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Old 03-29-2014, 12:41 PM   #41
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Thanks for all the input, folks. I appreciate it. Some smart people here.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:47 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post
I
...
I'm about 5 months from downshifting to part-time, so I'm pulling away from some responsibilities, and they are looking for a replacement. It's close enough to feel real, I guess.
...
That is adding to my sense that it's over ("it" being my career), I've done all I'm ever going to do, it's all downhill from here, that's all you'll achieve. I know a lot of people who've done a lot more than I did with their careers. So I'm feeling this sense of being a loser or failure, as I pull away from work. I'm discovering that I have a sense of shame about it. That is completely not what I expected.
...
I am taking the plunge to retirement next month, and over the past six months, since I really realized I would be 'retiring', I have had and still have all of the feelings you have so eloquently expressed.

I let everyone know at the beginning of this year, that after the first quarter I would be pretty much gone. And they started making plans about how to replace me, kind of made me feel, for the first time, left out.
But that is exactly what I wanted to be, left out. But still, it is hard realizing as you have said, whatever I have achieved in my working life, is all I will ever achieve.

But also I realized that the things that so excited me in my early life, don't have the same excitement now. And also I remember all of the transitions I have had previously, although many often meant a job ending, personal relationships ending, they always lead to other opportunities. So that is what keeps me going getting through the feelings you have expressed.

I do feel the same as you, but I was not as brave as you to express it here in a new thread. That is one of the reasons I joined this forum, to learn about the feelings of the long timers. And talked to my retired BIL about his feelings after retiring (he said I wasn't the first to ask him). I think a lot of us share your feelings.

I always identified with my work, and was proud of that. I came up with solutions to problems in the shower, in the john, walking around. I was always thinking of new things to try, worrying about current problems, stressing about relationships with colleagues, etc etc etc. And I was really proud that I identified with what I did. I was proud of my successes, as trivial as they might have been in the great scheme of things.

But it is time now for give up pleasing other people, pleasing my clients, spending my hours figuring out how to solve their problems. Now is the time for me to figure out more important issues. About how to fix the patio deck, where to plant the orange tree, where do we want to drive to this week without worrying what day we have to get back.

After six months thinking about this I realize that I am ready to start doing things for me and my wife, and end doing things for the "man."

As for your part time work. This is one area where you have to be careful I think. If your job is the kind where you can leave 100% of everything at work when you go home, it is okay. But if not, I think you will still have 100% of the stress (worrying all week) and only 20% of the income. A very bad tradeoff I think.

I am not planning on any part time work of this type after next month. In my work, and I am guessing yours, you have to go or stay. Not too much in between. And any real potential for retirement joy will come after the part time work ends.

Well, we will see what happens in the future. Best of luck to you.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:49 PM   #43
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:51 PM   #44
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For me no issues at all. I found engineering a very interesting study but a poor way to actually spend time. If I never hear any of that nonsense from the corporate types again it will be too soon.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:58 PM   #45
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I think I have some of the same feelings you do. In fact I thought about writing a post about it too this week.

For me, I just never made a lot of money, $20K-$25K max/year. Most years less than that. So put a big capital L on my forehead.

I did end up having a NW over $1M. Got lucky with investments, necessity being its mother.

I have high regards with those on this board who've done well or knew the value of savings at a young age. I'm just glad to know about this board, Bogleheads and I'm also a big MMM fan.
Kudos to you for being able to accomplish the net worth.
Just goes to show that many, many people with this income and more should be able to LYBM during their work years and not end up so deep in debt and relying on the rest of us to fund their retirement through our taxes
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:06 PM   #46
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and here I thought I was a "loser" because I haven't ER'd earlier

For some people, it's easy for their identity to become wrapped up in their job (along with other externals). If after ER you find yourself still wanting to identify with a new endeavor, you could always create some fine new adventure for yourself (i.e., a competitive sport, using your talents to support a non-profit or other cause/interest you believe in or have, etc.). There are many ways to go from here to there in life.

Additionally, as others have said, $1M saved on your income is more of an accomplishment than most in this country will make.
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:31 PM   #47
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ER Eddie, I recall how I felt when I first switched from working full-time to part-time back in 2001. I found it liberating, not a failure by any stretch. I wanted to regain control of my personal life. I had gotten burnt out and the already lousy commute had become worse when my company had relocated from lower Manhattan to Jersey City, New Jersey.

