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Posted by: enigma ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 11:52AM

Sooooo first off let me preface this with absolute truth:

I REALLY can’t complain about my life. There’s always a look over the fence now and then and the occasional thought that the grass might be greener but 40+ years on this planet and my penchant for skepticism AND a fundamental realization that there’s NOTHING inherently special about me or my situation keeps me firmly grounded in the fact that anyone else’s reality is fraught with a wholly unique special brand of problems/frustrations/wants/aspirations/disappointments.

In the grand scheme of things (zooming out to view the planet as a whole) I am REALLY @#$%’ing lucky! No I’m not filthy rich but I can reliably keep a roof over my family’s head. And while said roof is an ongoing remodeling project that leaves a LOT to be desired from an aesthetic point of view, we’ve made some great memories and it does the job. No I’m not THE perfect parent but my kids are pretty awesome (all things considered) and they’re in their mid-late teens with no catastrophic problems. My wife has dealt with some pretty significant health challenges over the last 6 years but we’ve always been fortunate to have some kind of insurance that AT LEAST had out of pocket maximums and pretty decent coverage; leaving us with a decent pile of manageable debt but keeping us from having to be in dire straights financially. My wife and I both have decent jobs in a nice location that provide good company culture, decent pay (though frugality is the predominant rule – bargain used cars, not a lot of eating out, making do or doing without in a lot of cases), and the aforementioned benefits with a pretty nice work-life balance.

In other words: Yeah… I REALLY don’t have anything to complain about. Statistically I know I’m beyond fortunate at this point in my life.

BUT (yeah you knew that was coming). I’ve been in my career now for over 20 years and it wasn’t even something that I dreamed of doing (which I know is common for many folks). I DO work in a field that’s related to my college degree BUT that degree choice was made when I was a good little Mormon hubby-to-be and that degree path was chosen SOLELY for it’s practicality and potential doors it would open to secure employment to provide for a family so I could be a ‘righteous father in Zion’.

In other words: I don’t give a flying rats @#$! about what I do for a living and I haven’t for a loooooong time. And that’s fine, really. Not all of us get to have our dream job and I KNOW I’m fortunate. I’ve made myself reasonable good at what I do and have cultivated professional relationships over the last 20 years so that the last 3 jobs that I’ve had in my field of expertise (over the last 15 years) came to me without me having to pound the proverbial pavement.

Even better: my wife and I are finally at a point where we could feasibly be completely out of consumer debt (including one remaining car payment) within the next 12 months. Our housing costs only account for 15% of our NET income and we’re NOT big spenders. Once we’re out of debt, our disposable income will be significant enough that, aside from making sure that we’re putting away enough for retirement, our income will be such that if one of us were unemployed, at any given time, we would be fine. AND we’d be fine with SIGNIFICANT reductions in pay.

Sooooooooo faced with the near reality of not needing to do what I do anymore, my mind has taken to flights of fancy… what do I want to be now that I’ve grown up? It sounds silly but I’m cognitively coming to a crossroad where I no longer will need to ‘live to work’ and could potentially think about doing whatever I want. The problem is, I don’t know what the hell I want to do! I’ve ONLY ever thought about working in terms of making sure I could provide for my family. The kids are almost gone (two will be finishing high school next year and the youngest will be a sophomore).

Has anyone here had experience in trying to ‘reinvent themselves’ 20 years into the game and what were some of the things you thought about? What were your priorities as you sat down and contemplated ‘working to live’?

I made my choices because I was Mormon and ‘knew’ I had a plan to follow. That’s all gone and I’ve been in such a habit of not thinking about what I want that I’ve got no idea where to start.

Give me wisdom, Exmos!!

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 01:50PM

I was the 3rd of 6. I loved it when my mom brought a baby home. I have a picture of my siblings and I and my older siblings aren't holding the baby, I am, and I'm 4 years old. I was like a mother to the younger ones, mostly the youngest, who I am the closest to of anyone I know.

BUT then I didn't get married and I didn't want to go to college. I went to 2 semesters. I did want to be a secretary for some reason. Probably from watching TV or because my mom worked at a bank after she got out of high school. I got a secretarial job and I could not have been happier. Part of that, of course, had to do with the people I worked for and with. It blew my mind to quit work after having twins at age 28 and living in a basement apartment.

