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Were/are you more relaxed with the end in sight?
Old 10-18-2011, 01:29 PM   #1
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Were/are you more relaxed with the end in sight?

Since setting my retirement date, even though it is six years away, I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel less stressed/trapped by my job. My tolerance has increased. The things that annoyed me are still there, the stressors still grinding at me, but with the end in sight I just don't react anywhere near as strongly. I don't take it personally anymore, I guess. It's too soon to have a "short timer" attitude, so maybe this is just a healthy attitude adjustment towards "life" in the work-life balance.

I'm still interested in my job, and I still (mostly) enjoy it. Once I'm there, I'm engaged and challenged and looking for ways to improve and do better. It's just that when I am away, I don't look forward to returning. Sunday evenings, I'm bummed out that my weekend of practice retirement is over. Mornings, I am reluctant to jump out of bed and face the commute. Even deciding what to wear each day is tedious and leaves me mildly annoyed and looking forward to a time I can wear whatever I want without concerns for "appropriate" and "professional".

I am not just counting the days, I am counting the paychecks. I am paid monthly and I see it as seventy-two more opportunities to save, which makes the end date seem even closer.

I'm wondering if other people experienced this change in attitude, and if it was a long-term shift, or just a passing phase? As it is, I'm smiling a lot more, and with my closest co-worker (who is my age) making occasional comments of "six more years!" I'm trying to rein that in for fear of becoming a tedious bore. If you experienced a similar attitude shift, did it escalate, making work perversely MORE difficult as the end neared? What tactics do you suggest to cope?


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Old 10-18-2011, 02:52 PM   #2
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Starting at about age 55, I realized I was 'fire proof", ie even if I lost my job, the severance would cover me until my pension kicked in. The realization that I could/would survive really helped me relax. I've found I'm more willing to take chances or to speak my mind; I'm less willing to let people push me around. I've also found that I don't care as much about what's going on around me: I'll deal with the problems, but I'm far less concerned about the outcome. Strangley enough, this detachment has made me far more efficient: I get things done.

Like you, I started doing a count down. I discovered an interesting phenomenon: the years have sped by, but the closer the end date comes, the more time has slowed down. I swear October has lasted 10 weeks already.

I also find that, as I get closer, I'm less sure of what my final decision will be: take a pension and begone; take a pension and work part-time; work part-time to the equivalent of the pension. Five years ago, there was no question that it would be a full-time pension.

One other thing I discovered: STOP Talking About It! I had talked about it with co-workers and colleagues. Next thing I knew, the director was asking about my retirement plans. I want to go on MY terms, not theirs. Be careful how much you say and who you say it to. The powers that be may think that you're coasting and start looking for ways to replace you before your own axe drops.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Indigo Mule View Post
Since setting my retirement date, even though it is six years away, I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel less stressed/trapped by my job. My tolerance has increased. The things that annoyed me are still there, the stressors still grinding at me, but with the end in sight I just don't react anywhere near as strongly. I don't take it personally anymore, I guess. It's too soon to have a "short timer" attitude, so maybe this is just a healthy attitude adjustment towards "life" in the work-life balance.

I'm still interested in my job, and I still (mostly) enjoy it. Once I'm there, I'm engaged and challenged and looking for ways to improve and do better. It's just that when I am away, I don't look forward to returning. Sunday evenings, I'm bummed out that my weekend of practice retirement is over. Mornings, I am reluctant to jump out of bed and face the commute. Even deciding what to wear each day is tedious and leaves me mildly annoyed and looking forward to a time I can wear whatever I want without concerns for "appropriate" and "professional".

I am not just counting the days, I am counting the paychecks. I am paid monthly and I see it as seventy-two more opportunities to save, which makes the end date seem even closer.

I'm wondering if other people experienced this change in attitude, and if it was a long-term shift, or just a passing phase? As it is, I'm smiling a lot more, and with my closest co-worker (who is my age) making occasional comments of "six more years!" I'm trying to rein that in for fear of becoming a tedious bore. If you experienced a similar attitude shift, did it escalate, making work perversely MORE difficult as the end neared? What tactics do you suggest to cope?


