worry about any career stuff. Good luck and welcome to the dark side.
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