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Old 12-07-2008, 07:54 AM   #21
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As much as I seek "early retirement," what I'd really prefer was a j*b that didn't drive me into *wanting* to retire as early as possible. I'm pretty sure, in retrospect, that this was my calling -- my career "fat pitch" -- and I missed it.

Anyone else?
I envy people who love their work so much that they wake up eager to go in on Monday morning. No real reason to ER in that case. But they are few and far between. Often the things that most appeal to you would get old fast if turned into a job. For example, I did a lot of SCUBA diving in my 20s. I thought about turning that into a career but realized that I wouldn't like it -- work in a shop, ugh; teach and lead dives, sure but for how long? Late in my career when I switched to IT I discovered I "love" the techie aspects of IT. But I suck at it. I don't really have the patience to excel so a techie career would have been a disaster. Various evaluative "inventories" and tests during my career always showed I had the right set of "people" skills and ADHD driven mile wide/inch deep expertise needed to do what I did -- senior management. And all the feedback I got told me I was good at it. The problem was I never really liked it very much -- thus ER.

Now that I am FIREd (four years in) I find that I do love that. Still, it would have been great to align a passion with employment so I could have been as happy with the 35 years or so I worked as I am with ER.
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:04 AM   #22
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Started out as a land surveyor / civil engineering tech. Then came an opportunity to become a nuclear power plant operator. I didnt take the job and I'm glad I didn't, although the engineering / surveying world is a little shaky now. The power plant job probably would have been repititious and boring, and not allow the semi-re situation that I enjoy now.
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:23 AM   #23
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Do over? Could I be the second baseman for the Boston Red Sox? I still could retire about age 35 or so. After that career was over, I'd do 5 years in broadcasting, then retire again and move to a warm island. Why didn't I think of this in the first place?
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:41 AM   #24
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First, this is a flawed question! You may have the same wife, as you might have met her before career started, you most like would have the same kids, if you had the same wife. Probability you would not have the same friends, live in the same place, have the same standard of living, job stability, or any of a thousand other thing that would be different.

Sure, how about Tiger Woods, or maybe Lottery winner, or name any other fancy fun filled thing you could think of. I will wager that with the exception of famous sports personality there is some representation on this board, and, everyone of us/them would do something different. Maybe not the entire career but something within the career. Studied harder, worked harder, worked less, not moved somewhere. There is always a negative to get away from.

Now having said that. I would not have changed career choices. Jet Pilot, Appraiser, Computer Programmer, Manager. Might have done some of these differently but would still have done each, as each led me to where I am. RETIRED.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:14 AM   #25
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I am happy with how things turned out, but I sometimes dream of liking my job well enough to not WANT to retire early. I suppose at some point when we're financially independent I can leave my current job and pursue something where I don't need to be motivated by the pay, but that's several years away (and a lot farther away now than it seemed a year ago).
Upon further reflection, I wonder which comes first. Are we born programmed for ER, or do we settle on ER as the alternative after deciding that our career options suck?

I think most people sleep better at night by ensuring against unemployment. Then one day they realize that they've ensured against lifetime unemployment and, as Dory says, shortly after that epiphany the BS bucket always fills to overflowing.

The avocation crowd never even dreams that they could end up unemployed (or at least lack for spending money) and so they never even plan for ER... I saw Magic Johnson on Charlie Rose the other night and he was so enthusiastic about his non-profit avocation that I was almost jealous.

Me-- I think that ER is my avocation. I just have to make sure that I don't work too hard at it and burn out...
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:48 AM   #26
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Upon further reflection, I wonder which comes first. Are we born programmed for ER, or do we settle on ER as the alternative after deciding that our career options suck?
I don't think we are born programmed for ER. At least they haven't found the gene yet!
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Old 12-07-2008, 02:44 PM   #27
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If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken that small bit of inheritance money I used to partially fund college and just double my money every year up until now when I'd live in my solid gold tiki shack on the beach.