I went out looking for a job when they were 9 months old without my ex knowing I was looking. When he realized I was, he helped me get on at the hospital doing medical transcription. I'm still doing it some 30 or more years later and I still like it. I can't say I love it anymore, but I don't mind it. A lot of the time I still find it interesting. I type for Jackson Hole and that is quite interesting. I miss the big hospitals I used to work for. BUT I'm almost 61 and I'm just biding my time.

I actually plan on working 1 of my jobs even after I retire until I no longer have access to a decent transcription job. I might go work in Alaska in the summers for a few years if my daughter still works up there (which I'm kind of suspecting she won't).

I would have liked to not have to have been the main breadwinner when I was a single mother. I would have liked to enjoy my kids more during their teenage years even though I did enjoy them. I was just worn out, broken, and tired.

Me, I would still not have gone to college. I loved being a secretary. My transcription job made it possible for me to be at home as a single mother and earn good money while doing it.

If I were to want to reinvent anything, it would be obvious and not have anything to do with my occupation. I never thought I'd be so close to retiring or even hope to retire. I just found out what my "ex's" pension is. He has kept it a secret from me all these years out of fear I'd decide to divorce him after all. ha ha ha ha ha Evil laugh. Sad to say, I'm not that kind of person. He has promised to pay most of the bills and pay off the little we owe on the house that I hung onto. I'm just too nice I'm afraid. At least now I know I can retire. That has been really wonderful to realize.

My boyfriend who is a chemist who invents circuit boards, I think he would have chosen something different, too, considering his divorce hit him hard financially in his 50s. Not as much time to recover. He'll be working for a while. He just turned 65. I think he'd choose to be a chemist, but work on becoming self employed years ago. That is what he plans on doing when he turns 67.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 05:59PM

I got an undergraduate degree in art and worked in the interior decorating industry for a number of years. I enjoyed it, but at the same time I wanted a job that would make a difference in people's lives. So I settled on teaching. I went back to school to get a Master's degree in education in my mid-30s, and have been doing it ever since.

At this point I realize that I fulfilled my need to be in a helping profession. I met that need but no longer feel it as strongly. And it's been a very difficult career (I am an urban teacher, and my average day would make most people run out of the building screaming.) I'm 61, and especially with the large class sizes that we are facing now, it's getting to be too much for me. So I'm studying for an additional certification in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages.) I've always liked the immigrant kids, and I would be working with them in small groups. Most of the testing pressure would be off. I would be free to actually teach as opposed to being constantly micro-managed. So that is my plan. I will make the switch within the next year or so, and have a quieter end to my career. At my age, I am simply too old, tired, and poor to get another degree, but I can certainly do a course correction.

I used to think that I would paint or write in retirement, but we shall see. I will definitely travel and want to follow my hobbies and interests more closely. I think I can certainly make a contribution there.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 06:31PM

I was very fortunate to have been able to do my dream job. I knew I wanted to farm with my dad from when I was very young. He tried to convince me otherwise (being the wise man he was) but I persisted. I've never regretted by choice.

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Posted by: Pooped ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 07:09PM

I always wanted to grow up and work with my dad. That would have been alright except the crazy members of our family all worked in the family business as well. I took off a semester from college to work with dad and got a first hand glimpse of what I'd be dealing with. Went straight back to college highly motivated and graduated.

I actually tried many different careers, including teaching, and finally got a master's degree and became a counseling psychologist. I really like it and there are a wide variety of areas within the field of psychology. At this stage I'm able to work when and how much I want while caring for my mother. If I were starting over again I'd probably choose neuropsychology today but that was an unknown field when I started school.

I also think I would have enjoyed zoology or biology as I was very good in those courses at school. I kind of dreamed about being a field biologist but I make better money where i am.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 08:00PM

I'll get back to you on that.

I'm still out to lunch trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life as I near retirement.

The "empty nest" syndrome after the children fly the coop certainly has some effect on that decision.

Health factors aside, my dream is to move closer to extended family in the west, and find an affordable living arrangement where I'm going so I can enjoy retirement as much as is humanly possible.

Life happens when you're making other plans is one life lesson that has a habit of interrupting the best made ones. It's still fun to dream and plan what to do after the job is done.

I've heard people lamenting about how their friends dropped like flies after they retired because they just gave out without a job to look forward to. Having things to look forward to is important part of planning for that eventuality. I'm tired of working, truth be told. Have worked most of my life since I was a minor. It will be a treat to be able to do my own thing, and make the most of it.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: April 13, 2018 11:49PM

A woman where I once worked kept a placard on her desk that read, "I used to think I wanted a career. When what I really wanted was a paycheck."

