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ER and self respect
Old 04-25-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
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ER and self respect

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but it seems like our whole society thinks that working in a job creates a sense of self-respect and self-esteem. I honestly never felt that way. Maybe I'd feel a sense of accomplishment, but it never increased my self-respect. Can someone enlighten me here? If you take this logic, then if you are laid off or fired, your self respect would go down, wouldn't it?
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:19 PM   #2
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I know when I was forced out of my job due to a change in management, I felt down on myself for a long time. Thankfully I have proved to myself that I can be even more successful without those losers.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:26 PM   #3
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I get that thought.

We are working towards ER, 3 yrs. Iw ill be 61.

I am on Exec. team and have heard many conversations about those that have "opted" out to date.

They decided they could not meat the challenge
They could not take the pace
They lost the drive
They gave up

On and on, all negative.....

..........................
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:28 PM   #4
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It's true our culture seems to value "work über alles". That said, few would actually show up for work if they didn't need the money. That suggests the anti-ER attitudes are based on jealousy.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
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Someone here uses a Dante quote in their signature. Something like "Follow your own path. Let the people talk."

Being able to walk away from work at a young age is something to be proud of. It's a unique accomplishment that few others achieve, although many wish they could. If they're envious, that's their problem.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:51 PM   #6
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Part of the reason might be measuring yourself against others to judge your worth, versus measuring yourself against what you want.

DW was struck at how, at our 20th year college reunion (at an Ivy League school, which tends to breed this sort of thing), how many classmates who the average person would have said has done very well still had chips on their shoulder because others had done better than then job-wise and financially. You are talking about folks in their early 40's and already worth 5-10 million unhappy because their were classmates who were worth 50-100 million. A couple couldn't figure out why I was perfectly happy not to be in executive management. Fortunately our close friends from this school didn't have this attitude (which is one reason we have stayed close friends for almost 40 years).
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:13 PM   #7
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I think this self worth thing tied to work is less likely in younger generations from what I see. And no wonder, pensions are on the way out and the way to move up is to change jobs. Young people that work for me take off for the most frivolous reasons (in my view), but it is all perfectly reasonable to them since work is only a means to an end.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:13 PM   #8
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Part of the reason might be measuring yourself against others to judge your worth, versus measuring yourself against what you want.
Personal choices during any season of life can readily contrast with social "norms." For example, when choosing college majors, students must decide whether they want to learn a subject that will lead to a lucrative career, or is there another subject they find enthralling in its own right (without being profitable)? Lucrative careers can lead to the rewards of the American Dream; those less lucrative can also fulfill dreams, though maybe not those of upward mobility. (Lucky are the students who are naturally curious/excited about a lucrative major!)

When the later years arrive, once again the choices are personal. Ignoring the stereotypes of age and/or success can be exhilerating.

So, for me, ER was a gift to myself, earned after 33 years of making a living--joyfully-- in a non-lucrative profession. I lost interest in the trappings of success at an early age, but was consumed by hunger to find out what great minds had written about the nature of humanity and its concerns.

While I was fortunate to spend a career discussing books, authors and ideas with bright minds of the next generation, teaching analysis and writing is very hard labor-- the price to be paid for assigning "great books." To be a part of those discussions, I had to pay the dues: grading reams of writing for more than three decades.

I got tired of paying the dues. So I ER'd. Since teachers earn limited respect anyway, recognition was a hope I'd rarely considered.

I retired to spend each day as I like. What day of hard labor can compare with a day that is wide open, to plan as one will?

Freedom, self-direction. pursuing myriad interests----- I could never give these up just because of someone's opinion about "work" or "being professional."

(If they don't understand, or try to understand, I'm not sure they are "friends.")

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Old 04-25-2013, 09:49 PM   #9
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40 years old...I feel less self-respect because of work. I have to crave and listen to whacko co-workers. I fee like a social worker for adult babies.

Can't wait to get out and have my self respect back. 5 more years 5 more years
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:26 PM   #10
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Someone here uses a Dante quote in their signature. Something like "Follow your own path. Let the people talk."

Being able to walk away from work at a young age is something to be proud of. It's a unique accomplishment that few others achieve, although many wish they could. If they're envious, that's their problem.
+1.

I have always been an outlier, so if retiring at 45 (as I did in 2008) happens to add to that then big friggin deal! I walked away from a company I had worked for 23 years with absolutely NO regrets and never looked back.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:30 PM   #11
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I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but it seems like our whole society thinks that working in a job creates a sense of self-respect and self-esteem. I honestly never felt that way. Maybe I'd feel a sense of accomplishment, but it never increased my self-respect. Can someone enlighten me here? If you take this logic, then if you are laid off or fired, your self respect would go down, wouldn't it?
An admirable sentiment. If you have maintained that attitude after being laid off for a period of a few years, then I salute you. If you haven't had such an experience, then you don't know what you are talking about. You sound like an enlistee who is planning to be a war hero.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:51 PM   #12
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I don't know if self-respect is the right word for me, but I recently realized that one reason I haven't yet fully retired is that I sort of feel guilty...like I am doing something I'm not supposed to do.

