Author Topic: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?  (Read 7245 times)

begood

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Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« on: August 20, 2014, 03:29:42 PM »
We all know that some people work to live (including many folks here, I'm guessing) and some people live to work.

My spouse is a live-to-work guy. He's under a lot of pressure at his current job, works twelve-hour days regularly, has frequent evening and weekend responsibilities too... but that isn't anything new. He's always gone in early and stayed late; that's just who he is and how he works.

So for him, it's hard to imagine what he'd do if he retired early. He's worked so much for so long that he doesn't really have any outside hobbies or interests aside from bonsai trees, which he does on his own. Over the past 12 years, he's devoted what free time he gets to our daughter, but now that she's hitting teenagedom, she's more interested in hanging with her peer group than in taking a walk with her dad. Developmentally appropriate, but tough on Dad!

He already feels at loose ends when he's not working - I think it's hard for him to go from full-tilt to full-stop. I'd like to find something we could do together, and something we could look forward to in six to ten years. It's possible that "retirement" for him means working 40 hours a week somewhere doing something, and I guess that would be okay if he enjoys it and it's not so stressful, but... I'd love some ideas for things besides work that I could suggest.

Things we've enjoyed over the years:

Nature walks
Antiquing
Visiting historic/cultural sites
Playing bridge

Those interests make it sound like we've already been retired for years! I guess we are young(ish) fuddy-duddies. :)

Is there any hope of changing a live-to-work type to a not-work-and-just-live type?

4alpacas

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2014, 04:15:27 PM »
I'm commenting for advice.  I think this might be me....I love my job, put in long hours, and might be attached to the "status" of my job.  I can't really picture RE, so I'm more focused on FI.

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2014, 04:21:39 PM »
I'm commenting for advice.  I think this might be me....I love my job, put in long hours, and might be attached to the "status" of my job.  I can't really picture RE, so I'm more focused on FI.

I didn't really get anywhere with my husband by discussing the concept of "early retirement". I did much better with the term "financial independence." Even then, about the best my mister comes up with is ideas for working at Costco (great employer, and he'd probably rise quickly and then be working long hours again!), or doing inventory at Five Below (that one always cracks me up), or going part-time at Home Depot.

Volunteering would be an option, though he'd have to be really passionate to be willing to spend his time for no money in return.

I think I've mentioned the term before, but I'm really trying to break the "work equals value" construct. I think he defines himself by his work, and without it, he's not sure who he'd be.

Noodle

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2014, 04:54:25 PM »
You know, at the non-profit I'm associated with, a lot of our male volunteers came to us because their wives got involved first, and then the husbands got interested as they heard about the various opportunities. If there's someplace you think you both might enjoy volunteering you might "try it out" first and then invite him along. Plus not all non-profits run their volunteer program well and it can be hard to tell from the outside, which could be frustrating to someone on the fence about the idea.

Daisy

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2014, 05:35:38 PM »
Hmmm...that's a tough one. Most of us on this forum are probably the work to live types.

I bet your husband gets a lot of satisfaction from working on projects and seeing things through. Most of us get some kind of satisfaction from feeling useful to society in one form or another.

In my case, that would ideally take much less than 40 hours a week to accomplish. My FIRE plans do include some volunteer or low-paid work to help society in some way - work with children to advance science type careers, work in my bike club's volunteering efforts, help out with some local environmental activities, plan fun and cheap trips for me and my friends (this last one is of questionable societal value, but I figure anything to make it easier for my friends stuck in the rat race would be nice...and I won't have to be travelling alone so much).

I was interested in and briefly dated a good friend and I am so glad that never worked out (in hindsight). He's turned into a complete workaholic that can't even take a week off from his startup, even though he's approaching 50 and has never been married or had children or have expensive tastes. I'm sure he could FIRE right now without any issues, but he won't. I surely dodged a bullet, as his lifestyle and mine would have constantly been at odds.

marblejane

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2014, 05:52:02 PM »
I am definitely a live to work type. To me, the appeal of FIRE is the opportunity to travel more and to be able to get involved with local politics.

Has your husband thought about joining the board of a non-profit? Being a board member appeals to the status-loving aspects of my personality. FIRE for him could involve being an active board member of 2 or 3 local non-profits (thus giving him something to do that structures his time and giving him something prestigious sounding to reinforce his identity).

Also, if you guys like travel, he could borrow a page from Miles Dividend MD and take up travel hacking.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2014, 06:50:19 PM »
An honest to goodness 8-12 week sabbatical may help him "reset" if his employer will allow it.  If he can't get there in 8-12 weeks he might just not be made for ER.  It does happen. 