I still can't imagine a job I'd like, so it's either millionaire playboy or what I'm doing now I guess.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:48 PM   #28
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As much as I had thought I wanted an academic career, there is no way I would choose one over the Wall Street career I ended up having.
WallSt is an unknown world to me, but I know, same as Taleb wrote in his books, it recruits lots of mathematicians, scientists and engineers to train as "quants".

One of the employees with PhD in our business venture left to go to Wall St. We don't know how he is doing. Can't be worse than if he stayed with us.
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:33 PM   #29
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First, this is a flawed question! You may have the same wife, as you might have met her before career started, you most like would have the same kids, if you had the same wife.
Every mating opportunity, even between the same man and woman, produces different results. Observe how different siblings often are.

So my answer to questions like this is no, I wouldn't change anything, even though much of it might have turned out better. Why? Because I like the kids I have, and I like the life I had & have.

Ha
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:02 PM   #30
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agreed!
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:18 PM   #31
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I have a Zoology degree and planned on becoming a ranger. However, in the late 70s there was a glut of 'Nam vets who wanted to be out of society, so there were no openings available. I became a computer nerd out of desire to make money, and it worked out OK. Over the years I met a number of Park Service people who were not too happy with their jobs. They wanted to be Ranger Rick, but instead they were either customer service reps or DEA agents.

I'm currently applying to do some volunteer work for the Park Service in both locations I live in. On the shore I'll be a grumpy old man dude on a bike chasing people away from the ponies on Assateague. When back in Northern VA I'm thinking of doing some volunteer farming up at Mount Bleak State park. I think these activities are in line with what I used to want to do, as opposed to looking for reefer farms along the Appalachian Trail.
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:37 PM   #32
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I've made the career choices I have because the other careers I wanted didn't offer a very stable home life. I would have loved doing national disaster response / planning (FEMA, or the Red Cross), or public health lobbying/policy. Those jobs, however, tend to require extensive travel and that's not something I'm interested in doing as a parent/spouse. So my career Mulligan would pretty much put me back where I am, as it turns out.
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Old 12-08-2008, 05:13 AM   #33
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Sign me for the Astronaut club also. Fighter pilot would have been fun for a few years.

In the more likely category, history professor and Google Employee.
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Old 12-08-2008, 06:48 AM   #34
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Would have loved to be a dancer - you know, the kind in musicals or on cruise boat shows, etc. Not very practical, and my dancing skills are nowhere near that level - but had they been, this would have been a fun career for a short while!
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:56 AM   #35
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I think the answer is more about who you are than what you do or did. It's about your attitude toward whatever you are doing. A person can always find some pretty good reasons to be unhappy or to be happy with whatever the circumstances.

I look back at my short stint in the Navy, for instance, and remember those years fondly. I remember lots of excitement shooting 5" guns, ASW weapons, war exercises and all manner of manly things. I recall conning the destroyers I rode alongside replenishment ships, among ships in formation, and into new berths after being at sea. Boy was that fun. What I DON"T seem to remember as well is the tedium, the anxiety, the fear, and the lack of sleep that went along with it.

I've thought about this question before, and the answer is to do as many things as you can fit into your life and still get by comfortably. Early on, money did not drive my actions. I've worked as a laborer, a plumber's helper, an auto worker, a musician, a surveyor, a teacher, a researcher, a design engineer, a manufacturing engineer, and a corporate manager to name some. Most of these I did before getting married. The beauty of having done so many things is that you don't have to wonder "what if" so much when you're putting in the 25-30 years to support the family you created.

But, to answer the original question, what other path would have been more enjoyable? I can only compare what I've known. Here would be my perfect occupation: Teach a class until noon, survey land in the afternoon, play in a band until mid-night, and be a tour guide to somewhere new on the weekend. Of course someone else would have to prepare for class and grade papers; do something with all the data I collected in the afternoon; put in all the hours of practice necessary to perform well at night; and take care of the chores and maintenance that are needed that I would normally take care of over the weekend.
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:03 AM   #36
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Wow... interesting question... and some great answers so far! I am currently 35 so do not have as many years in as some, but here are my thoughts. Believe it or not... I think the biggest reason I became an electrical engineer was preceisely because I was NOT good at it. Seriously though....my SAT scores were 680 verbal and 550 math. Horribly poor math score for someone seeking to do engineering work. But it was a field that I found interesting and challenging, and that is why I wanted to pursue it! I understand that I am different from a lot of people in the way I think , and do things. But I have always wanted a bit of challenge in my life. I think that if I ever found my job EASY.... to the point of not having to push the limits of what I currently know, it is not a job I would want. For my life to have meaning for me, it must be filled with challenges to overcome. I intend to earn my victories in life.