Kind of summed up the reality for many of us in that particular occupation. It was a tough and difficult place to work. The steady paycheck is what kept us there.

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Posted by: chipace ( )
Date: April 14, 2018 12:00AM

I never took any risks with my job until I paid my house off. After that I switched companies and took more risks. I wish I could have acted this way years sooner. I am finally being the person I truly am. The financial stability thing is best for most people, but not all people.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 14, 2018 12:06AM

See what your state or alumni groups have to offer in career testing and counseling. There are tests which help you assess your experiences, aptitudes, skills, and interests. These may suggest directions, either generally or specifically, that you might have otherwise considered.

When I was a teen, my parents invested in Johnson-O'Connor testing, which is still a growing concern. I won't explain why, but I wound up in blue collar work most of my life. Only late in life did I find myself involved in the strength areas those tests clearly indicate a half-century previously, such as teaching and communication.

They're pricey, but worth looking into.

Last thought: Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Do you really notice farms when you drive through rural areas? REALLY notice? Are you fascinated by math or word puzzles? Likely to poke through a tech magazine? Such things might be indicators of your interest--and a possible direction.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 14, 2018 12:22AM

And I'm re-impressed. I have a daughter in college who doesn't know what she wants to do. I think I'll treat her to their testing program this summer.

Good luck, Enigma!

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 11:54AM

I completely relate. I have been having many of the same thoughts.

I really can retire at any time (not a great feeling that I am shortly 65).

I find I am in denial about having to decide what I want really want to be doing. What do I want to be next?

I am a workaholic. I use my work sometimes as an excuse to avoid doing other things (mostly social). I am dreading the void that will happen when I quit. I am dreading having to face the giant "to do" list that I will actually have time to do.

I will probably end up being grandma babysitter instead of wandering off on all the adventures I thought I might like. I'll probably spend my time listening to podcasts and reading which is my favorite mental escape.

As usual, it's Analysis to Paralysis (our family motto).

I've planned so many things in my life so carefully but I've never come to terms with what I truly want to be doing. I don't know what I want to do when I grow up even now.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 12:18PM

My sister-in-law listens to podcasts and reads. My brother likes to golf and do woodworking. They both travel, garden, sail, hit the gym, and polish up their cooking skills. Right now they are both on grandparent duty.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 12:46PM

Thanks, summer. It doesn't sound so bad!

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Posted by: Dave the Atheist ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 12:19PM

I think it's too late for me to be a train engineer.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 12:22PM

The only thing that changed about my principle goal in life is that now I'm trying to join the Senior golf tour...

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 12:37PM

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Posted by: Working Mom ( )
Date: April 15, 2018 02:02PM

I think that planning is always a good thing! I planned for the good things that happened, after my divorces. Then, I worked hard, and never gave up. I did stay too long at one or two jobs that I hated, but I did move on, eventually.

I was in a muddle for a while, wondering what I really wanted to do with my life. Is this an ex-Mormon thing, after leaving the cult and all its enforced "goals"?

The tests weren't very helpful, in selecting an occupation. I liked science and the outdoors, and I tested in the 99 percentile in mechanical ability in all the standard college-entrance exams. So, the reports came back that I would be happy being a lumberjack or a sheep-shearer (outdoors with a chain saw or shears).

I tested high in other things, too, so that did sway my decision to go to college, which was a good thing. Forget what I said about the tests. After my first divorce, I went back to get my Master's, which, for me was a good thing. No matter what careers I pursued, an advanced degree leveled the playing field for me, a woman in a man's world. I was also able to comfortably relate to people of any socio-economic level.

A college degree, and beyond can still help you get a better job. It can give you more confidence, and can raise the ceiling for your aspirations.

I ended up in a career that was beyond my expectations, and a huge salary. I do like challenge, though. I had a great mentor, also! In the working world, a lot depends on dumb luck, and being in the right place at the right time.

When I was a very confused, new BYU grad, I signed up with a temporary employment agency, in order to try out various jobs, to see what I liked. The first job they gave me was working in an office attached to a warehouse, in an industrial area, a short distance from home, in Silicon Valley. It was not glamorous, but I was given a lot of responsibility, and an interesting variety of tasks on the job. I loved it! I liked the engineers and scientists I worked with. It was also social, because I was in charge of symposiums, and did the pre-interviews for hiring new people. The company grew, and I invested in it. These stocks will provide for part of my retirement!

