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Does our job define us?
Old 05-28-2010, 02:10 PM   #1
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Does our job define us?

I have many friends whose self image and personal identity seem to be tied up with their profession. Their jobs seem to define them. Even after retiring, they continue to in the same w*rk. In fact the man I replaced on the faculty at my university 30 years ago spent the next 20 years still doing research and publishing (without pay).

So, are we on this forum a different breed? Are we defined by what we do when we are not w*rking? Or were we just not into your w*rk that much? What is our motivation for wanting (or having wanted) to ER?
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:44 PM   #2
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While I can't speak for the rest of the folks here, personally, I am defined by my lack of that j*b thingy you speak of.....
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:17 PM   #3
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I have many friends whose self image and personal identity seem to be tied up with their profession. Their jobs seem to define them. Even after retiring, they continue to in the same w*rk. In fact the man I replaced on the faculty at my university 30 years ago spent the next 20 years still doing research and publishing (without pay).
It would seem that this guy really found his true love, so why would he abandon it after he retired? Was it likely less satisfying than the things we ERs spend our time on? To your question of are we different, of course we are. This is fairly odd subculture, and most of us have long been deviant (in our internal plans and the the ways that we saw the work world, etc.) Much of our work on this board is making a virtue out of our particular style of non-conforming.


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Old 05-28-2010, 03:22 PM   #4
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So, are we on this forum a different breed? Are we defined by what we do when we are not w*rking? Or were we just not into your w*rk that much? What is our motivation for wanting (or having wanted) to ER?
We are a different breed, but not because we want to get out of our j*bs as soon as financially prudent to do so. I think the significant majority of w*rkers would like to be financially able to leave their current j*b and would if they were very firmly FI.

We're different because we (for the most part) are aggressively pursuing it by saving heavily and foregoing the pursuit of more "stuff" along the way.

In other words, it's normal to want to retire early (at least from the "daily grind" that is most of our careers). It's not so normal to have a good shot at actually doing it through financial discipline and money management skills.

In reality, I am somewhat envious of people who really and truly *do* love their work, especially if it's secure. But most of us don't, and for us there is the quest for FIRE.
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:39 PM   #5
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In reality, I am somewhat envious of people who really and truly *do* love their work, especially if it's secure.
Yep, and I'll take it one step further: I've always been envious of people who actually knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. I never had a passion for anything yet was reasonably competent in the two or three different career fields I wandered through on my way to FIRE.

Now that I'm here, it turns out being FIREd was and is my true calling in life.
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Old 05-28-2010, 04:17 PM   #6
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I rather liked my job (computer programming); then they made me a supervisor. I gained 50# and my health went downhill.

I agree, FIREd is my true calling.
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Old 05-28-2010, 04:46 PM   #7
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.............I agree, FIREd is my true calling.
Me too. I was just a slacker trapped in a w*rker's body.
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Old 05-28-2010, 09:06 PM   #8
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Me too. I was just a slacker trapped in a w*rker's body.
Me too!
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Old 05-28-2010, 09:21 PM   #9
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I rather liked my job (computer programming); then they made me a supervisor. I gained 50# and my health went downhill.

I agree, FIREd is my true calling.
My job for last 15 years was also computer programming but my love has always been art. So I found something I loved years ago. I just couldn't make a living at it. I was fortunate to be able to do something interesting in order to make a living. But as soon as it was financially feasible to leave it for what I loved, which is w*rk in its own way, I left. Not surprisingly it looks like there are a lot of reasons for ER on the forum based on the responses I've seen. When I've told certain people, like some of my doctors, that I've retired they look at me quizzically. At least some of them really do love their work and I think wouldn't know what to do without it. I envy them to a certain extent. If I'd been able to make a living from art then probably I'd still be working at that job. But you just never know. It could be that years of doing it would have made me ready for a big change.
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Old 05-29-2010, 12:45 AM   #10
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Yep, and I'll take it one step further: I've always been envious of people who actually knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. I never had a passion for anything yet was reasonably competent in the two or three different career fields I wandered through on my way to FIRE.
Now that I'm here, it turns out being FIREd was and is my true calling in life.
Exactly. I've always enjoyed reading, thinking, and writing-- and FIRE is the perfect study subject.

Hawaii is full of people who work to live (not the other way 'round): surfers and hula are probably the top two but the list also includes sailors, outdoors types, and musicians.
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Old 05-29-2010, 07:30 AM   #11
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Yep, and I'll take it one step further: I've always been envious of people who actually knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. I never had a passion for anything yet was reasonably competent in the two or three different career fields I wandered through on my way to FIRE.

Now that I'm here, it turns out being FIREd was and is my true calling in life.
Same here. I majored in accounting because I had a teacher or two push me in that direction. So I did and pretty much hated my work. Kinda sad. But I did enjoy the people I worked with so that leveled it out. And I got a chance to be part owner in the wholesale company I worked for so that made it more meaningful.

But no doubt, retirement was meant for me. It's been a beautiful relationship so far.
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Old 05-29-2010, 08:45 AM   #12
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I have many friends whose self image and personal identity seem to be tied up with their profession. Their jobs seem to define them.
"What do you do?" This the the first question people generally ask when meeting someone for the first time. Work=identity is everywhere. Even here we often talk about what we used to do.
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Old 05-29-2010, 08:55 AM   #13
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A j*b was very important to me, for many years.

It taught me that I didn't want one ...
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:37 AM   #14
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Unfortunately it often does.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:21 AM   #15
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If you think about it, we spend 40 hours or more out of every week doing our w*rk. That's more than we devote to any other activity, sometimes even sleep. Seems natural that w*rk is what we would use as our identity. The sad part is that many of us are indifferent at best about our w*rk.

I, personally, have settled on Trout Bum for the next phase of my life. It has a certain ring to it.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:23 AM   #16
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I have this theory that, no matter what your "profession" or job title, your real job is dealing with difficult people. I've had enough of it.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:45 AM   #17
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I have this theory that, no matter what your "profession" or job title, your real job is dealing with difficult people. I've had enough of it.
Exactly right. As a manager, I quickly found out that technical competence was easy to find, but the real jewels were people that got things done, which usually meant getting around difficult people.

My pet theory is that many gifted, hard working people work not for financial reward but rather to put themselves in a position where they can behave like a$$holes, yet still be tolerated due to their other contributions.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:47 AM   #18
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I have this theory that, no matter what your "profession" or job title, your real job is dealing with difficult people. I've had enough of it.

I find retirement doesn't remove all difficult people from my life.

So here's how I see it. JoAnne retires from a job she hates, dies 30 years later, and her obit features her former, very hated career: "JoAnne, formerly of Podunk, age 95, handler of difficult people, dies in Cabo."
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Old 05-29-2010, 01:56 PM   #19
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I had a high school friend whose Dad was a radiologist. I went over to their house a lot, but the father never remembered who I as. My friend told me his Dad would know me if he could see my chest x-ray.

This really stuck in my mind. Talk about job defining you.

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Old 05-29-2010, 03:00 PM   #20
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My friend told me his Dad would know me if he could see my chest x-ray.
That's ... almost creepy!
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