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2014, 05:51:36 AM »
Thanks for the replies, folks!

So Close, I don't think a sabbatical is a possibility, but at least this year I got him to take a 12-day vacation - as in, 12 days in a row off from work. He built sand castles with our daughter, we took long walks and went to state and national parks - it was awesome, and afterward, even he admitted that he needs to unplug from work now and then.

marble jane, Daisy, and Noodle, I think the nonprofit volunteering route is definitely a possibility, and in terms of him serving on a board, well, they should only be so lucky! He'd have them whipped into shape in no time! ;)

I've worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations over the years, including working as a volunteer coordinator, so I have a good perspective on nonprofits and how they work (or don't work, as the case may be...).

What I don't want to do is have him continue to work in retirement and then for us to be trapped because of his work schedule - little vacation time, not a flexible schedule, etc.

When we made one of our MNC moves, I looked for part-time work for nine months. He had just moved up to three weeks of vacation. I was getting ready to take a part-time secretarial position with the Red Cross that paid $6/hour and came with 5 days of vacation after 6 months on the job. He sat me down and suggested I not let my self-esteem issues affect our lives to that extent, and that I should just volunteer doing something I liked and we wouldn't worry about the money. I offered myself up as a volunteer to a local art cinema that produced a film festival... and they hired me instead, with very flexible hours and time off whenever I needed it.

So when the time comes, I may remind him of that conversation. Who knows what might come of it?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2014, 06:58:58 AM »
Is he handy? There are lots of cool businesses out there for people who are good at carpentry or welding. The kind of businesses that don't make much per $, but you can put as much (or as little) time into as you want.

I'm going to save up for welding gear and see if I can get good enough to make custom bike trailers and other things. There's a huge biking community in my city but no builders that I know of.

On the other hand, if he's a numbers guy, the nonprofit route sounds like a great use of talent.

I haven't read it personally, but Your Money Or Your Life sounds like a good read for him, especially the concept of "life energy". Time is a finite resource. It's great he enjoys being busy, but on whose terms? The "Man" or his own?

Basenji

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2014, 06:59:16 AM »
My dad would not use the term retired like it was a filthy word. But he was on a nonprofit board. I think organized stuff where he could apply business skills appealed. He also started traveling a lot. DH is on-board with FI, but thinks he'll keep working knowing that he likes to be productive and relevant. I'm letting him figure it out. I am going to be so retired in a few years, I can taste the moment I tell my boss, nom nom nom.

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2014, 08:43:15 AM »
Is he handy? There are lots of cool businesses out there for people who are good at carpentry or welding. The kind of businesses that don't make much per $, but you can put as much (or as little) time into as you want.

I'm going to save up for welding gear and see if I can get good enough to make custom bike trailers and other things. There's a huge biking community in my city but no builders that I know of.

On the other hand, if he's a numbers guy, the nonprofit route sounds like a great use of talent.

I haven't read it personally, but Your Money Or Your Life sounds like a good read for him, especially the concept of "life energy". Time is a finite resource. It's great he enjoys being busy, but on whose terms? The "Man" or his own?

Thanks for the book rec, Thegoblinchef! I'll look for it. He is handy, but not necessarily in a skilled, be-your-own contractor kind of way. For example, he doesn't do anything with appliances or cars, but he carved out a drainage system on a cross-country course that dried up a section that had turned into a bog over the years. Now it's dry as a bone even after heavy rain!

I think Habitat for Humanity would be a good spot for him - he'd get supervision, meet people, work on a team, be active.

I also think he could probably do consulting if he could find the right spot - he's an ENTJ, loves to present information to groups, and has a great mind for the "big picture" along with skills with data crunching. I think it's somewhat of a unique combination.

In terms of possible employment in "retirement", it's tough because I know opportunities at 50+ are harder to find, even though he is vital (and looks about 40) and energetic. I know the older he gets, the narrower his hiring window becomes.

Aphalite

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2014, 09:25:33 AM »
Have you guys ever traveled? Try traveling the world - Europe, South America, Asia, for the first year, you can leave your house and possessions in tact, if you find that you really like it, get rid of it all and go from place to place without owning anything in the US!

