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I'm not looking for a job, and now I'm pretty sure I never will
Old 02-05-2012, 10:42 PM   #1
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I'm not looking for a job, and now I'm pretty sure I never will

[Warning: Long summary]

I'm working up a blog post. Feel free to contribute your thoughts here.

One of the perpetual ER concerns is "But... but what will I DO all day?!?", and military usually follow it up with the civilianized epiphany: "Geez, I could SO do that job!"

I went back through the archives and found that I've been posting about it for a while:
I'm not looking for a job, but... (Part 1 of 2) (Oct 2004)
"I'm not looking for a job, but..." (Dec 2005)
Another one "gets it" (Jan 2006)
Still not looking for a job but... (March 2006)
I'm not looking for a job, but... (a continuing series) (May 2006)
I'm not looking for a job, but... (a perpetual series) (July 2008)
What's a house painter worth? (July 2008)
Still yet even more "I'm not looking for a job but..." (July 2010) (Spouse recently asked them to stop paying her for this one)
I'm not looking for a job, but... (an endless series) (Dec 2011)

A common thread of those... threads... was that it wasn't so much the actual work that I objected to. I don't mind getting sweaty & dirty, let alone an occasional paper cut. I wanted to avoid the hours, the uniforms, the rush-hour commute, the deadlines, the last-minute crisis management, the personalities, the Sunday-Night Syndrome, and the endless meetings. Then there was the added retirement phenomenon of getting hired from a charity gig, only to be converted from "priceless volunteer" to "valued headcount".

I used to claim that my perfect job would have telecommuting, flex time, no meetings, no uniforms, generous deadlines, no crises, and plenty of time off for high surf. Oh, and I'd be paid what I was worth.

Well, dammit, it took over 30 years but it finally happened.

I've known the prospective employer for a few years, he's become a good friend, and he also set me up good. Last week over a country-club lunch he outlined a problem that he's been struggling with for years, and he suggested that I was the one to cut through the Gordian Knot and make things work. He's seen me do it a couple times already. He proposed ~10 hours/week. E-mail and a little phone. No travel. Sporadic meetings would mostly 2-3 people and I'd wear aloha shirts, jeans, & slippers. I'd free him up to work on what he does best, and I'd be in charge of the rest. Pay would be $50-$75/hour. Duration would be until we sold the company and got ourselves fired.

The more he explained the situation, the clearer it became: I could SO do this job.

When I got home and looked around, reality began to creep in. Our familyroom renovation was finished last December, but for one reason or another I still haven't finished painting all the trim. We haven't cleaned the contractor dirt off the exterior windows. I have several other messy repair projects in progress. Our yard is a tropical jungle. I need to do some conservator paperwork for Dad's finances, and then I need to start his tax returns. I have a bunch of "The Military Guide" blogging & marketing to catch up on. I need to start my tax returns. We need to buy a new vacuum cleaner. We need to haul a carload to Goodwill and another carload to the e-waste recycler. We need to put up new window shades in the master bedroom. I need to get both cars safety inspected this month. I have a couple financial spreadsheets to update. I want to upgrade our Vista PC to Win7 and update a bunch of software. I want to put new tunes on my iPod. I need to take the blog off WordPress.com and self-host it on WordPress.org to start a revenue stream. I only have three more weeks to practice blackjack basic strategy & card counting. My desk is piled high with crap that I'm going to plow through any day now.

Spouse and I haven't worked out together for months. I'm way behind on my own taekwondo and surfing.

Then spouse got home from her own 50-hour/week "volunteer" job. (It's day 66, it's only until June, and she's donating the $12K/month pay to charity.) She's doing a lot of good work, and it's for some very compelling reasons, but her job environment is everything that I object to. In addition to all my other concerns, she (and a few other members of this board) immediately busted me: "Oh, sure, 10 hours/week. Do you really think you'll be able to turn it off like that? You'll put in 10 hours on Monday and go back for more after dinner!" Well, yeah. But only for the first few weeks... oops.

Sure, we've accomplished a lot over the last six months (since the familyroom renovation started). I know that if I stopped posting here buckled down for a month of 4-6 hours/day that I'd wipe out the backlog and clear the decks for this job. I know that I'd be able to settle the job down into a routine, too, and do some good for the company.

But deep down I lack the commitment. Sure, I could rearrange my life and work on "my perfect job". However I felt that I was already supporting my friend's company enough, and I could continue that support as a volunteer without turning it into a job. I could eliminate the symptoms of his problem but I doubted that my employment would resolve the root cause of the problem. I don't need to become a part-time employee, and he doesn't need to pay me. It's never been about the money.