I ESR'd 3 years ago and have worked 1 or 2 days a week since then. And I've felt fine about that. But, lately I've been thinking of fully retiring and I've been sort of strangely reluctant to do it. I realized that - surprisingly to me - at some level I feel like I'm "supposed" to keep working until at least 65 (today is my 59th birthday) and if I quit, then I'm being self-indulgent and sort of a quitter. And I guess that is a form of self-disrespect. I'm working through this now (and probably will make it through) since I know that logically there is nothing wrong with retiring. I've spent 35 years in field so it isn't like I've been a sloth my entire life....
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:52 PM   #13
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Conversely- I've heard many say how their j#b continually broke down their self-respect. Management constantly insulted every project or decision someone was involved in. Corporate attitude seemed to constantly send message that each employee was 'lucky' that the company let them continue w#rking there. That demoralizing management approach might be effective for junior employees with big college debt &/or during serious recession, but it backfires when economy picks up and folks see other firms courting their talents. Even in down economy this brow-beating management style strongly encourages folks to ER as soon as possible. ER's from these type firms often say their self-esteem ROSE after leaving the j#b.
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Old 04-25-2013, 11:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by David1961 View Post
I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but it seems like our whole society thinks that working in a job creates a sense of self-respect and self-esteem. I honestly never felt that way. Maybe I'd feel a sense of accomplishment, but it never increased my self-respect. Can someone enlighten me here? If you take this logic, then if you are laid off or fired, your self respect would go down, wouldn't it?
Seems like a complex issue to me.

Our culture certainly does promote the idea that doing productive work is part of self-respect. This is especially true for men, and especially true in subcultures where traditional sex roles are strong.

There's a moral element to it. Doing something productive or useful for society has, as far as I know, often been considered morally superior to "idleness," especially constant idleness. So some people may feel guilty for not working, like they're doing something self-indulgent and morally lazy.

There is probably something biological in it. It's easy to imagine how we might be genetically predisposed to feel bad somehow, if we weren't working for the tribe in some capacity, just sitting idly on the sidelines sipping coconut juice all day.

There are two types of self-esteem, so the effect on self-respect (or self-esteem) depends on which type you're thinking about. There is internally generated self-esteem, which comes from a sense of competence and a sense of operating according to your own values. And there is "reflected self-esteem," which we get from our sense of how others view us, or how the culture views us -- self-esteem as mirrored back to us by our image in others' eyes.

When we retire, reflected self-esteem probably takes more of a hit than internal self-esteem, since society and other people generally view people more positively if they have a job. This may be even more true for early retirees, since people are given a "pass" if they look old enough to "deserve" a retirement after a presumably long life of hard work.

However, internally generated self-esteem potentially increases in retirement, since you would be better able to stretch your sense of competence into new areas, express your real self, and follow your deepest values. Retirement is a challenge, though, and not everyone succeeds at it. There are certainly many stories of people whose self-esteem and quality of life plummet in retirement.

Also, there are insecure people who use work to bolster their self-respect. In those cases, taking work away from them is like taking away their oxygen.

And as others have pointed out, work is not always a boon to self-esteem. A toxic work environment can destroy a person's self-esteem.
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:07 AM   #15
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I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but it seems like our whole society thinks that working in a job creates a sense of self-respect and self-esteem. Maybe I'd feel a sense of accomplishment, but it never increased my self-respect.
I was almost always proud of my work, so I took some self-respect, self-esteem and sense of accomplishment from my career. That doesn't mean my work alone defined me, if it did I wouldn't have retired (early).
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Originally Posted by David1961
Can someone enlighten me here?
Probably not. There's not one "right" POV.
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Being able to walk away from work at a young age is something to be proud of. It's a unique accomplishment that few others achieve, although many wish they could. If they're envious, that's their problem.
While I think work is a noble and necessary pursuit (individually & in society), this is true too. A life of nothing but leisure is at least as undesirable as a life of nothing but work IMO, both have their time and place.
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:54 AM   #16
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While I think work is a noble and necessary pursuit (individually & in society), this is true too. A life of nothing but leisure is at least as undesirable as a life of nothing but work IMO, both have their time and place.
I agree. Having self respect means doing the right thing for your mind and body. Self respect comes from the ability to earn a living when one is younger, but there are people in the workforce who are chronically abusing their bodies by overwork, lack of sleep and unhealthy lifestyles, all in pursuit of their careers and the mighty dollar. That is not self respect. There is a time to respect what one's body is telling one and to scale back.
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:11 AM   #17
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Oscar Wilde wrote a play "An Ideal Husband" and when I saw the film version, one of the bachelors was described as "the idlest man in London". The character wore that description as a badge of accomplishment and I aspire to do the same.
Realistically, I don't think I could conquer London, but the small town that I inhabit might allow the possibility.
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:17 AM   #18
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I get that thought.

We are working towards ER, 3 yrs. Iw ill be 61.

I am on Exec. team and have heard many conversations about those that have "opted" out to date.

They decided they could not meat the challenge
They could not take the pace
They lost the drive
They gave up

On and on, all negative.....

..........................
Those comments tell me more about the speakers than the people who opted out.
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:10 AM   #19
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While I think work is a noble and necessary pursuit (individually & in society), this is true too. A life of nothing but leisure is at least as undesirable as a life of nothing but work IMO, both have their time and place.
I have to agree with this. When you do what you enjoy to much it quits being fun and is just another type of job.
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:30 AM   #20
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I was almost always proud of my work, so I took some self-respect, self-esteem and sense of accomplishment from my career. That doesn't mean my work alone defined me, if it did I wouldn't have retired (early).
I agree and think this is a key point. You can feel the positive sense of accomplishment from a job without letting the job define who you are.
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