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Talk me into it
Old 06-26-2020, 10:38 PM   #1
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Talk me into it

Iím 56, still working, 10M++, and canít bring myself to retire. I know my DW and I are more than fine financially even with the chaos of the last few months. I could quit tomorrow.

My job is very demanding. I work in the tech industry where change is never ending. Iím no longer technical as I gave that up a while ago to be a leader and people manager. Most of the time I like the job but always feel behind, somewhat overworked, and stressed. I am feeling my ability to manage and stay on top starting to slip. I have an incredible job in many ways including great prestige, almost full autonomy, and pay that far exceeds my value add. My stress is self induced as Iíve never learned how to coast. I donít believe that I could find another similar job elsewhere.

I donít have any kind of plan for how Iíll spend my days in retirement. That is keeping me from quitting work. Iím very afraid that Iíd instantly and forever regret giving up my great but somewhat overwhelming job for boredom and meaningless days.

My question is what did you do to proactively plan your retirement before you quit? Did you have similar concerns about leaving the working world when your self image is wrapped up in your career etc? How do you spend time now in retirement to give back to the world and have real impact?
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Old 06-27-2020, 03:33 AM   #2
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Speaking as one who has been there - if your life is your work, or rather if you define yourself by what you do, your choice is 1/make the break yourself or 2/wait until it is done to you. If you wait for 2 you will have the added stress of being rejected by the very thing that defined you. Better to take control: since money isnít the issue, you have the luxury of imagination - take the time to plan, explore your inner interests and even fantasies about what youíd do with freedom from the day to do, explore with your family what would be important to them. There are different answers for everyone, from simply putting the feet up and dozing through the days, to active volunteering, to long-delayed projects or learning interests, to reconnecting with a spouse who has been sidelined in the rush to success, to etc and etc.
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Old 06-27-2020, 05:51 AM   #3
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Given the general agreement on 3-4% withdrawal rates lasting one through one's lifetime, you are definitely 'more than fine.' Your dilemma is psychological. You appear to be driven, possibly Type A (?) and would need stimulation and a sense of purpose to make it through retirement. Perhaps approach it like Bill Gates. You may not have his billions, but you could at least *do* philanthropic things, assuming you have some passions that don't involve network diagrams and org charts...

Our retirement was driven by wanting to travel and experience other cultures before we became infirm. We've mostly achieved that, between Latin America and RV-ing. The one part that does still bother me at times is the 'impact' part. Legacy. Haven't figured that one out yet, exactly.
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Old 06-27-2020, 06:24 AM   #4
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I had the same problem before I semi retired, my way out was easy, even though my career defined me as a person, I feel like Iím losing out on things that I would really enjoy more like watching my daughter grow up, spend more time with my family, travel more etc. Iím in the medical field and retired last year at the age of 44, also with 10M plus, I kept only about 5% of work that I was doing before, 15-20 hrs per month, enough to keep my license, and found out that work has become more enjoyable, I can still have the status that defined me and also enjoy my time off, at some point i found out money isnít everything, we all have a limited amount of time on earth and it is up to us what we want to do with it. Good luck to you
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Old 06-27-2020, 06:43 AM   #5
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You're 57, in Tech, and no longer actually technical. Unless you've reached whatever 3 steps above your standard VP level is, your days are already numbered.

But no one can talk you into this. You don't seem remotely ready (emotionally) but you're probably overly-ready financially. You can only do that work yourself. What do you want to do? If you were RIF'd tomorrow I don't think you'd adapt well, so start planning that way - as if the decision might be forced on you, vs. yours to make.

My self-image was never "wrapped up" in my career, but it was certainly a part of it. It faded pretty quickly, probably because I was planning to ER for years and overly ready for it, so I knew I'd never have regrets. And I ER'd more than 10 years younger than you are now. Less assets, but probably less than 20% of us here have over 10m when we retired.

So to this part:
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmva View Post
My question is what did you do to proactively plan your retirement before you quit? Did you have similar concerns about leaving the working world when your self image is wrapped up in your career etc? How do you spend time now in retirement to give back to the world and have real impact?
Proactively, I asked myself years ago - if you won the lottery today what would you do? I started a small creative business - the kind of thing 7 year old me would have said I wanted to do, without worrying about income. Was a "side gig" while working, and is now a part time hobby business. I have a "I'm a this" answer to what I do. If you want to give back to the world support a charity or your religious organization or feed stray cats, wherever your passion lies.
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Old 06-27-2020, 07:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Aerides View Post
But no one can talk you into this. You don't seem remotely ready (emotionally) but you're probably overly-ready financially.
That sums it up nicely IMHO.
I've had several friends in a similar position, and they all worked until they dropped. I have to say they seemed happy doing it (or at least very contented). None of them could imagine doing anything else and they had no real hobbies or outside interests.