I knew I had gotten my last promotion back in 1995. I had already achieved the position of supervisor in my office and knew I would go no higher. I also knew that switching to part-time would reduce my annual pay raises from somewhat above average to average which was fine with me. With all raises having declined from the late 1990s into the early 2000s, this meant I would get maybe 1% less than I would have gotten. Big deal. I was taking a 40% pay CUT by working part-time, did I really care about another 1%?

I also knew I would become somewhat less relevant in the office. I still attended biweekly management meetings (which I hated) and saw my workload reduced, expectedly. My coworkers needed my mind becaue of the 16 years of experience and knowledge I had built up. I knew and could do things that nobody else in my division knew or could do , so I still had real value. I had the respect of my coworkers which was satisfying.

But over time that was hardly enough to keep me around. I still had a nice career but I did feel like I was starting to rot away. This rotting away feeling was aided by my feeling that I was growing more powerful financially as the pieces of my ER plan were falling into place in the 6th and 7th years or working part-time. Reducing my part-time hours (to lessen the commute some more) did not help, either. I was asking myself all the time, "Why I am still working here?" When the last piece fell into place in 2008, I knew it was time to leave. I had achieved my "magic number" and resigned a few months later. I had no regrets.
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Old 03-29-2014, 03:27 PM   #48
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ER Eddie - I can relate to what you are saying. During the last year of w*rk my group and our Department was being downsized. If I stayed on it would have been in a much reduced capacity or I would have to start over in another part of the organization. I probably would have been demoted. While a demotion would have been justified by my reduced responsibilities or inexperience in a new position it just would have felt weird. It's totally a status thing.

I was fortunate to discover that I was financially independent and could retire. The last few months could have been demoralizing but the reduced stress was so welcome that I didn't really think about my uselessness on the j*b. When I left I changed my LinkedIn page to "Retired Mechanical Engineer". I was proud of what I had done in my career but I was ready to call it quits. In the last three years of ER I've found new worthwhile pursuits and even updated my LinkedIn page to "Science Educator" now that I am putting on my 4th science class for seniors.

I also experienced a realization that "this is all I will achieve" in my old position. I also got the distinct impression from my MIL that she was disappoint in that fact too. However, the moment passed and I couldn't be happier.

I don't think I would have liked working part-time. Making a quick clean break worked for me.
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Old 03-29-2014, 03:40 PM   #49
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I consider my ability to quit work at an early age one of my greatest accomplishments! I don't get nearly as much satisfaction out of the fact that I earned a PhD in chemistry and was published in major peer-reviewed journals.
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Old 03-29-2014, 03:48 PM   #50
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Holy cw@p!

On first read, I thought you were saying you had inherited the money from your mother

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Originally Posted by mikefixac View Post
For me, I just never made a lot of money, $20K-$25K max/year. Most years less than that....I did end up having a NW over $1M. Got lucky with investments, necessity being its mother.

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Old 03-29-2014, 04:12 PM   #51
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I consider my ability to quit work at an early age one of my greatest accomplishments! I don't get nearly as much satisfaction out of the fact that I earned a PhD in chemistry and was published in major peer-reviewed journals.
I used to be a researcher, and was surrounded by hardcore academics who lived for their next grant, paper, presentation or citation. As a physician, research was an interesting component of my work but it was never a major driver for me.
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:16 PM   #52
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I consider my ability to quit work at an early age one of my greatest accomplishments!
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:25 PM   #53
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I consider my ability to quit work at an early age one of my greatest accomplishments!
Definitely!
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:14 PM   #54
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Per the OP's original comments
"I've done all I'm ever going to do, it's all downhill from here, that's all you'll achieve."
I would suggest reading the adult section of Wkipedia's Late Bloomer post.
Late bloomer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A late blooming adult is a person who does not discover their talents and abilities until later than normally expected. In certain cases retirement may lead to this discovery."

Also, just two of many links on Google from a search with the phrase "people who found success later in life"....

10 People Who Found Their Calling Later in Life | Listosaur | Hungry for Knowledge
5 Famous People Who Succeeded Long After They Should've Quit | Cracked.com

etc, etc.....

None of us know what we may "stumble into" as life progresses. We accomplished what we could accomplish with whatever job/career/time/resources we had. Now, we move forward in life, carefully, thoughtfully planning and plotting our next moves. Who knows, you or any one of us can end up becoming the next Harland Sanders, who, at 65, struggling to make ends meet, developed what came to be known as the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire?!?!?

As Yogi Berra once said "It ain't over, till it's over"...........
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:16 PM   #55
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A good discussion, interesting that even among us early retirees there is so much ambivalence. I suspect among the many who achieve FI but don't elect to retire the feeling is even stronger.

