I'd love to see more programs that pair retirees with young people to tackle local problems, there is a clear trend regarding increasing lonlieness among young adults and retirement age folks.
1. More volunteer time at the dog shelter.
2. More reading.
3. More music playing, and finally really spend time on that violin that is currently a secondary instrument.
4. More time at "church" (read: Zen practice), yes, just like other old people.
5. Might finally have time to hike the Appalachian Trail, or at least large parts of it.
6. Finally find the time to sit down and decide what I want to do when I retire, 'cuz there's no way this list is complete.
All but #5 should be able to be done by all but the most feeble. I hope I live so long as to get bored in retirement.
Loads of folks derive personal value and meaning out of their work, and I'm one of them. I've been out of work once for a few months, and that was with a job waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.
It was eye opening how depressive it was, to be robbed of your big "thing." I'm saying this as someone with a boat load of little "things," reading, outdoorsmanship, sports, etc. The second that surety of purpose is gone, so goes my wider motivation.
This is all predicated on not needing money too much. I can see how someone who doesn't have a financial cushion would feel depressed about not only having to spend savings, but also not making money to cover the living expenses. That was the hardest part to come to terms with (at least for me), even though I'm not in any way struggling financially.
I'm kind of close to a point where I'd be fine to not ever even search for another job. I got plenty of other things (perhaps too many) to derive meaning from, and I don't need to get paid to properly derive it.
US tech workplace is super unfriendly to part time work, unfortunately, so instead I just "part time" by not working for a while every 3-4 years. My wife does the same thing. She left her job over a year ago, so she's not working at the moment, though she's more of a social animal, so she'll start looking in September. Me? If the tech industry disappeared today, I'd breathe a sigh of relief, and switch to brewing beer (which is something I'm pretty good at as well). As things are right now, tech is the easiest possible way for me to make the most money per hour (and therefore maximize my downtime).
The comment reads far better without that sentence. As it is, you and mikestew appear to be in violent agreement.
Not a lot of room for uncharitable misinterpretation when one starts off with "I can only assume..."
> The comment reads far better without that sentence.
It certainly would!
You had the choice to interpret charitably yourself, however ;-)
Though the initial bit on the culture of charity (see link in my previous comment you're replying to) seems generally on point.
Watching people talk past each other rubs me as tedious. I'll mention it occasionally.
Most people would define "retirement" as "no longer working for money, while using savings or other existing means of income to pay for living expenses"
There absolutely is a reason that it can't be my "thing," it's because it isn't!
If it's "doing work that changes the way things are", once you've reached a point where you are able to retire and no longer need to work for money, there's plenty of options in just about every sector (I'm assuming yours is tech or tech adjacent being on HN and all that) where you can do meaningful work and which people would gladly accept the help of an expert on even if they can't pay them.
If it's some other 3rd thing that you feel differentiates jobs from non-jobs, I'd be interested to hear what you think that is.
Society is built on division of labor. I enjoy the fruits of so many people's labor in uncountable ways all day long. It's only fair that I too participate in this wonderful system and give something back.
You're right that the payment is important. Calling that "greed" is a misunderstanding of that word, aside from the attempted insult. Among several things, it does serve as a check that what you do is important. That someone is willing to pay you money, shows that the work is important to that someone!
It's interesting to me that you wrote the payment is important to you because it shows that what you are doing is important. My outlook is that the thing I am paid to do is arguably the least important activity out of any I do in the world. I'm paid to ensure that a particular set of bits are turned on and off in the appropriate way so that other people can manipulate those same bits to influence how data is represented elsewhere. In essence, I feel as though I'm the digital version of a paper-pusher, merely moving reports from one end to the other. It's not bad, as such, just not something I imagine as an important thing. But, it's what the market / society / the invisible hand has decided is deserving of almost outlandlishly wealthy levels of pay, so I do it.