Take care of your health and perhaps one of these days you'll suddenly look at your life differently. We're not likely to convince you right now.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:06 AM   #7
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I'm one, that's not going to try to talk you into retiring. Your work defines who you are and I believe there are people that need to work till they drop. Your job is who you are and the stress of you not having that status, may kill you sooner then if you stopping your work that you love.
If your happy working stay working. I can tell you one thing that if you stop working the place you worked at will not miss a beat going forward.
Good luck.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:15 AM   #8
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Itís been said, ďYou know when you know.Ē
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:40 AM   #9
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What would you want to be doing in retirement? If the answer is more or less the work you are doing now, then maybe you shouldn't leave. As long as the stress isn't debilitating, I think it is healthy and normal to have some level of stress in a daily role. Make sure it isn't to an unhealthy level though. I'm just trying to give you encouragement that it is OK to keep working.

That said, if you have anything else at all you'd like to use your time to pursue that would be fulfilling and challenging, you should really examine that deeper and use that as motivation to move on from your work.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:51 AM   #10
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IYour work defines who you are and I believe there are people that need to work till they drop. Your job is who you are and the stress of you not having that status, may kill you sooner then if you stopping your work that you love.
Well said, and this is EXACTLY what I've struggled with since also giving up a very high paying, Silicon Valley Tech Job ~a year and a half ago.

It's been tough, no doubt, and most days I really do miss the prestige, the pay, the sense of "self-worth" and achievement/accomplishment. My job WAS a very big part of me. And the pay was heavy six figures, plus RSUs. I walked away from what today would probably be worth ~$500K+ of RSUs that hadn't yet vested. Boy, that'd be nice to have now, especially after the recent market volatility. In short, I've felt like a total idiot many times (at least half if not 3/4 of the days since) for giving it all up.

All that said, my dear wife has reminded me that the job was absolutely killing me - and it was. The stress was off the charts unmanageable and something I really can't describe adequately. Suffice it to say, if I had stayed, I may very well have been carried out of there in a horizontal position, feet first. BUT - I essentially traded that stress for a DIFFERENT kind of stress, and as "street" wrote, the stress of not having the status or the identity is perhaps slowly killing me in a different but related way because I haven't coped with it well AT ALL.

We have a pretty solid financial plan (OK, HAD a pretty solid financial plan - my CD dividends have been pulverized to pretty much zero, stock dividends have been cut, and equities have gotten hammered..aside from that, it's just swell), and I do miss the days when I didn't have to worry about what something cost. DW and I are thinking about building our retirement home and have a signed agreement on a vacant parcel of land to do it on (still in our due diligence period), and I'm stressing beyond words about the cost - which has more than doubled since we last built in 2000. That means we'll need 100% of the equity in our current home, PLUS another pretty big chunk of cash (well into six figures) or so to do it. Yeah, that's a big deal when there's no paychecks coming in. So, even though we probably are just fine financially, it's a whole different ballgame when you look at big expenditures and think "crap..there's no W-2 income coming in now to replenish whatever I pull out of the piggy bank". Don't underestimate that..it's a very scary feeling to know that the piggy bank is not infinite or inexhaustible. Add in what could be Great Depression 2.0 due to the impact of COVID, and if I had it to do all over again knowing this was all coming, I would have toughed it out a couple more years..

Anyway..we're roughly the same age and both in Tech (although like you, I long stopped being "technical") so I totally get it. Only you can decide, but I feel your pain and empathize completely.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:55 AM   #11
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You really do need to retire to "something". Some people get laid off or quit working because of the toxic work environment, etc, and having no clear plans on how to spend their time in retirement, they end up feeling lost. Actually, I quit because I was moving out of the country to be with DH. I had a plan on how I wanted to spend my time, but my list was short, and it didn't take that much of my time, so after 2 years of that, I felt lost, bored and depressed. It took me another two years to get into my sweet spot, and I am happy now, but I was a workaholic (IT entry level manager with a insane amount of work including weekends and nights), so it wasn't easy for me to lose that identity at the beginning, so I understand your dilemma.

Do you have a lot of hobbies? How do you want to spend your time after you retire? You want to have a few things that make you say, "I would love to do these only if I had more time!" Maybe you can do some consulting on the side for a while just so your identity is still somehow intact?
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:16 AM   #12
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You are not ready. You like being in charge. You like the control that management brings you. Prestige appears to be an important factor for you and how you view your worth. The money you make is now just icing on the cake. You pretty much said all these things. What you did not mention was anything that you do outside of work that makes you happy. I bet you forgot how to enjoy your life away from work. You might want to talk to your past 6 year old self for some guidance. Until you do you might as well stay where you are.