Peruse through this blog : ) http://www.gocurrycracker.com/the-cost-of-traveling-the-world-may-2014-taipei-taiwan/
They've been traveling for two years now, have hit South America and is currently in Asia

Ways to get him into seeing how great RE would be is to start taking more week long/two week long vacations, you can do South America for very cheap, and Europe and Asia for less so (more expensive plane ticket), look into travel hack ideas, we've done 2 week long trips for less than $4k total for two people (including plane tickets, which are 60-70% of the cost)

I personally believe that the best way to get someone to see how much more there is out there than just the work we do is to show them the world

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2014, 09:47:10 AM »
Have you guys ever traveled? Try traveling the world - Europe, South America, Asia, for the first year, you can leave your house and possessions in tact, if you find that you really like it, get rid of it all and go from place to place without owning anything in the US!

Peruse through this blog : ) http://www.gocurrycracker.com/the-cost-of-traveling-the-world-may-2014-taipei-taiwan/
They've been traveling for two years now, have hit South America and is currently in Asia

Ways to get him into seeing how great RE would be is to start taking more week long/two week long vacations, you can do South America for very cheap, and Europe and Asia for less so (more expensive plane ticket), look into travel hack ideas, we've done 2 week long trips for less than $4k total for two people (including plane tickets, which are 60-70% of the cost)

I personally believe that the best way to get someone to see how much more there is out there than just the work we do is to show them the world

Thanks for that link, aphalite! We have traveled some:

Me: Spain, England, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Him: England, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Greece
Together: China (twice!), Canada

I'd like to do something like spend the summer in Nova Scotia or Maine. Someplace cool and beautiful, with lots of space to walk and gorgeous views. That's something we both like: open spaces and walking trails.

Edited to Add: And the goal listed above - spending a few months in a different locale - is why I do hope he will eventually really retire - it doesn't have to be at 55, but maybe 60 (I'll be 61 and our daughter should be out of college). We could use our retirement accounts for income until his pension kicks in at 65, and then SS at 67 (or 70). I do want to have that freedom to travel, even if it's just traveling someplace where we'll stay put for awhile.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2014, 09:54:12 AM by begood »

Rezdent

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2014, 06:18:03 PM »
I'm commenting for advice.  I think this might be me....I love my job, put in long hours, and might be attached to the "status" of my job.  I can't really picture RE, so I'm more focused on FI.

I didn't really get anywhere with my husband by discussing the concept of "early retirement". I did much better with the term "financial independence." Even then, about the best my mister comes up with is ideas for working at Costco (great employer, and he'd probably rise quickly and then be working long hours again!), or doing inventory at Five Below (that one always cracks me up), or going part-time at Home Depot.

Volunteering would be an option, though he'd have to be really passionate to be willing to spend his time for no money in return.

I think I've mentioned the term before, but I'm really trying to break the "work equals value" construct. I think he defines himself by his work, and without it, he's not sure who he'd be.

Hmmm.   If this were my spouse, I would start with learning more about who he was before the Work.  I might have to dig pretty far back to find that kid who had dreams that didn't involve Work - but these dreams can be dusted off, tweaked to fit the current reality and will be meaningful for him.  They would be worth dusting off even if he never retires.

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2014, 06:13:44 AM »

Hmmm.   If this were my spouse, I would start with learning more about who he was before the Work.  I might have to dig pretty far back to find that kid who had dreams that didn't involve Work - but these dreams can be dusted off, tweaked to fit the current reality and will be meaningful for him.  They would be worth dusting off even if he never retires.

That's a good idea, Rezdent. He has had several visits with a career coach (a psychologist who practices in two paths: counseling and coaching), but I never pressure him to tell me what they've talked about. That's private. But from things he's said, this is one of the things they are discussing. 
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 06:44:00 AM by begood »

former player

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2014, 06:41:32 AM »
I hope your husband is properly remunerated for all he does at work.

12 hour work days + bonsai trees + good family man sounds like a full load to me.   I agree with Rezdent: find out who your husband was before he began working full-time.  Work is an institution (think spending 5 12 hour days a week in prison: it's going to have an effect).  When your husband does retire, it will take months, possibly years, before he is thoroughly de-institutionalised, so don't expect to have everything about his retirement worked out in advance, and don't let not knowing how it will work out delay retirement either.

Also, perhaps your husband is not particularly good at multi-tasking (I know I'm not).  If he is not, then he may also have little ability to switch off and do other things while working full-time, because work takes so much of his mental and physical energy he has nothing much left over to make the switch to something else with.  If so, he may find that without work taking up so much of his attention he gains more ability to switch between different activities.  He may also find that doing very little suits him - there's a thread about that somewhere.


begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2014, 06:59:43 AM »
I hope your husband is properly remunerated for all he does at work.