When I got married the second time, moved to Utah, and had children, I went into real estate, with my husband, who had another job, too. I could work mostly at home, and make my own schedule. I had my own money, and made some wise, timely purchases. When my husband divorced me for another woman and hid all of his assets, and refused to pay alimony and child support, I had money of my own, and went into real estate sales, full-time. My broker was wonderful, and the market was booming. I never had to go from door to door, or hustle for clients. Real estate sales is harder now, but I have a huge client base.

All I ever wanted in life was to be a Mormon "Mother in Zion" and have children, and stay home and play with them and teach them. I didn't care that the hours were long and hard, and the work was 7 days a week--I loved it!

You can't plan for what other people do! One husband abused me, and the other cheated on me. The cult maligned me for being divorced. Mormonism depressed me. I had to leave the whole "mother in Zion" concept behind. I kept on being a mother, but my kids and I left Mormonism, and we have been doing well, ever since.

My family is my greatest joy in life! We all live in the same city in Utah.

I worked all my life, ever since I was old enough to babysit. When I retire, I plan to go back to my first job, of babysitting my grandchildren. I traveled extensively in high school, as an exchange student, and I took a year off from BYU (which I didn't like) to travel through Europe. I doubt that I will want to travel when I retire. I hope to leave a nice chunk of money to each of my children and grandchildren--and none to the Mormon cult or BYU, and no senior missions for me!

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Posted by: enigma ( )
Date: April 16, 2018 11:00AM

Thanks everyone! These are some great perspectives and I've got plenty of time to sort this out. Thankfully I'm in a great working environment so, even if I don't really "care" about what I do, I care about doing good work and I've got a great situation so it's not like I'm slogging through drudgery day after day...

Like I said, I've got NOTHING to complain about and I can take my sweet time getting this worked out - I like the thought of 'paying attention to what I pay attention to' and some different batteries of tests. I'm going to look into this over the next few months and really start thinking about all of this.

Thank you guys! You never disappoint!

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Posted by: kentish ( )
Date: April 16, 2018 11:17AM

I spent a lifetime trying to find the perfect skill and I have finally found it...retirement. I'm really good at something at last.

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Posted by: catnip ( )
Date: April 16, 2018 03:10PM

Once I learned the alphabet, I wanted to write books when I grew up. The more I learned to read, the more I decided I wanted to write historical novels. I love to read them, and I wanted to write them.

My mother always discouraged this, saying, "It's a lovely hobby, dear, but there's no money in it."

When I married for the first time, my military officer husband sent home enough money for me to live on. That's when I taught myself to write - and sell - short stories to magazines. Granted, I was just a beginner, but I was selling about three stories for ever four that I wrote, and I had acquired an agent, who was a great help. Often, ONE SINGLE SALE was enough to pay rent for a month in our apartment. I loved it.

Once DH left the military, he insisted that I get a regular, nine-to-five, paid every-other-Friday kind of job. I didn't want anything to do with that.I was already doing what I loved. But he kept after me, relentlessly, circling things in the classifieds, asking every day, "How many interviews do you have lined up for tomorrow?" We fought tooth and nail about this.

That's how I ended up in Social Security for 30 years.

I fully intended to go back to writing as soon as I had the chance - but once I retired, I no longer had the drive or the energy. The plot-lines had dried up. Gifts like that don't last forever.

I've tried. Really, I've tried. But the words don't just flow any more. Trying to put them on paper is like slogging through knee-deep mud. And there is no joy in it.

I miss my writing as I miss my best friend. But they are both gone, no matter how much I wish it were otherwise.

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Posted by: NormaRae ( )
Date: April 17, 2018 08:04PM

Yes, I had to "reinvent" myself in my late 40s. Followed the mormon plan, dropped out of college, married my loser R.M., popped out the kids, put hubby through school, to end up divorced with only a secretary's salary. Too late for law school at that point. Not worth running up the student loans for only a decade and a half to work. But I did get a paralegal degree and it has served me well.

My dream when I retire, however, would be to work for an immigration attorney. It would be for very little pay, but I'd feel like I was really helping people. So while my company pays for continuing ed., I try to sign up for immigration law seminars and web casts and I really want to even take some courses. The world of corporate law is good pay and I've needed it, but I just would really like to do something meaningful when I have some retirement income to back me up.

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