But like lots of people... there was one that got away. My biggest dream in college was to use my knowledge of electrical engineering and go into the special effects industry in the movies. To have been part of the team that built the "terminator" robot would have been my dream job. I applied to lots of special effects houses, but it never really went anywhere. (I still have the rejection letter I got from Industrial Light and Magic.) From what I had been able to piece together, almost everyone in the special effects industry works as a contractor. You work on one movie for a year or more, and then hopefully get picked up by the same, or another special effects house to work on the next film. The downside being it is a very "feast or famine" insdustry. You might find yourself out of work for years at a time depending upon what films are being made, and when. Ultimately, I decided that sort of a lifestyle was just not for me, so I went into engineering fields that were a bit more stable. Fairly happy so far... but every now and again I wonder about what if I had taken that other road.
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:22 AM   #37
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Wow... interesting question... and some great answers so far! I am currently 35 so do not have as many years in as some, but here are my thoughts. Believe it or not... I think the biggest reason I became an electrical engineer was preceisely because I was NOT good at it. Seriously though....my SAT scores were 680 verbal and 550 math. Horribly poor math score for someone seeking to do engineering work...
But like lots of people... there was one that got away. My biggest dream in college was to use my knowledge of electrical engineering and go into the special effects industry in the movies. To have been part of the team that built the "terminator" robot would have been my dream job...
have you seen Iron Man? the computer generated mechanical workings of the suit were fabulous. i may buy a copy just to watch that part over and over.
test scores are not always an indication of aptitude. it is really too bad they are used, as well as GPA, as filters for aspiring technogeeks. it is the Eureka! and the ability to reduce an idea to practice that defines a good engineer, not being able to do the equations in a room full of blackboards.
let the theoretical folks do the equations - they are best at it and we love them for that . but we engineers are the designers and builders!
i had straight A+'s in HS, but barely got 2.85 for undergrad BS Physics. so, my GPA was terrible. big wooooooooo. i worked 20 hrs a week in College WorkStudy as a physics lab asistant. that's where i learned the real stuff. i started but never finished a MSEE. i got bored with courses cuz i wasn't learning anything. but...i can claim 1 US Patent, and another issuing very shortly. 2 more remain in pending status and the decision to issue or not should come very soon. these are my personal measures of "hey, i done good". my mom was so proud!
i wish i had saved my dozens of rejection letters from way back when.
Follow your dream!
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:07 AM   #38
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I would have done things a little differently. I dropped my accounting major to go to finance. If I had a "mully", I would have done the following:

1)Stayed in college an extra semester to get the accounting degree and concurrently take the pre-CPA review course. Graduate, and sit for the CPA exam ASAP.

2)Found an employer that would have paid for my MBA, I would have been willing to sign a contract agreeing to stay for a set amount of time.

3)Made sure I got a paid or unpaid internship to a local business.

That's about it. The year I graduated, I took the ARM certification (Associate in Risk Management). I passed, and my plan was to get a job working for megacorp as a risk manager. However, there were no jobs without an MBA in that field when i was looking, so I ended up working for a small insurance company instead.

Timing is EVERYTHING.......
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:30 AM   #39
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I am from the era when women were teachers , nurses or secretaries and since I could not type secretary was out and teaching did not appeal to me so I spent forty years in nursing . Their were days when I hated my job but they were far outnumbered by the days I enjoyed my job . It was physically hard ,mentally challenging but the gratitude I received from patients made it all worth while . So I'll pass on a do over career wise and marriage wise !
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:12 AM   #40
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Something easy (once you're licensed), lucrative, flexible, and protected by a guild: pharmacist.
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