12 hour work days + bonsai trees + good family man sounds like a full load to me.   I agree with Rezdent: find out who your husband was before he began working full-time.  Work is an institution (think spending 5 12 hour days a week in prison: it's going to have an effect).  When your husband does retire, it will take months, possibly years, before he is thoroughly de-institutionalised, so don't expect to have everything about his retirement worked out in advance, and don't let not knowing how it will work out delay retirement either.

Also, perhaps your husband is not particularly good at multi-tasking (I know I'm not).  If he is not, then he may also have little ability to switch off and do other things while working full-time, because work takes so much of his mental and physical energy he has nothing much left over to make the switch to something else with.  If so, he may find that without work taking up so much of his attention he gains more ability to switch between different activities.  He may also find that doing very little suits him - there's a thread about that somewhere.

former player, I completely agree that work + bonsai trees + good family man is a full load. My hope isn't to add to his plate today, but to plan some menus for tomorrow, if that makes sense. If he could look toward something different in six to ten years that he would find meaningful, it might make his time between now and then more palatable and make the eventual transition easier.

He doesn't actually have to do whatever that is, either, when the time comes, for it to have been a useful exercise now. I'd just like him to start imagining how he could spend his time in ways that would engage and fulfill him.

You're quite right that work saps a lot of his energy - physical and mental. He walks to work and back most days (about a mile), and has started exercising at the end of the workday, which is a really positive thing for him to do. I'm so happy he's making time to take care of himself!

I don't want the "think about what you might do if you weren't doing this" to come across as an assignment or, God forbid, one more stessor for him. It's just that it's all too easy to immerse yourself in a bubble to the point that it's hard to imagine anything different. I want him to lift his head, look around, and think from time to time about what "after" might look like.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 07:22:04 AM by begood »

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2014, 10:52:02 AM »
Just wanted to report that my husband came home for lunch today and we had a great talk. I mentioned that "some people" on the internet were talking about how to think beyond work, and by the end of lunch, he'd come up with this suggestion for "when the time comes":

Condense all our crap into the smallest storage unit that can accommodate it, sell off our second car, and do a year-long tour of national parks, starting where we live and ending up in San Diego. No house, so no mortgage or rent. We might choose to VRBO for a month at a time in several spots, for example, which would be more expensive than everyday rent, but cheaper than hotels.

I doubt we'll implement that plan exactly as described, but HEY! He's thinking beyond work! About something fun he'd like to do! And I'd get to plan it, which is my idea of a Very Good Time.

I'd have to work on my bedbug paranoia, but otherwise, count me in! :)

We talked briefly while we were on vacation about RVing, but it looks fraught with peril if you're not DIYish at all, which we are not. I'd still be open to the concept, because 1) see above for bedbug paranoia; and 2) I wouldn't mind having a little more "home" in my "home away from home" than just a car.

But the dialogue begins! \o/

MrsSmitty

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2014, 12:28:43 PM »
You might try aiming for FI, like others have suggested, with the idea that YOU will retire and let him keep working once you get there. After a few weeks of seeing you lounge around all day or do enjoyable things without him, he might start to warm up to the idea and think of things he wished he had the time for. From there maybe transitioning to part time work or volunteering would be appealing.

That's what my parents are doing. My dad is retired and spends his days hiking, gardening, and reading. My mom is thinking more and more about retiring because she's getting jealous that he gets to do all that and she doesn't have time for it!

begood

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Re: Ideas for someone who "lives to work"?
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2014, 12:44:25 PM »
You might try aiming for FI, like others have suggested, with the idea that YOU will retire and let him keep working once you get there. After a few weeks of seeing you lounge around all day or do enjoyable things without him, he might start to warm up to the idea and think of things he wished he had the time for. From there maybe transitioning to part time work or volunteering would be appealing.

That's what my parents are doing. My dad is retired and spends his days hiking, gardening, and reading. My mom is thinking more and more about retiring because she's getting jealous that he gets to do all that and she doesn't have time for it!

My husband would joke that I've been "retired" since about 1994, when I switched from full time to part time work! I did that for seven years, then didn't work at all for the first seven years of our daughter's life. In the past five years, I've been working from home about 30 hours a week, flexible around the school schedule. If necessary, I could amp that work up to 40+ hours to bring home more bacon, but for the time being, it's nice to be able to "leave work" at the end of the school day.

We moved five times in fifteen years with his job, and we always made sure we could live on his salary alone. Neither of us felt a compelling need to have both of us in the rat race, so the biggest change would certainly be on his end. I can adapt beautifully to doing less work. ;)