--Michelle
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2193 days and counting
I did a lot of that sort of thing - - started my countdown at around 2650 days, and so on, though I only confided with one or two close friends at work, mainly with one friend who retired two months after I did.

Some people find this makes work more difficult. However for me, it was not a problem because it was still important to me to behave as a conscientious, responsible professional right up to and including my last day. Every time I passed a milestone and things were progressing on schedule, I felt victorious. It is great to see a plan fall into place.

I love your idea of considering each of your 72 future paychecks as an opportunity to save!
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:59 PM   #4
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My BIL put up post-it notes with numbers on his bulletin board, showing the number of months to go. No one noticed them, but he said he felt a thrill every time he pulled one off.
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Old 10-18-2011, 10:32 PM   #5
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As the pieces of my ER plan were falling into place in 2007 and the first half of 2008, I was still plagued with the daily question I asked myself, "Why am I still working here?"

But once I picked my ER date of October 31st and gave my notice on September 30th, the annoying question I wrote above no longer buzzed around inside my head. Instead, I had a real countdown of the number of days (starting at 9, I was working only 2 days a week) which quickly became hours then some "lasts" in my final week and day.

There wasn't a lot of drama although some people wanted me to stay. It was no secret that I was quite unhappy working there, especially after I had cut my weekly hours worked from 20 to 12 in 2007.

My one big challenge at work was to complete the big project I had been working on for most of my time in the last 2 years. I had picked October 31st as a best guess for finishing the project, as I did not want to leave them in a lurch nor did I want to stay longer if I did not finish it. So there was some pressure on me which I had not had before. But I finished that project at about 4 PM on my last day, 45 minutes before I left the office for the last time.

My other big challenge in my final month was to get all the paperwork in place for the liquidation of my 401(k) and valuable company stock. This was a rather complex liquidation which needed some special instructions as well as a Medallion signature from a bank manager and my notarized signature. I also had to fit in an exit interview and a review of the ~10 pages of forms for the liquidation. So there was some stress there (especially in the morning at home of my last day, when I became nauseous) but that was a good trade for losing the annoying question, "Why am I still working here?"

It has been 3 years since that exciting month but I am glad I don't have to go through it again.
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Old 10-19-2011, 01:09 PM   #6
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There wasn't a lot of drama although some people wanted me to stay. It was no secret that I was quite unhappy working there, especially after I had cut my weekly hours worked from 20 to 12 in 2007.
I've toyed with the idea of working just 3 days a week, which would be the equivalent of my pension, but the health benefits would be paid by the company. OTOH, having 3 days on and 4 off is basically just having a long series of long weekends, which always end with going back to work. ugh!

Did you find that you resented the hours you spent at work as an encroachment on your retirement?
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Old 10-19-2011, 01:52 PM   #7
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I've toyed with the idea of working just 3 days a week, which would be the equivalent of my pension, but the health benefits would be paid by the company. OTOH, having 3 days on and 4 off is basically just having a long series of long weekends, which always end with going back to work. ugh!

Did you find that you resented the hours you spent at work as an encroachment on your retirement?
Working 3 days a week (20 hours) was split into two parts. The first was actually a mostly telecommuting deal in which I went to the office one day a week to work 6-7 hours, then worked from home the remaining 13-14 hours. This lasted from 2001-2003 when the company ended such open-ended telecommuting arrangements. I was still allowed to work the 20 hours per week, I just had to put in those hours from the office.

This was a terrible change for me, as I had developed a good personal life with my newly found time. My volunteer work and resurrected hobbies became tougher to schedule around 3 long and tiring trips to the office. I had some freedom to schedule those 3 workdays which were usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, giving me a 3-days weekend most of the time along with a weekday off during the week to break things up. But I surely resented this change and knew it would be my eventual undoing (i.e. quitting).