Cheers!
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:24 AM   #13
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You, sir, are not prepared for retirement.

It's time you found some hobbies, and take a little time from the job for yourself.

Travel the world, golf, woodworking, boating, fishing. Choose something you have interest in.

You never know if and when you get an offer to sell your business. You will be in trouble if you get an offer you cannot refuse and just walk out "cold turkey" with nothing to do.

And this is something you need to start doing immediately. Take a 1/2 day off a week to do something for yourself. Take it in baby steps. But take that first step immediately.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:37 AM   #14
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To the OP, I agree with others that we really cannot talk you into it. Unless you have something to "retire to", you are not in a position to retire, and should keep working. From you first post it seems that is what is most important to you.

It may take a radical event - e.g, injury, an illness diagnosis, loss of a loved one, etc. - to make you reconsider.

I was also in tech, in a great job that payed me much more than I ever expected. I did not retire to run from it, I retired to things I wanted to choose to do beyond it.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:38 AM   #15
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OP--
You mention you like your job, but the majority of your post is about stress and overwork, fear and regret.
What do you and DW like to do on your time off/vacations/weekends? What makes you happy and at peace?
Are you involved with other Family? Friends? Church or religious affiliation? Any charitable or volunteer organizations you are interested in or willing to give time too?

You clearly have enough to retire, although you don't mention spending level or plans.

Forum members directed me to one of my favorite books: Ernie Zelinski "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free". The entire book is great, but the Get a Life exercise really opened my eyes.
Best of Luck to you. Come back and keep us updated.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:58 AM   #16
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Understand your thoughts. Tough decisions even though you have the monies.
I had a high paying Wall Street job in charge of 72 people. Took a package, expecting to find another job but didn't and then discovered I could retire.
Thus the 15 month search for the job let me slowly not miss the prestige/power/monies of the previous job.
That's all I can say is that even though I didn't retire to planned activities/hobbies in retirement, I would never go back to work now and don't miss one thing about it and I liked my job.
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:03 AM   #17
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You really do need to retire to "something".
This is really the bottom line. I retired "from" something (a very toxic, extremely high stress job) and didn't have anything to retire "to". Oh, sure, I thought of all the fun things I could do..and did do for the first year or so. Then, COVID hit, and we've been all but locked in our house since March. All those fun things wife and I were doing to fill our time are no longer possible at the moment..at least not without taking on more risk than we are comfortable taking (for example, I wouldn't get on an airplane today for many millions of $$s - no way Jose, so travel is out for now). So the question of what is beyond the fun, time filling things is even more pertinent than before..
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:20 AM   #18
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You are not ready. You like being in charge. You like the control that management brings you. Prestige appears to be an important factor for you and how you view your worth. The money you make is now just icing on the cake. You pretty much said all these things. What you did not mention was anything that you do outside of work that makes you happy. I bet you forgot how to enjoy your life away from work. You might want to talk to your past 6 year old self for some guidance. Until you do you might as well stay where you are.


Cheers!
+1 keep on working. You will know when you are ready.
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Old 06-27-2020, 11:21 AM   #19
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I'd frame it as thinking of what you do on your time off.... weekends and vacations... and then mix in what you would like to do if you didn't have to work (bucket-list type stuff, any volunteer work that you would like to do, old hobbies or sports rekindled, etc.).

Then have your favorite beverage and ask yourself... would I rather work or do that stuff?... and you'll have your answer.

While I really enjoyed my job and had a great situation, I moved away from viewing my job as who I was to just an aspect of who I was. I had voluntarily taken a position that plateaued my career and enjoyed my role as a subject matter expert in the firm. I also downshifted to part-time due to some family issues and enjoyed it so much that I never asked to go back to full time.

While some friends and family were indeed skeptical when I announced my retirement... they were afraid that in 12 months I would be climbing the walls and I shared that concern in the way back of my mind... in reality it never came close.

I took up golf with new vigor, had time to do favors for family like serving as court-appointed guardian for my grandmother and later my great-aunt, did occasional construction project for us and family and friends, some volunteer work at a local food pantry, etc.

So as it ended up one of the biggest surprises was how a former allegedly Type A guy could be so content just puttering around and not doing much of anything in particular.

Come on in... the water is just fine.
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Old 06-27-2020, 11:30 AM   #20
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Iím going to make an assumption that the OP went to college - if so so what did you do during the summers? Get a job, always work, or did you hang out with friends?
Iíve had this theory that if you worked long and hard during you college summers - you might have a tough time dealing with unstructured time.
Just a theory...
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