I wrote this post in 2014, 2 years after I retired from my engineering career. Even then, I struggled to come up with the things I miss about full-time work. For me, being a SAHD/blogger is so much better than working in a corporation. Has there been any change since then? Now that I’ve been retired for 8 years, my feeling is a bit different. I’ll give some updates throughout the post. Check it out!
Things I miss about work? This is a tough one for me to write. First of all, life is fantastic right now after 2 years without a full-time job. (8 years after early retirement now.) Family life is better, I’m not stressed out, and even our finance is doing pretty well. I can’t complain at all. Second, I hate dwelling on regrets. It isn’t productive and I prefer to focus on the present and figure out how to improve the future. Maybe that’s why my memory is so bad… It’s also difficult for me to admit missing anything about the career that I willingly walked away from. I don’t want to doubt my decision. So as you can see, it’s not going to be my typical cheerful post today.
However, I thought it’d be good for me to examine how I feel about work on a deeper level. It has been 2 years and it’s the right time to reflect a bit. Time gave me some distance so I can take an objective look at my feelings. Do I miss work enough to go back? Let’s see.
One thing I don’t miss is this terrible cubical environment. Imagine sitting here 8-10 hours/day for 40+ years. It’s like a jail cell.
1. Technical challenges
I think the biggest thing I miss about work is the gratification from solving technical problems. Most engineers enjoy solving problems and it can be a lot of fun especially when you get into the flow. Many times, I spent the whole day in lab debugging an elusive bug and it’d be 7 pm before I knew it. Those productive days were increasingly rare as I gained seniority, though.
As a SAHD, the most difficult challenge for me is to figure out my son’s playdate schedule. It’s not quite as challenging, but life is also a lot less stressful. It’s a tradeoff. Maybe once my son goes to school full time, I can take on some technical challenges again. I would like to learn how to develop an app, for example.
*2020 update – Ha! My son will be in 4th grade this school year, but it will be virtual schooling due to the pandemic. I won’t have time to take up any new challenge this year. In any case, I don’t miss technical challenges anymore. I guess I got used to the easy life.
According to a study by the Center for a Secure Retirement, 65% of retirees said they missed interacting with co-workers and friends the most. That’s pretty obvious. Most of us spend at least 50% of our waking hours working and interacting with our co-workers. Work is a huge part of our lives and human interaction is the best part of it.
Sure, I miss having a wider group of casual friends to talk to. Life is a bit slower in semi-retirement and my circle shrunk quite a bit. I made a few friends through our kid, but everyone is just so busy with their lives. It’s not like the office where you can just drop by your friend’s cubicle and complain about the boss. I guess coworkers are somewhat of a captive audience. 🙂
*2020 update – I only kept in contact with 2 of my old coworkers. We have lunch once in a while so we can talk about their early retirement. I don’t miss the camaraderie anymore because I got used to working alone. Luckily, I made some good friends through my son so I have some social outlet.
3. Fringe benefits
I used to go to the gym at work almost every weekday and I miss it. It was really easy for me to go to that fitness room for some reason. I guess it was better than actually working and it was a great stress relief valve. It was also very conveniently located.
I joined a gym, but it’s more difficult to actually go. I have to get the kid ready, drive to the gym, find parking, etc… It’s not very convenient so I’m not consistent about it.
Some other benefits I miss.
- Company parties – free booze, music, and activities.
- Free public transportation passes.
- Free food and coffee.
- 401k matching – free money!
- Payroll tax – employers pay 50% of your payroll tax. I have to pay 100% of the payroll tax now that I’m self-employed. 🙁
*2020 update – Okay, I still miss these fringe benefits.
4. So what do you do?
Whenever I meet someone new, they inevitably ask “what do you do?” I miss having an easy answer to this question. I’m still trying to figure out how to respond to this conversation starter. I tried “I’m retired” a few times, but it didn’t go over very well. People seem to just ignore that for some reason. Another option is – blogging, but I’m a bit embarrassed about telling new friends that I’m a blogger. I just don’t want to elaborate too much. My staple answer now is “I’m a stay at home dad.” That works pretty well for now.
*2020 update – After 8 years, I’m a lot more comfortable with it. I don’t tell people “I’m retired” anymore. Usually, I just say I have a blog. People don’t really dig into it much.
5. A steady paycheck
Actually, our lifestyle hasn’t changed that much since I left my job 2 years ago. We always lived below our means so we didn’t have to make any big adjustments. A steady paycheck would have been nice because I could have invested them. The last 2 years were great for the stock market and I’m sure we’d increase our net worth even more if we had more money to invest.
Anyway, having less income didn’t impact our day to day life so it’s not a huge deal. Our investments are doing pretty well so I can’t complain too much.
*2020 update – I don’t even miss my old paychecks anymore. These days, I have passive income from our investments and my online income. Those income streams are enough to pay our living expenses so we can save all of Mrs. RB40’s income. Having some income after retirement is very assuring.
I love self-employment.
That wasn’t as bad as I thought. I miss a few things about work, but they could all be remedied with some creativity. They are minor issues anyway. I could write a much bigger list of what I don’t miss about the corporate job. For me, the positive aspects of not working for a corporation outweigh the negatives so I don’t think I’ll get a job anytime soon. I love being self-employed.
*2020 update – I still love being semi-retired. 2020 is a tough year because of all the uncertainties, but it’s a good stress test. If we can get through this year, then we’ll know my wife can retire early. As you can see from my updates, I don’t really miss much about working in a corporation. I’m very happy with the decision I made in 2012.
What about you? What do you miss about work? Or if you’re still working, what do you think you’ll miss?
Bonus video from Conan!
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