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Was Your Final Job "Sustainable"
Old 11-07-2011, 07:08 PM   #1
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Was Your Final Job "Sustainable"

I was chatting with a few fellow workers (I am in the class of 2012 I hope) about how much more we all seem to be working in the past few years. 30 years ago, I did my 8 hours went home and did not think about work until the next work day. Sure, there were late nights at times, and sometimes weekends, but only once in a while.

Now, that seems the norm. I go in early, stay late, take home work for the evening and for the weekend. The problem is that for many workers this does not seem sustainable. Already, some of the married with children group are wondering just how much time they have to spend away from the children in order to deserve a paycheck. Even some of the married with no-children folks are commenting on how little they see their spouses. Single people groan under the weight of having to so everything for themselves at home.

Was you pre-retirement job sustainable? That is did it allow your to spend time on the rest of your life. Or did it consume your life?
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:25 PM   #2
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Sustainable if I was 30? Yes, probably.

But sustainable over 60? Towards the end I was exhausted and falling asleep when I got home. I just don't have the youthful vigor any more that I had earlier in life.
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:45 PM   #3
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Yes, very sustainable. I was a programmer when I retired in 2006 and worked a low stress ,flat 40 hr/wk
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:59 PM   #4
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I always worked in information technology and we always had the worse hours and schedules. I would go in early and leave at a reasonable time or go in at a reasonable time and stay late. I used to take home work or have technical reading in the evenings.

After I reached 50 I just took a 9-5 job with a smaller company. The work was easy and I was eventually able to semi retire about 4 years ago. I think something bad would have happened to me had I kept up the crazy hours that I had earlier in my career..
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:37 PM   #5
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I am working a 40 hr week, which is divided into 4 - 10 hr days. That of course gives me a 3 day weekend every week. I like my job pretty well (Quality Assurance for DoD at a major defense contractor). My work is inside a modern electronics production facility, climate & humidity controlled, where I encounter almost 200 smiling faces daily, am treated respectfully, people always hold the door for each other, stop by the office & share friendly stories, just a generally pleasant and even relaxing environment...so yeah, I could stay on this gig for the foreseeable future without much trouble.

However...I have other things I want to do, or not do....
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:53 PM   #6
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Not really much more than 40 hours per week for either me or DW for our entire careers and two kids. We sustained it well enough. I was having trouble paying attention at meetings and staying focused on work for my last year or so, either due to age or being close to FI. It was time to quit before it became too much like work. Kind of like being a teen again.
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:26 PM   #7
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I put in a 40 hour week, but not a real solid 40 hour week. I mean I work for the government after all. Nobody seems to care when we come and go, as hardly anyone is ever in the office. I have my android phone and spend a lot of time on it or on outlook being an email junky to keep up with everything.

We have consultants that we drive like slaves when we get busy. They get paid a lot better and have actual benefits and their employers reward them for working hard. But the government job flexibility and lack of stress is our reward. It is like a volunteer gig where they pay you on a fixed schedule. There is a lot of responsibility, but the bar is set so low organization-wide that it is hard to really screw up. Everyone in my group does a decent job because we want to make our projects successful so we are more marketable to our future employers when we find something more awesome to do.
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:50 PM   #8
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I put in a 40 hour week, but not a real solid 40 hour week. I mean I work for the government after all. Nobody seems to care when we come and go, as hardly anyone is ever in the office. I have my android phone and spend a lot of time on it or on outlook being an email junky to keep up with everything. .
(Edited to add: this statement from a year ago should clear things up.... )
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I am an engineer working in an engineering firm with a lot of other engineers who have kids.
Fuego, please be completely clear and open - - are you a direct federal employee? Or even a direct state employee? I thought you worked for a company that contracts with the government and were NOT a direct federal employee at all.

Your post really makes government work sound like a scam, and IME it was not in any way, shape, or form. People did care when we (PhD's and engineers, along with everybody else) came and went, and for example we (PhD's and engineers, plus everybody else) had to leave signs on our cubicles if we were gone more than 5 minutes even to go to the bathroom. If we left 3 minutes early at the end of the day, we were docked for 15 minutes of vacation time. Even reading a newspaper at our desk was grounds for disciplinary actions and possibly dismissal. I feel like after putting up with all that for years and years, posts like yours give us an undeservedly bad reputation.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:01 PM   #9
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...

Now, that seems the norm. I go in early, stay late, take home work for the evening and for the weekend. The problem is that for many workers this does not seem sustainable.
AMEN!

That's exactly why I RE'd last year. After many years of this, much of it due to "executive busywork" requirements (not truly useful to the organization or the shareholders), I decided that it was time to take the benefits of decades of our family's LBYM and put my time to better use.

I realize I was very blessed to have the choice, and I am sad for my former coworkers who still need to live in that world. And even more sad that so much incredible talent is going to waste in this toxic environment.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:10 PM   #10
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When I was in my 20s, I had much more energy than I had in my 30s. I also had a shorter standard work week, as it was expanded from 35 hours to 37.5 hours. I was getting home early enough to be able to do stuff many nights after work.

But once in my 30s, I was becoming more and more worn out from the daily grind, especially the commute, as I was getting home 30 minutes later each night, on average, making it tough to do anything after work on Mondays-Thursdays (I still went out on some Friday nights).

This greatly contributed to my burnout by the time I turned 35 (which was when I paid off my mortgage). Three years later, I stopped working full time and switched to part-time, relieving the burden of the long work week and worsened commute due to my company relocating slightly further away.

