I’m willing to bet that almost every one of you has dreamt about the day when you no longer have to deal with your 9-5 workday routine. I have to laugh though when I think about me and that kind of timeframe. I certainly didn’t 9-5 most of my work life, especially in my jobs in retail management. More often than not my work hours spanned an earlier start time at around 8 a.m. and ran into evenings, weekends, and holidays with many weeks running 6 days.
In fact, I’d guess that I almost never worked a 40-hour week and typically did 50-55 hours as a matter of routine. So, yes, I can honestly say that I did dream of the day when I would sleep in, roll out of bed whenever I felt like it, and then do pretty much anything I’d ever want to do without worrying about the old clock on the wall!
Retirement Day Does Come, But in Lots of Different “Flavors”
The first thing you think of when you think about not working is doing so by choice. Typically, retirement comes after one works for many, many years, into the last quarter of their lives e.g. ages 65 and up. This is why some folks get so hot and bothered if you aren’t in the upper ages, but say you are retired. They don’t think you deserve retirement because you’re not old enough!
I guess if you don’t want that unwanted attention as an early retiree, just say you are unemployed, on a sabbatical, or you’re an entrepreneur. It might help avoid lots of questions, but maybe not! Your friends and acquaintances will probably want to know every detail of what happened or how you did it. Hell, you may wind up writing a blog about it…you know what I’m talking about here, right?
FIRE, the Financial Independence and Retire Early movement, is so much on the minds of so many these days, including the strain for those folks to hit their goal of FIRE before 50, 40 or, yes Martha…30! That’s a subject of an awful lot of bloggers.
The terms financial independence and early retirement are often used interchangeably, but financial independence is usually applicable to people across their entire lifespan. Those who cashed out their $5 million dollars of Facebook stock at the age of 30 are financially independent just like those who saved $5 million in their retirement funds by the age of 65. But FIRE and early retirement are not the only causes for staying home and avoiding the “rat race”.
We are What We “Eat”, No Wait I Mean “Do”
Have you ever been there? Losing your job, being “laid off”, “downsized”, “replaced by automation”, or just plain fired? If you haven’t had any of those experiences, you are probably in the minority these days. It happens all of the time and when it does, that’s when a real dose of reality settles in your brain. Those daydreams of free time and sleeping in have suddenly become real and you probably didn’t see any of it coming nor have you prepared for it. Now what?
Self-esteem and your job have a pretty interesting connection when you think about it. Can just having a job increase your self-esteem? Do people who work have higher self-esteem than those who don’t?
Can your job increase your self-esteem?
Self-esteem or self-worth is the belief that you are an important and worthy person. The more you manage to feel important, the more your self-esteem will rise. If your job allowed you to feel important or if you believed you are contributing to a company you are working for, then your self-esteem will rise. But when you “lose” your job you may feel a lot less worthy. The same can actually happen to you even when you leave your job. The way your job affects your self-confidence will depend on two factors, the first is your psychological identity and the second is your perception of the task you are doing.
Your psychological identity
The psychological identity is the way you believe you should be. A narcissist, for example, has the belief that he is more important than others. If you want to make a narcissist depressed, then let him work in a place that makes him feel that he is not important or worthy.
Let’s suppose that you were obsessed with being in control. In such a case, working for a controlling boss will make you feel helpless and as a result, your self-esteem will fall. In other words, if the job you are doing didn’t help you fulfill your important needs, then it will lower your self-esteem. Not having a job at all will certainly lower your self-esteem and even your mood suffers.
My own experience
Years ago, when I worked as a store manager for a large department store chain, I never understood why I was constantly feeling down. After all, I was earning a good salary, working for a large company, and enjoying good benefits, yet something felt wrong. The problem I was never aware of at that time is that my psychological identity was being a leader and so I had serious problems taking orders from my district group manager. Add this to the way some managers were better “friends” with this manager than I was and you may understand why my subconscious mind started feeling that I was less worthy.
