Slowly Sipping Coffee

Retiring Early Creates a Perspective Shift at Work

This week has been crazier than usual and has me a little out of sorts. I hadn’t felt in the right mindset to write anything even with a funny idea like “Our retired greyhound needs an ikigai” sidenote – she does though, the transition from racing 69 races to retired has been a little rough on her. Even animals go through a transition from career to retired and it’s not always smooth.

It’s been a bit hectic at work, which is a nice change of pace, and the work has been fun but man, some people just haven’t figured out their new roles in this reorg. This week has made me so glad that today is my Friday. Yippee for the 9/80 schedule where I get every other Friday off! Seriously, since 9am Monday morning, I’ve been looking forward to today. Even with a positive perspective shift on Monday morning, it still only took 3 hrs of work before I was ready for the weekend. Here’s how it got to that point so quickly and why I’m excited about spending tomorrow outside, trimming bushes, doing yardwork, and weeding the flower beds.

Road Rage Monday Morning Kickoff

It all started in traffic Monday morning. Houston drivers typically act one of way two ways. They’re either super aggressive or they’re scared of driving in traffic, ugh… Monday morning, I had someone cut into my lane and nearly sideswipe the front of my car. I hit the brakes and honked and they looked up from their phone, flipped me the bird and stomped on their brakes. Yeah, I love Houston traffic. You’d think it would stop there, but no. This person then spent the next ½ mile yelling into their rear view mirror before I decided I’d just change lanes and avoid the situation. I move over 3 lanes and go on my way only to get cut off and brake checked by this same guy 3 miles later. I again just change lanes and maneuver to get to my exit, and think nothing of it other than being “adrenalined up” now.

After exiting the interstate I get to the first stop light, and who zooms up behind me and starts honking and flashing their lights – random road rage guy. Seriously, what a way to start a week. Good Lord…

That guy needs to let a lot of rage go...

That guy needs to let a lot of rage go…

“Outside of Scope” Annoyances

Imagine you’re working on a new project and that work is going smoothly and is on track, when someone not on your team or working on your project shows up to one of your weekly meetings and tries to derail the whole thing, causing a lot of extra work for you to do that didn’t need to be done just because they don’t understand the project to begin with. It was the kind of meeting where I wish I could just stand up and say, “Get… Out! You’re adding no value and bringing up things that have nothing to do with the scope of this project.” Ugh, it was a treat for all involved.

The real joy however, was when he showed up Monday morning to gossip to me about a meeting he was in last week and no one in there understood anything they were doing, but he set them straight about it all. I set down my tea, looked at him and said, “Tom, I was in that meeting, and you caused me a lot of unnecessary work from your suggestions. The few points that you brought up that were relatable to our project have already been addressed prior to that meeting. What can I help you with, because I need to get back to work.”

I’m generally not that short/rude with people, but after the traffic incident and the meeting incident from last week, I was not in the mood to deal with “Tom”. After a short dialogue, he was on his way and I realized it was only 9 am on Monday and I was ready for the weekend.

No case of the Mondays here!

No case of the Mondays here!

This Isn’t Going to Last Forever

Then I got a perspective shift. I sat down (I have a standing desk and normally stand at my desk 6-9 hrs a day) turned around and just watched the sunrise and the non-stop stream of traffic out my window. It occurred to me, none of this really matters. Yeah I’ve had a rough morning, but unlike “Tom” I’m not going to have another 20 years of rough mornings due to work. Talk about changing your persepctive for the better. Whoa!

My boss is always telling me he’s amazed with my laid back demeanor and the fact I don’t let things get to me even when it’s a ridiculous demand or deadline or being told I need to redo everything I spent the last 2 months working on because the petrophysicists decided their models were wrong… Yes, that happened. I would say that at work, yep, I’m pretty laid back.

'Nuff said...

‘Nuff said…

Maybe it’s because I know this isn’t the end all be all in my life. Maybe because some part of me knows that there’s an end – and it’s mostly going to be of my choosing. I mean I could still get laid off at any point, but beyond that, I’m looking at 2 more years tops that I would need to keep working.

I think that accounts for a lot of that perspective shift and being able to not sweat the small stuff at work. In 3 years working here, I’ve found it’s all small stuff.

Okay it can't ALL be small stuff

Okay it can’t ALL be small stuff

Plus, I have tomorrow off. I can get out my lawn hat, put on some shorts, and go trim the bushes, weed the flower beds, mow the yard and generally “Zen out” doing yard work. I get a nice meditative sort of feeling while sitting there just pulling weeds, trimming bushes and doing all the stuff most people find annoying. So, I can’t wait for the alarm to not go off tomorrow and just wake up when the kids get me up. Get them dressed and walk them to school and then come back, sip some coffee, and get ready to begin my day.