Apparently it's not about the perfect work environment, either.

It would appear that my perfect job is: writing. Whether that's books, blogs, or just a "To-Do" list, it seems to satisfy all my wants.

Ironically it was tough to write that explanation to my friend in the e-mail I just sent him. I think our friendship will survive it. I still want to help.

About the only other thing I seem to need from this retirement is: more surfing.

I really need to stop volunteering for new activities to extract the educational value.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:00 AM   #2
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Your reaction resonates with me. I had a few intriguing job possibilities after ER and even did some "I could so do that" projects. But this is the sentence that most matched my reluctance - "But deep down I lack the commitment." My withdrawal from the negative aspects of working life - the tensions, last minute pushes, late night wake-ups - ended up generalizing to withdrawal from any real commitment to a schedule and production. I even take that reluctance into volunteer work. I avoid volunteer commitments that require a schedule or any real productivity demands. If I can't do it on my schedule at my pace I don't sign up. I suspect your friend will understand your reluctance to risk letting him down.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
About the only other thing I seem to need from this retirement is: more surfing.

I really need to stop volunteering for new activities to extract the educational value.
EXACTLY.. Before I read the first sentence above, I was thinking, "He needs more time surfing!" From your posts over the years I have gotten the idea that surfing is something you really, truly enjoy doing. If you can't do what you want to do in retirement, then when?

You have fulfilled your obligations to your country and to the world. It's time to commune with the waves.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:28 AM   #4
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Run Forrest, run! ...

It sounds like you just need to further define what you want out of your retirement.

So somebody you know offers you a position and due to it's "conditions", you're considering it - but at the same time questioning why?

IMHO, it's up to you (heck - it is your own life). If you want to continue retirement on your own terms, you need to determine what those "terms" are.

As for me? If somebody would approach me in the same situation, I would (gently) say no. It could be the best "retirement job" (no such thing ) in the world, but if I was truly ready to live my own life, under my own rules, I would not take it.

Maybe it just took a few years (and a long "vacation"), and you've found out that full-time retirement is not necessarily for you, or you just feel that you need to "contribute" in some manner (as your DW is doing).

There's nothing wrong with accepting a post-career position, if it does not conflict with your true desires at this time of life. What they are? Only you can define/state them.

It's your life. You don't need our permission to live it in the manner you wish.

Just my simple POV...
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:46 AM   #5
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Great post.

I totally understand how you feel.

This should be put up as a blog post on The Military Guide, IMO.

I think readers enjoy more "personal" posts like this. I know I did.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:09 AM   #6
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Great post, Nords!

That really sums it up.

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Old 02-06-2012, 09:33 AM   #7
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But deep down I lack the commitment. Sure, I could rearrange my life and work on "my perfect job". However I felt that I was already supporting my friend's company enough, and I could continue that support as a volunteer without turning it into a job. I could eliminate the symptoms of his problem but I doubted that my employment would resolve the root cause of the problem. I don't need to become a part-time employee, and he doesn't need to pay me. It's never been about the money.
I can relate.

Last year, I became acquainted through one of my hobbies with a guy who owns a local biotech startup. Technically, he was in way over his head. So when he found out that I had worked in the field, he started asking my opinion regarding a technical problem that had hampered their progress for months. I was happy to help the guy and offered my opinion on several occasions. In the summer, he started saying things like "we could really use a guy like you" and it culminated with a formal job offer in late fall. The job was right up my alley, so I could have done the job. It's just that I lacked the commitment. I was fine with occasionally offering my opinion in a casual setting, but I had no desire to go back to the 9-5 grind and make this a formal commitment. So I turned him down.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:03 AM   #8
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I enjoy doing my ebay selling and could really make it into a lucrative part time job but I lack the commitment . I like the size it is now . I can put in one day a week and let it go on automatic pilot the rest of the time and still make a decent profit . Sure I could ramp it up but Why ?
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:19 AM   #9
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My friend says we're good. We'll get together this week to figure out a different approach to solving this problem.

This topic is one blog post. I'm going to have to come up with a catchy name for the phenomenon... better than "I could SO do this job". Maybe we should call it "the retirement job trap".

This was a big shift for me. I'd always assumed that if the working conditions were perfect then I wouldn't mind working-- and the pay would be just a bonus. But then we've had all the threads here about returning to work, and how much would it have to pay for you to return to work, and what conditions would you want before you returned to work.