When it comes to self-confidence, your subconscious mind will always be monitoring your progress and if it finds you going against your psychological identity, it will lower your self-confidence.
After experiencing that job, I realized that something was wrong and that my self-esteem was being negatively impacted. I decided to seek new employment as the chief operating officer of a specialty chain of stores. In just a few months, I had my self-esteem back.
The Many Reasons We “Daydream” About Retirement
There are large numbers of people who are extremely unhappy with their careers. As Drew Carey said, “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.”
If you are one of the few who just happens to love what they do, are super fulfilled, make great pay, and have lots of leisure time, will you consider adopting me? Seriously, you are one of a lucky few if this describes you. The reasons for job unhappiness are many, such as: boredom, low salary, burnout, too many years at the same work and it is no longer challenging, absence of a career ladder for advancement, work that’s below or above your abilities and skills, not enough vacation time, and an environment unresponsive to your needs.
There are two questions you need to learn the “you” answers to and they are: When should I quit my job? And what job is right for me?
The Negatives of Good Old-Fashioned Retirement
Ok, you are on your own because you actually wanted to be…you’ve retired! Is it all peaches and cream, afternoons by the pool, and quiet walks in the park with your dog? Not so fast. Try some of these disappointments on for size!
1. You become more impatient with delays and waste. Traffic and long lunch lines used to annoy me, but now they really annoy me because I don’t experience them as much anymore. I get annoyed with myself for going anywhere during peak rush hour. I really try not to meet anybody if I have to commute during the hours of 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. I have to remind myself when it’s bumper to bumper, thank goodness I no longer have to deal with such jams on a regular basis.
2. I get lonely sometimes. While friends and acquaintances are busy working, I sometimes am busy doing nothing. It’s easy to feel disconnected if you’re always working, or not working, from home.
3. I get lazy. I find myself taking hour-long naps after lunch, watching Judge Judy (including re-runs), and watching too many sports on TV. It takes a lot more discipline once you’ve retired to push yourself to do something meaningful, because nobody is telling you what to do.
4. I have potentially less money. This one is obvious, but maybe not. You only voluntarily retire and stay retired if you have enough money to support your desired lifestyle. It’s a different situation if you are forced into retirement. It did sting a little bit to no longer have a healthy W2 income, however, just like how we adapt quickly to a nice bonus or raise, we also adapt quickly to a loss of income. The fear of running out of money in retirement is not overblown.
5. Vacations aren’t as exciting anymore. I used to love taking three or four weeks of vacation every year. If my old job would have granted 10 weeks of vacation a year, I would have stayed on longer! Now that we can go on vacation 365 days a year, it’s just not that exciting anymore.
Suggestions for Retirement
Try to spend less time on social media. It’s very easy to get sucked in.
Get to know more of the unemployed. No matter what time during the day I go out between Monday and Friday, there are tons of people out on the street hanging out. When you’re working, you think everybody is holed up in an office building and only comes out during lunch or when the clock strikes 5 p.m. In reality, plenty of people are out and about, so make some new friends.
Get inspired. Take on a new hobby…blogging comes to mind. Or get into helping others or just try to hang with other retirees at the senior club in town. Why not try volunteering at a charity or mentoring a child if you start feeling aimless. There are studies that show death comes quicker after retirement due to a lack of purpose. With the internet and so much good we can do once we have our free time back, I can’t see how anybody would ever feel permanently lost in retirement.
Retiring early can be a blessing because our bodies still allow us to climb the steepest Mayan steps and start the most daunting businesses when we still have the energy. FIRE doesn’t mean that you sit on the recliner and just watch TV. What it more than likely means is that you now work at something you love at your own chosen speed, just for yourself and that feels pretty good. It’s just too bad that I came to realize that in my 60’s and not about 30 years ago!
Are you a FIRE devotee? Is retirement on your horizon now? When will you retire and what are you doing make your “dream” come true?