But the burnout relief was temporary, as it took another 7 years to get sick of even a part-time commute even though I had regained my personal life. When I first switched to part-timem I was pretty sure I would be able to retire by age 50 or 55 but as those part-time years wore on I realized that even age 50 would be too many years to put up with the sickening commute. I had to get out soooner than that, and I did.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
I put in a 40 hour week, but not a real solid 40 hour week. I mean I work for the government after all. Nobody seems to care when we come and go, as hardly anyone is ever in the office. I have my android phone and spend a lot of time on it or on outlook being an email junky to keep up with everything.

We have consultants that we drive like slaves when we get busy. They get paid a lot better and have actual benefits and their employers reward them for working hard. But the government job flexibility and lack of stress is our reward. It is like a volunteer gig where they pay you on a fixed schedule. There is a lot of responsibility, but the bar is set so low organization-wide that it is hard to really screw up. Everyone in my group does a decent job because we want to make our projects successful so we are more marketable to our future employers when we find something more awesome to do.
Fuego, it you found the gravy train and are coasting, you probably want to start looking over your shoulder. This is a type of cognitive dissonance for me, because I hear others say things like this but the people I know that are (or were) public employees work long hours, are not well paid and deal with as much stress as anyone else. Many family members (parents, siblings) and very close friends, so I cannot reconcile one with the other, and feel they are not the outliers.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
I put in a 40 hour week, but not a real solid 40 hour week. I mean I work for the government after all. Nobody seems to care when we come and go, as hardly anyone is ever in the office. I have my android phone and spend a lot of time on it or on outlook being an email junky to keep up with everything.

We have consultants that we drive like slaves when we get busy. They get paid a lot better and have actual benefits and their employers reward them for working hard. But the government job flexibility and lack of stress is our reward. It is like a volunteer gig where they pay you on a fixed schedule. There is a lot of responsibility, but the bar is set so low organization-wide that it is hard to really screw up. Everyone in my group does a decent job because we want to make our projects successful so we are more marketable to our future employers when we find something more awesome to do.
This almost sounds too ridiculous to be a serious post. Are you joking?
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:31 PM   #13
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Your post really makes government work sound like a scam, and IME it was not in any way, shape, or form. People did care when we (PhD's and engineers, along with everybody else) came and went, and for example we (PhD's and engineers, plus everybody else) had to leave signs on our cubicles if we were gone more than 5 minutes even to go to the bathroom. If we left 3 minutes early at the end of the day, we were docked for 15 minutes of vacation time. Even reading a newspaper at our desk was grounds for disciplinary actions and possibly dismissal. I feel like after putting up with all that for years and years, posts like yours give us an undeservedly bad reputation.
OK, then how did you get away posting here on the forum?
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:32 PM   #14
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Fuego, please be completely clear and open - - are you a direct federal employee? Or even a direct state employee? I thought you worked for a company that contacts with the government and were NOT a direct federal employee at all.

Your post really makes government work sound like a scam, and IME it was not in any way, shape, or form. People did care when we (PhD's and engineers, along with everybody else) came and went, and for example we (PhD's and engineers, plus everybody else) had to leave signs on our cubicles if we were gone more than 5 minutes even to go to the bathroom. If we left 3 minutes early at the end of the day, we were docked for 15 minutes of vacation time. Even reading a newspaper at our desk was grounds for disciplinary actions and possibly dismissal. I feel like after putting up with all that for years and years, posts like yours give us an undeservedly bad reputation.
I have worked some awful jobs, but I was never treated like that. I would have split in short order.

I do not get the obsession with time in the cube. I do a same good job at something nobody in my entire organization even understands. Who cares when I arrive or leave?
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:27 PM   #15
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My job was not sustainable when I worked 70 hr weeks 25 yrs ago, but now working 2 days a week I have a little bit of time to pursue other interests. No pressure now and very sustainable.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:47 AM   #16
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I am a contractor and have been for years. It changes the way one looks at work and stress. I do not feel exploited now. When I was staff, I had much more stress. I look forward to overtime...because I get paid well for it. It is also not as common as unpaid overtime when working as staff. So, Yes, my job is sustainable.

Please, no one dis government employees. I suspect that their stress levels are higher than outsiders might appreciate. The original social contract was trading lower income for a secure future--steady job and good retirement benefits. Except now, the job security and the good bennies are evaporating. There are duds, of course, but they add to the stress levels of the conscientious ones. Besides, think of all the damned meetings they have to go to.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:10 AM   #17
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I worked for the Federal government for 31 years. Neither I nor any of my friends at work were slackers. There were a portion of slackers around but private sector friends complained of the same. I was a supervisor and manager for most of my career so I always did performance appraisals. My take on my subordinates was that about 1/3 were great 1/3 were good, 1/6 were marginal to OK and 1/6 were useless. My at-the-office hours were stable and sane (40-48 hours depending on what was happening) but I also took work home for most of my career. For the last 12 or so years I was tethered 24x7. I didn't find that tethering overly burdensome but the attention it demanded added up.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:17 AM   #18
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I always worked in information technology and we always had the worse hours and schedules. I would go in early and leave at a reasonable time or go in at a reasonable time and stay late. I used to take home work or have technical reading in the evenings.
That was my experience after almost 3 decades at the company I retired from, in various positions within IT.

In the last decade, it became unbearable with the travel involved (25% spent in euroland -where HQ was located), along with having to be at wo*k at 3 AM when back in the U.S. - to attend a conference call at 9 AM euro time (6 hour time difference).

The travel, the hours, and the increasing BS lead me to retire earlier than expected. OTOH, I'm glad the company encouraged me (by their actions) to leave a bit earlier than planned.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:40 AM   #19
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Reminds me of an old quote from then CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, Ken Olsen.

INTERVIEWER: "So, Mr. Olsen, how many people work at DEC" ?

Ken Olsen: "About half of them".
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:46 AM   #20
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OK, then how did you get away posting here on the forum?
Shhhhhhhh!
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