Do you think your perspective at work would change if you could see the end of your working days coming up soon? Do you ever have weeks like mine – it didn’t stop at Monday, or get any better. What do you do when you have those days/weeks?

33 thoughts on “Retiring Early Creates a Perspective Shift at Work

  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Ugh, sorry to hear work has been a drag. At least you can take a breather today. 🙂 Houston traffic IS SO BAD. I learned how to drive in Dallas traffic, which is similar–it feels like Mad Max just trying to get to the store.

    My perspective at work has definitely changed, but I’m not sure if it’s for the better. My job is really clerical and loves red tape, so it’s easy to be disenchanted. I’ve had a harder time giving a crap because I don’t find the work to be fulfilling–it’s just a means to an end for me. There’s nothing super wrong with that, but it makes for a very long career pushing buttons. 😉 The upside is that it motivated me to start writing more seriously. I’m starting to explore side gigs that actually interest me. As an added bonus, I can rake in a little bit of cash. 🙂

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah – like Mad Max, haha but seriously… It’s like Mad Max. 🙂

      It’s interesting how your perspeectives can change in so many ways when you start looking at life in different ways than the norm. Plus side, at least you’re writing more and getting some side gigs going on. I just don’t have the drive for much effort on side gigs after the end of the day. 🙂

  2. EZ Does It FI

    You’re 2 years and I’m 2 months out. I’ve actually not worked such long hours since leaving the platform. But it’s because I’m focusing on what I enjoy and what I can take with me. New book? Yeah boss, I’ll buy it out of pocket. Learn SAS? No, I’ll learn R cause it’s freeware. Work is so much fun these days!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I like being able to work on what you enjoy working on, that definitely makes work more awesome than not. Minus this past week being a bit out of sorts, I still have been enjoying work and even my “new” reorg position and role. But man – this week sure has been out of sorts.

  3. Ellie @ The Chedda

    “Yeah I’ve had a rough morning, but unlike “Tom” I’m not going to have another 20 years of rough mornings due to work.”–what an amazing perspective. It’s just staggering to me how long the average working life is. I’ve been in the workforce for less than five years and I can’t imagine working even 20 more. 40 more?! No way!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I second that! 20 more years? Please, no!

      Seriously, that guy recently celebrated a birthday in his late 60’s and I felt kind of sad for him. I shouldn’t because he likes work and all of that, but man – it just reaffirms how much I don’t want to have a “normal” career. No wonder people have mid-life crises or get burnt out. That’s such a long time to do anything.

  4. Fervent Finance

    My work is project oriented so things ebb and flow with projects which last 3 to 6 weeks. A project can be smooth sailing (rarely) or it can be a lot of late nights and stress. The projects lately have been very stressful. I’ve definitely gotten better at handling the stress I think. Mainly because I know I’m not making a 20+ year career out of this job (or even 10+). I’ve gotten much better at saying “I can’t do that tonight, I have plans” or just saying “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” Hasn’t really affected my relationships at work or my reviews, so I’m going to keep on keeping on!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      The best exchange so far has been when “Tom” and I were working on a separate project together. My alarm went off at 3:30pm and I said, “Well, it’s time for me to leave, let’s pick this back up tomorrow.”

      He asked me, “Oh, are you in a vanpool?”

      I replied, “Nope, it’s just time for me to go home.” And then I smiled really big.

      Like you, I found that leaving on time hasn’t done anything to negatively affect my performance ratings or reviews. They’re more focused on what I do between getting here and leaving and not necessarily the clock watching aspect of it.

      Keep on keeping on!

  5. Mrs. COD

    Yikes, that’s an awful lot of confrontation in a short period of time! Glad you survived the road rage dude; those situations can escalate scarily. And nice job keeping mostly cool/laid-back. Knowing retirement is closer for you than most has to help with perspective!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yep, Monday morning was an interesting one, lol. I figured if he followed me into the garage, I’d just drive around to the security guard area and get them involved since he’d be trespassing at that point. No sense getting shot over traffic, but it happens around here more often than you’d think.

      Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and knowing it isn’t a train, does wonders for perspective. 🙂

  6. Brian @ Debt Discipline

    Not a good way to kick off your week dealing with some dumb-ass on the road. My work perspective has changed just by switching jobs. Hasn’t Mrs.SSC’s? My worst day at my current gig is still better than my best day at my former company. When bad feeling creep in I remind myself of that. It’s certainly plenty to carry me through.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      You said it…

      My perspective did a 180 after changing jobs to this company, and minus the one off weeks like this one that happen maybe once a quarter, I still love it here. This week has just been one of those – OMG, is it Thursday yet? sort of weeks.

      Mrs. SSC’s perspective has also changed dramatically by switching jobs. She’s engaged, loves what she’s doing and is happier all around.

      Like you said, my worst day here is still better than my best day at my last company. That in itself is uplifting – and sort of a sad statement on my last company. 🙂

  7. Amber tree

    At work, there are indeed these people that come in and disrupt a nice running project… Not easy to deal with. It takes a lot of time and effort, that is better spent elsewhere.

    That is one of the reasons I changed job… We are now a small team, we all want the same and try all to minimize the delays. I have no idea of what Iw ill do once that changes. Changing again I think.

    That seems to be my pattern…When I do not like it, I change. I am curious to see when I hit a limit here.

    All the best for the next 2 years. It looks like you have found the right spirit and attitude.

    And about really ignorant drivers… I stopped honking at them…In general, they are just too ignorant and feel the need to do even more unneeded things. I now try to ignore them a much as possible. They are like a piece of dust… Try that, just like at work.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yep, people can disrupt projects everywhere, lol. I was worried leaving my last company whether the grass would be greener or not, fortunately it was, but man, “Tom” can be difficult to deal with sometimes.

      I bet stopping honking at idiot drivers would probably help me out anyway.

  8. Mrs. BITA

    First of all, every other Friday off? I am so jealous!

    Your poor greyhound. I hope she adjusts to her new laid back lifestyle soon.
    Your monday morning guy was such a dick! He is going to rage himself into an early heart attack at that rate.
    I like how you told Tom off. We have our share of Toms and they are so annoying. I think they just like to hear the sound of their own voices. There should be a words per day budget for guys like that.

    1. Mr. SSC

      It is a nice schedule even if the other days are longer. It’s still 80 hrs, just broken up as 8 – 9 hr days and then an 8 hr friday every other week. Zoe is adjusting, but it is taking her a little longer than Lola did, although Lola didn’t race and was only bred.

      I love the idea of a daily word budget for “Tom’s” around the office. Hit a certain limit and be able to say, “Sorry Tom, you hit your word limit for the day. Hold that thought until tomorrow…” lol

  9. Elephant Eater

    Do you think your perspective at work would change if you could see the end of your working days coming up soon?
    I can tell you unequivocally that the answer is yes!

    BTW…Love the pics through the post as I am a massive Dazed and Confused and Office fan, and at my current phase in life can pretty much say the lines from Frozen along with the movie just as at a different time in life I could with Dazed.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Touche – Mr. “I gave my notice already”. 🙂

      I told Mrs. SSC – “hmmm, the meme generator was working hard today”. I ahdn’t thought about it until you said it, but I’m in the same boat with knowing the Frozen lines now like I was with Dazed and Confused back in the day.

      Now to figure out how to work in some good Raising Arizona and Goonie’s meme’s to round out my old movie days….

  10. Jacq

    My dad’s heart attack (that he is recovering from 🙂 ) is a big reminder that we’ve only got so much time, how do you / I want to spend it? He eats very low fat, low salt, and ran or biked daily (outside or in the gym), to be proactive and it still happened.
    I am more than 2 years from FI, I need to save a lot more, but knowing I am not looking to make this a 30 year career, it is small stuff.
    People at work get hung up on some of the stuff, and it becomes a big deal when it isn’t, and other things that could affect the fate of the company they seem to not notice. My job is to notice small details and we all make mistakes, ex: someone missed the 1 in their date of 17 for the year, just fix it and move on, cool.
    Our company is at a point where we have the potential to succeed on our own, or make ourselves attractive to being bought. While either option could be good for my stock options, the second might not be great for my plan to work there another 5+ years.
    I also see the higher ups in my department get in before me, and still there when I leave and I don’t want that. If that’s what I’m supposed to aspire my career towards, no thank you.
    I am glad you enjoy this company more than the previous one, and got some garden zen time. 🙂

    1. Mr. SSC

      I subconsciously worry about that sort of thing happening with me since heart disease ran in my dad’s side of the family. I don’t dwell on it, but if a heart attack took me out in my 50’s or even 60’s I wouldn’t be surprised – irony and all of that. 🙂

      I’ve seen way to many managers get in at the same time I do (6:10 am) and who knows when they leave – but they’re still around when I’m out at 3:30/40 pm. These are the same guys though that I’d still see in the office around 5 when I was on a different schedule, so yeah… Great examples of what I Don’t want my career to emulate.

