Retiring early means no more job-related stress
Three years ago, I decided to retire early, and live my life in my way.
Five years ago, I left the engineering career, partly because I was sick and tired of the stress caused by the job. While in the rat race, I managed the stress okay. But, when the choice came up, I would prefer not having the share of stress.
Job-related stress is no stranger to everyone. Love it or hate it, more or less, stress is always there, no matter what you do for a living.
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Looking back, retiring early was one of the best decisions I have made so far. Life without workplace stress is wonderful.
And I’m not alone. Some of the bloggers shared the similar sentiment:
- Do you know one of the benefits of retiring early? Less gray hair. Check “The Health Benefits Of Early Retirement Are Priceless” by Financial Samurai.
- Another engineer called it a career. Enjoy “Why I gave up my engineering career” by Joe of Retire By 40.
Since workplace stress is real, I’d like to share my thoughts about it today.
Office boundary has been blurred:
Remember the good old days, when we arrived at the office at 8 AM, and left for home at 5 PM? Work and business happened strictly at the specific places, and the 8-5 time windows. Outside that, it was all reserved for family and personal things.
Not any more, thanks to the technology. For many of the jobs nowadays, we are constantly connected, and are available for work at any time. The phone is continuously recharged, but we are not. The long work hours depleted people.
Going for a vacation? The must-carry-on items are smart phones, and work laptops. The once-a-year family vacation could be easily ruined by a bunch of work-related phone calls or emails. Stressful? You bet.
We resent about the calls and emails. Wish it stopped, but it never did. On the other hand, the anxiety of unplugging is even more overwhelming. As a result, we keep plugging in, even at the beach.
When I was an engineer, there was quite a lot of work that had to be done during the nights or weekends. One time, I was in a conference call with my coworker remotely, for hours, doing some troubleshooting. At that time, no Wi-Fi was available yet. The work laptop was connected to the home router.
Suddenly, my coworker dropped from the line. After 10 minutes, she came back. What happened? Her 3-year old unplugged the network cable from her laptop. The kid was so fed up with the mom working from home. I don’t blame the kid.
As a parent, who doesn’t want to spend more time with the kids? Of course, we love to. But, there is work to do, lots of work. What a conflicting feeling. How many times do we feel guilty, for not being able to be there for the kids? That’s when they need us the most.
I doubt if there is real work-life balance. Some may handle work stress better than others. But, after all, stress is stress. It hurts us physically, and mentally.
Job insecurity is like a ghost. It’s haunting so many people. Right now, how many jobs are secure in US? Except for government employees, or tenured professors, many feel the anxiety: do I have the job next month, or next year?
In order to mitigate the risks of losing the job, what do we do? Work harder and longer hours, skip vacations, and try to exceed the expectations. But the expectations are changing over the year, and are becoming a moving target. It’s called “Embrace the change”.
That’s how the employees are screwed at the end of the year. Everyone is a great performer. But, the employers have quotas when doing the performance reviews. Heard about the 20-70-10, or 10-70-20, whatever crap?
The lower ratings have to be assigned to someone. Your fate and job is totally at the mercy of someone who may even not know who you are, and what you do. Many feel so helpless, and stressed out. The only thing that can be done is to pray.
Welcome to corporate America.
How many of us experienced the layoff? Some companies are gracious enough to give several months of notice, with some severance package.
Some let the employees go immediately. I worked for one company. The business was struggling. Some employees went to work in the morning, got the notice, and were escorted out of the building in a couple of hours. No severance, nothing. As a survivor, I didn’t feel lucky at all. Just found a better job, and moved on quickly.
Being laid off is a stressful experience. Check Caroline’s post, why she freaked out when the layoff notice has not arrived yet: “On The Outside, I May Look Cool, Calm And Collected But …” on Money Scrap.
Other work-related stress:
Have you heard about the latest viral story, about the work lunch being stolen? The shrimp fried rice was dumped into the trash can of the office kitchen by someone.
It is stressful when you are hungry, and find out your packed lunch is missing. It becomes even worse if it shows up in the trash can.
Colleagues do cause stress sometimes. Do you have a teammate sitting in the next cubicle, who clips the finger nails often? Or someone whose sneezes could cause the sky to fall?
And the boss. Is he or she very bossy? At the end of the day, do you still want to see him or her the next day? Does the boss look like the one-million dollar debt to you? You like to escape from it, but may never ever be able to.
At the last company I worked as an engineer, there was a “Wall of Fame” in our cubicle area. What is it? After each engineer left the company, we put his or her cubicle name tag onto that wall. One more winner. There were over 20 Wall of Famers before I took the turn. Using the words of one of coworkers, “Finally she got the parole.”
Enough said about workplace stress. I’m sure everyone knows the drill, as everyone is an expert in dealing with it. Do you hate the job stress? If yes, get rid of it by retiring early, if that’s what you want to.
Retiring early means you don’t have to work for money anymore. You can work for fun if you want to. Goodbye to the super long work hours, and hello to the final freedom.
Retiring early means that, plugging in or not, and when, is totally your choice. Having a vacation? You are able to enjoy it fully without worrying about missing clients’ calls or emails.
By retiring early, you don’t worry about job security any more. And nobody dares to give you a performance review. I love it. Plus, nobody can steal your lunch. You can make a nice lunch at home, or eat well at your favorite restaurant.
And the coolest thing about retiring early is that, you are the boss. Nobody can boss you around. Not anymore.
How to get there? Start today. Treat your hard-earned money seriously, and save it. The more dollars you save and invest today, the less time you’ll have to suffer the work stress in the near future.
Good luck in reducing the work stress and retiring early!
Do you feel stressed out at work? How do you manage the stress?
Take a look at my eBook, a mini-memoir on Amazon: “DAD’S BICYCLE: Journey of A Chinese Family”.