I retained eligibility in the company's group health plan although the company froze our pensions at the end of 2001 and put in a cash-balance plan for those of us not grandfathered in. Very importantly, I also remained in my company's ESOP plan even though I would not reveice as many new shares every year with my reduced pay. However, all of my existing shares continued to grow in value as the value per share expoloded in the 2000s. As long as I was employed by the company, I would enjoy this huge growth in my ESOP.

After about 3 1/2 years of the 3-days-a-week thing, I had to reduce it because I could not stand it any more. Reducing the weekly hours worked from 20 to 12 eliminated nearly all of the remaining benefits I had such as eligibility in the group health program (which I protested bitterly, offering to pay 100% of the premiums and that was rejected). I lost my already reduced paid time off but that was not a big deal because I was now working only 12 hours per week over 2 (non-consecutive, a considerable improvement) days, getting me home an hour earlier than before in addition to one less day. This also made it quite a bit easier to schedule my outside activities but still held me back from some of them as much as I wanted. So this work reduction eased some problems but the resentment remained to a degree.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:33 AM   #8
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After I hit the age 55, over 30 years at mega corp my attitude has actually gotten quite a bit better. Even though the company pension was frozen years ago I saved like mad and am now in a much happier place. With no worries about being laid off ( go ahead make my day), I'm actually more productive and happier in the workplace. No more counting the days for me.
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:46 AM   #9
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I think I will probably work about 3 more years. With that end in sight, I think I have become less tolerant of the stressful situations these days. I just keep dreaming of the day when I no longer have to deal with the constant problem solving.
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:24 PM   #10
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Simple answer, YES!

Started crossing days off of the calendar back in 2008, so needless to say now that Iím down to 344 more days my attitude is entirely different. With each passing day I realize that on this day next year (October 20th) I will be doing whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it!

First on my list, taking a long road trip in the RV with DH, and two dogs - golfing my way South on the Robert Trent Jones golf trail on our way down to Gulf Shores!
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Old 10-20-2011, 05:45 PM   #11
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I've got 17 years left before I hit 55 and can retire, but once I had a plan, came up with a target number and saw I could save that amount per month, month after month, it definitely felt pretty good. I have a "I can survive if fired from my job" date around the age of 48 (the mortgage gets paid off that year) so that will be an awesome year. Just 11 years to go!
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Old 10-20-2011, 05:53 PM   #12
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I've got 17 years left before I hit 55 and can retire, but once I had a plan, came up with a target number and saw I could save that amount per month, month after month, it definitely felt pretty good. I have a "I can survive if fired from my job" date around the age of 48 (the mortgage gets paid off that year) so that will be an awesome year. Just 11 years to go!
Laurence, don't forget the 3 weddings that are in your future.
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Old 10-20-2011, 05:57 PM   #13
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Laurence, don't forget the 3 weddings that are in your future.
I'm a liberated, egalitarian, modern feminist man who believes in empowering my daughters and teaching them the value of LBYM and self sufficiency....in other words they are hosed!

.....the above statement is probably a lie. I've convinced my wife to help pay for my SIL's college (she's only 17 now, I've known her since she was 3).
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:14 PM   #14
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I've got 17 years left before I hit 55 and can retire, but once I had a plan, came up with a target number and saw I could save that amount per month, month after month, it definitely felt pretty good. I have a "I can survive if fired from my job" date around the age of 48 (the mortgage gets paid off that year) so that will be an awesome year. Just 11 years to go!
You sound like me at the same age. We retired our mortgage at age 45, ready for the first of our 2 to go to college.

At age 49 the 2nd was half way through college and that point we really could focus in on the end game. A year later I took a 'fun' assignment in a different State, and DW quit her job. A couple of years later and the monthly countdown clock started. Similar to an earlier post, I put the number 36 in a corner of the whiteboard of my office and decremented it by 1 each month.
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:55 AM   #15
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I have 3 years and 8 months before ER. Although my name is Retire 2014, these days, I am thinking I will ER in April 2015 instead because of certain financial benefits if I stick it out until that date.