In my case, I was quite satisfied with my modest role in helping an important company, bring computing to the masses. It has been depressing at times realizing that was almost certainly my peak professional accomplishment and I continue to be disappointed not finding. a second act..

ER Eddie, I got a lot of positive feedback from this post last year. The key point was this.
Your best months or maybe years working will probably be better working than retirement.
On the other hand, your worse month or year being retired is absolutely going to be much better than your worse month or year working.

Once you come to terms with this it will be easier.
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:27 PM   #56
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I've been in One More Year (OMY) syndrome for the last 4-5 years. I gave up a "perfect" opportunity to retire last year when my employer offered a buyout package to all employees. I declined, but why? The prospect of early retirement has been my focus for the last 10-15 years. My financial assets are ~300 times my annual expenses. I hate my job. So it's both surprising and puzzling that I have not been able to retire.

With me, I do not believe it is shame or esteem, although I definitely understand these feelings. And isn't it interesting how these feelings seem to show up out of nowhere. They may not be logical, but they're still difficult to address.

My own reluctance to retire seems to come from inevitable feelings of loss. And this has little to do with lost identity. I do not identify with my job. Rather, there are feelings of lost financial opportunity. No more paycheck and pension growth (combined equaling about $400K/yr). It doesn't matter that I already have more than enough. This is still a lot to give up. Mostly, though, there are feelings of a lost career. Where I am today in my career is the cumulation of decades of work. Since high school, every gain has built upon another. When I retire, there is no turning back. I'll lose this pile of "career accomplishment" built up over the last 35-40 years. Yes, there are the financial rewards from this effort but it is still difficult to turn my back and walk away. It is as if the decades of work will have been for naught.
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:45 PM   #57
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I've been in One More Year (OMY) syndrome for the last 4-5 years. I gave up a "perfect" opportunity to retire last year when my employer offered a buyout package to all employees. I declined, but why? The prospect of early retirement has been my focus for the last 10-15 years. My financial assets are ~300 times my annual expenses. I hate my job. So it's both surprising and puzzling why I have not been able to retire.

With me, I do not believe it is shame or esteem, although I definitely can understand these feelings. And isn't it strange how these feelings seem to show up out of nowhere. They may not be logical, but they're still difficult to address.

My own reluctance to retire seems to come from inevitable feelings of loss. And this has little to do with lost identity. I do not identify with my job. Rather, there will be feelings of lost financial opportunity. No more paycheck and pension growth (combined equaling about $400K/yr). It doesn't matter that I already have more than enough. This is still a lot to give up. Mostly, though, there will be feelings of a lost career. Where I am today in my career is the cumulation of decades of work. Since high school, every gain has built upon another. When I retire, there will be no turning back. I'll be losing this pile of "career accomplishment" built up over the last 35-40 years. Yes, there are the financial rewards from this effort but it is still difficult to turn my back and walk away. It will be as if the decades of work have been for naught.
By any objective measure, this looks like a resoundingly successful career. Hardly "for naught". I think your anxiety about future "lost" opportunities says more about your psychology than it does about rationality. Your achievements at work are still worthwhile achievements even after you retire or die. If a net worth of 300 times expenses does not make you feel financially secure, I don't think a net worth of 400 times expenses will either. Your pursuit of financial nirvana has a huge opportunity cost in time. Perhaps your real fear is how to use that time in a fulfilling way. Some people need professional help making that adjustment.
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:08 PM   #58
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To appropriate a famous phrase from Martin Luther, but put it to slightly different use -- "Here I stand. I can do no other."

Here I stand. I am the sum total of my words and my deeds, all the good and all the bad. I am all the accomplishments and the failures, the relationships forged and those lost, the things I have done and said and those things I have not. I simply cannot change the half century that has gone into creating my present life. What I can do is accept it, learn from it, lift my chin up and move forward into the future. I can do no other.
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:13 PM   #59
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For me, I just never made a lot of money, $20K-$25K max/year. Most years less than that. So put a big capital L on my forehead.

I did end up having a NW over $1M. Got lucky with investments, necessity being its mother.
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:18 PM   #60
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To appropriate a famous phrase from Martin Luther, but put it to slightly different use -- "Here I stand. I can do no other."

Here I stand. I am the sum total of my words and my deeds, all the good and all the bad. I am all the accomplishments and the failures, the relationships forged and those lost, the things I have done and said and those things I have not. I simply cannot change the half century that has gone into creating my present life. What I can do is accept it, learn from it, lift my chin up and move forward into the future. I can do no other.
That is so beautifully said Gumby. It's how we should all think about the one life we have to live.
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