      That and not getting hung up on most of the work drama. It’s mostly that – just work drama, as opposed to little stuff vs big stuff. If I can keep myself out fo the fray and avoid the soap opera – I consider it a successful week. Fortunately I know the 2 people I can go get a 30 minute weekly synopsis of all of that if I want. I liken it to tuning into a tv show once a week, lol.

      I got about 6.5 hrs of garden/landscaping Zen time. Thank-you wateroak for just now dropping your leaves and giving me a solid hr of raking. Thank-you banana plants for growing like weeds and spreading under the fence to the neighbors yard. I think I dug up close to 200 lbs of roots alone, and I left about 60% of the original plants in place. 🙂

  11. Mr Crazy Kicks

    This gave me some flashbacks! I don’t miss the rush hour traffic or that person who needs to be a jerk at the office. But it all made for good motivation to save more. Like you I was getting more and more laid back at work, and started wearing jeans and crazy kicks to work towards the end 🙂

    It’s a wonderful thing to know you don’t have to do that for the rest of your life 🙂

    1. Mr. SSC

      I am looking forward to not dealing with rush hour traffic – just the new rush hour traffic of drop off and pick up lines if we end up moving somewhere that we can’t walk the kids to school. 🙂

      My last company I started wearing “nice/dark” jeans to the office and figured I’d ride it out until I was told “that’s not work appropriate”. Made it 2 years of comfy/laid back dress at work before I got moved to a position that I had to look a bit more business like. I still count it as a win though. 🙂

      Yeah – it is definitely a good feeling knowing I don’t have 20 more years to go. OMG no wonder people check out or burn out or just quit giving a f*&# at work.

  12. ZJ Thorne

    That driver sounds scary. Folks really need to understand that they are driving 100s/1000s of pounds of heavy machinery and that they are not sovereign entities. Ugh.

    But, yah Zen!

    1. Mr. SSC

      I used to roll my eyes at my dad when he would refer to cars as “guided missiles” on the roadway, but sometimes in Houston traffic I think, “Nope, that’s about right” – minus the explosives part of course, lol.

      The garden/landscaping Zen was nice and much appreciated even if my back and legs were a little sore Sunday morning when it caught up to me. 🙂

  13. FullTimeFinance

    In my case it’s all about remembering I don’t have to be there if I don’t want to at this stage in my life. Financially I’m secure enough to walk out if desired and have sought after skills enough to get another job as desired. That makes all the difference.

    1. Mr. SSC

      That’s a great point as well. I’m also at that point and even in a down oil and gas market, I got a lead on a potential job that came my way on Friday. 🙂 Not that I plan on leaving, but like you said, it’s nice knowing I have options.

      While we’re not 100% to FI yet, if I got laid off or quit, we wouldn’t be stressing over how to pay bills or buy food, I’d just have to start looking for work at some point.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, and yep I keep counting down the days to not be in the rat race. 🙂 Then i think, quit being impatient, you’re still going to be early retired sooner than most, so what’s a few more years if that’s what it takes to get there.

      It’s all about perspective. 🙂

  14. Fruclassity (Ruth)

    I got mad at that driver just reading about it! What a jerk! And he should not have been on his cell phone. He should be flipping the bird at himself! (OK, I’m getting mad again.) I’m with Laurie – good for you telling Tom the truth at work. Tom and road rage guy are 2 very good motivators for you FFLC. But don’t you just know you’ll meet their equivalents once you’re there? You’ll just have more freedom to deal accordingly : )

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I pass SO many drivers every morning and afternoon with their heads down monkeying with their phones. Rarely are they actually using them as phones, lol.

      Tom has gotten a lot better this week, but it probably started with me continuing to not let him make general statements or otherwise incorrect statements. It has improved the amount of things he says in meetings and better than that his comments are now useful and not just negative about all the things “we don’t know.” Wins all around.

      I’m sure I’ll meet their equivalents, probably about 15 minutes into the first PTO meetings and volunteering to deal with those things. I bet they’re full of “Tom’s”, lol.

        1. Mr SSC Post author
            Not only has he improved, but my boss has realized if he’s in a mtg with Tom, he talks SO much less, and the random points he brings up that seem to derail my project, don’t get brought up when my boss is there. It’s nice that he has my back and knows his presence takes stress off of me from Tom Disruptions, lol.

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