I feel less stressed at work knowing that the end is in sight. I still feel like it is such a long way off though.

I also find that although I stick to my asset allocation I still feel a certain melancholy on days when the Market drops several hundred points; I worried if I will still be able to ER on my desired date?!!! Not if the Market does not cooperate, etc. Then there is the matter of Health Care Reform in 2014, etc. What if that does not come to pass and between now and ER I may get diagnosed of something and won't be able to buy health insurance. So these are the issues that cross my mind from time to time. Whenever I feel a certain degree of anxiety about these matters, I just revisit my Excel spreadsheet of income, expenses, and planned savings and I see that I have a very concrete, workable plan in place. In addition, I LBYM. Knowing that I am doing all that I can do while counting down gives me peace in difficult times.

Thank you for your Thread. It is quite thought provoking. Best of luck with your countdown.
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Old 10-22-2011, 09:58 PM   #16
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With no worries about being laid off (go ahead make my day), I'm actually more productive and happier in the workplace. No more counting the days for me.
Ditto (and good for you! ).

Call me a victim of the 'one more year syndrome', but I find that because essentially all of the stress is gone there is no immediate pressure to hang it up. I don’t worry about my work targets, the stupid computer system, my incompetent secretary, or anything else, really … knowing that I can leave anytime I want has made all the difference. And I now take my full allotment of vacation time, which I previously felt unable to do.
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Old 10-23-2011, 01:46 AM   #17
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I have less than one year to go. No countdown for me. Although my job is stressful sometimes, it is easier to manage than what it used to be.
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I feel less stressed at work knowing that the end is in sight. I still feel like it is such a long way off though.
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Old 10-23-2011, 04:10 PM   #18
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Enjoyable thread. I find it interesting how quitting a job that you've had for many years, a job you have invested so much of yourself, effects people so differently.
The company I'd been with over twenty years was purchased by a direct competitor. (So much for anti-trust laws). I was part of the team to close it. That was hard work, physically, mentally and emotionally. But my bonus funded the down payments to increase my real estate holdings: bought two more rental properties. The end came quickly. One day I finished the task. Next day I cleaned out my office. After a two week "vacation" to Hawaii, I had voice message to come talk about another job in the same company. Retirement over. Hawaii was great!

After a year I took another position in a third operation. After two years headquarters decided to close that facility. Yep, I ended up closing that one too. Another nice bonus. But not nearly as much invested emotionally into this one. I just finished the work and left. But this time I was 55 and carried away a company group retirement medical option. I soon picked up more real estate: an eight unit apartment complex. A real job was becoming less important. This is significant.

Fast forward ten years. I've since worked as a consultant (tons of money, but no job satisfaction), maintenance manager (very little money, lots of job satisfaction), and house husband and nurse (no money, lots of stress).

In summary, I never had to announce a retirement date; never had to count down the days; never lay awake at night stressing about facing one more day. Technically, I never really retired! One day I just stopped going to work. So no, the mental anguish that many here have experienced never happened to me. And it sounds horrible.

Still, a nice little retirement gathering with toasts and lies about what a wonderful manager I had been, how much I will be missed, and kudos for the loyalty to the company all those years might have been nice...nah.
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Old 10-24-2011, 09:40 PM   #19
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My employer took care of the problem for me. They had financial problems and the told me they had to "let me go". I was out of there the same day. I saw it coming, however, it seemed better to just hang in until they cut me. They really did me a favor. I was planning on leaving in the next year or two but never got to the point of having a target date. I had been part time for the prior 4 years as the company started to fail.
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Old 10-26-2011, 09:57 AM   #20
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Great topic! I've run the numbers and am FI, but want to keep going until my son is done with high school (2 1/2 more years). In addition, if he goes to school where I work, he gets 1/2 price tuition. So there are a few things holding me here. Since becoming FI, I feel like work is less stressful and my guess is others here have had the same experience. Oh, also have a DB vesting issue and need a little more time for that...not a necessity, but would be nice to have....so with all that said, tentatively planning to take off in 1,529 days
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