Along the way I began to appreciate the benefits of "writing during retirement". Like playing jazz music, it's a career you have to save up for. I can tackle as much as I want, or as little.

I think that's the biggest issue-- being in charge of setting the limits on the scope of the job. If you're working with/for someone else then you lose control of those limits. And if you're giving away the money in the first place then more money has no retention value either. When I retired I found it hard to believe that I could pass up "free money", but that's exactly what's happening. I have enough. "More" is not helping.

I'm going to do a separate post on the hazards of volunteering. At first it seems so easy to volunteer for certain groups or positions, but suddenly things change and you find yourself sucked into the power vacuum or asked to take on additional responsibilities. If you've formed friendships during that period then you're dealing with issues of "retiree guilt" or abandonment, especially if you "have the time" and others do not.

Perhaps given your reason for volunteering in the first place, working there for a brief period becomes the right thing to do-- but it's still way more work than you really wanted to have.

As you can tell, I've become a big fan of giving generously of your money-- not your time.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:22 AM   #10
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Economics - supply and demand. Obviously there is some equilibrium that is saught. If you are happy with the 'Visa Card' answer, priceless, then then rest of us worker bees can scoop up the spoils and you should also be happy too. That's the one beautiful essence of capitalism (given how cruel it can be to those not 'in demand'). Enjoy your retirement and we will enjoy the rest
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:28 AM   #11
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I'm going to have to come up with a catchy name for the phenomenon... better than "I could SO do this job". Maybe we should call it "the retirement job trap".
I'd suggest "Beware of that loud sucking sound"...
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:47 AM   #12
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Interesting post, I wasn't sure how it was going to end while reading, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:54 AM   #13
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I'm really surprised by now you even entertain the thought of working for money, Nords. Next time slap yourself earlier and think, "fuhgedaboudid" as soon as an offer is made to you.

But I can see why others would take on a project/part-time/full-time job for the evil lucre or for many other reasons.
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:42 PM   #14
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Ross Perot's wording went something like Giant sucking sound.

In the OP saw the words: perfect job. Have a very difficult time reconciling the word perfect with anything resembling "job"
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:13 PM   #15
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Nords,

I think I'm made of less sterner stuff than you. Last year I was a Taxaide volunteer which involved doing some studying in November and December, taking the IRS test in January, a couple of preparatory meetings, and then from Feb 1st to April 15th working 10 hours a week (5 hrs, 2 days a week) at the local community center doing tax returns.

It was a job that was right up my street, and I thought I enjoyed doing it at the time, but was relieved when it stopped and we flew to England mid-March. I had to get up early and be at the center for 8am, 2 days a week, and we worked non-stop without a break until 1pm because there was such high demand. That meant missing some classes at the Y that I really liked, and although I cycled 3 miles to and from 'work' it was nowhere near as good as the classes and associated socializing.

This year I started on the training, but quickly became stressed at the thought of it all and decided to call in and quit. I felt embarrased and a little ashamed to begin with but that has passed. I've waited a long time for this ER thing and I really love it and not ready to miss any of it yet.

Get out and surf while you still can.
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:55 PM   #16
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Nords - could it be that all your unfinished projects were your safety net? The old "I can't take this job, I have way too much to do at home" syndrome.

Maybe now that you've been offered and turned down the ideal job, getting those projects done will be a snap.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:29 PM   #17
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I feel your pain Nords. I haven't even been ER/unemployed a week and BIL approached me to help out at his country club where he is on the board. I'm sure that I could be of value to them but I also suspect that once I dip my toe in that water before I know it I will be up to my a** and it will just be another form of w*rk.

I've been trying to say that I'm not going to think about doing much of anything until the end of the summer. I may need your collective help to stick to my guns.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:11 PM   #18
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can tackle as much as I want, or as little.

I think that's the biggest issue-- being in charge of setting the limits on the scope of the job. If you're working with/for someone else then you lose control of those limits.
I think this is really the clue to finding something to do in retirement . I enjoy ebay on my terms . If they suddenly said I had to sell a certain amount or leave I would leave .
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:52 PM   #19
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I'd suggest "Beware of that loud sucking sound"...
Michael Corleone syndrome: "Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in!"
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:22 AM   #20
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On days I don"t have things to do,I try a different micro-brew that I never had.I know, I know,It"s a rough hobby but someone has to do it.Whatever makes you happy.I never cared what the status quo thought.Mostly propaganda b.s.
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