On the other hand, the things I find most important are the activities I either don't get paid to do or I actively pay to do them. Volunteering at my library showing kids and older adults how to read and find information. Being a guide at the zoo, hanging out with animals and encouraging others to see them as worth conserving. Knocking on doors for my preferred candidate in local elections. These are all things that, should I deduce some way to continue to pay my usual bills without having to digitally-push-paper, I would happily do for the rest of my days and let someone else occupy my chair at work. That I don't get paid to do them is almost part of the charm, though I wish society valued the work highly enough that I could get paid to do one or more of those instead of dealing with the latest wrinkle in "site reliability engineering."
But what I am saying is that it shows what I'm doing is important to other people. It's not just something I'm doing for myself.
> it's what the market / society / the invisible hand has decided is deserving of almost outlandlishly wealthy levels of pay, so I do it.
That's true, but I prefer to deabstractify it a bit. There are real people, who have decided to spend substantial money on paying you and me to do what we do, because they think it's important. That makes it very real to me. And confirmed by an independent outside "reviewer", so to speak.
I came into this way of thinking after being a stubborn youth who hated work and dreamt about never having to do it. But I couldn't get the ethics of it all to add up. So this is how I made sense of things.
Of course, what you describe sounds like working for the benefit of others as well.
-Direct comments from people saying as much
-Visible effects of your work changing things around you
-People providing you with physical, yet solely sentimentally valuable tokens of their thanks
The money is one way of keeping score, but it's not the singular way of keeping score. It's only important if you feel it's important. You can volunteer at an old folks home or help maintain an important, widely used OS project, and pretty easily understand that what you're doing is valuable to your society. There are all sorts of tasks that you can perform that have an overt and direct impact but which will not provide you with any financial income. Within the context of the discussion, being retired (which we earlier defined as existing in a state in which you no longer need additional financial gain in order to support your lifestyle) you could still perform meaningful task that aren't jobs.
OP hasn't commented on what it is that makes "working jobs for money" his thing. We can only speculate what his answers would be. I'm still of the opinion that it's either avarice and a love of money as a way of keeping score of your life, or a misunderstanding of what non-work activities look like.
How do you define greed? What do you feel I'm misunderstanding about the concept? Just so we can further this discussion, I'll put down my thought: Greed is the desire for money for money's sake. Using money as a way of proving that something is important. It is the desire to posses more than one needs. The crux of our disagreement here is likely that, defining what "needs" are. I believe capitalist societies are inherently greedy and therefor flawed. I'm not singularly condemning OP, I wish a pox upon the whole enterprise.
I would add "at the expense of others" to clarify that.
Getting paid to work is making money by helping others, which to me is the opposite of "greed"!
The trade of exchanging labor for money is one of the cornerstones of civilization, and everything that's good in the world, as I see it. So we seem to have some discrepancies in our world views :)
I have no quarrel at all with your other ways of knowing your work is appreciated. They all sound good and healthy.
No quarrels though. You seem like a nice enough person.
I'm trying to figure out what OP feels provides him meaning at work. If it's the money, and he gets depressed when he doesn't make money, I'm fine calling that greedy. If it's the lack of meaningful "work" you can do the work without the money. If it's a 3rd thing, I genuinely don't understand what it could be since to me work is simply "doing a task for money".
2. Do you mean Braille? Yes, large print can suffice sometimes... Audiobooks if your hearing is adequate.
3. Add some motor coordination problems and this is not happening.
4. It is boring for many.
5. Sure, with failing healthy and being less able to move. Not impossible, just not likely.
6. Too late for many things.
Most people forget that were talking 70 years old people or so. Some remain spry, but they are a minority.
6b. And what makes you think you will have better ideas then? Or have any actual energy?
By the time they're 60, most people attain at least one chronic health problem. If they're lucky, it's manageable for normal full energy life without such excesses.
Some fade much earlier than that.
Finally, the main problem is gradual loss of connections, friends, family etc.
And if I slip up and get tracked, and I hear the law breaking down the door to get in, I’ll just swallow a pack of pills and be done with it, by the time they get to me, they’ll just find a deflating old corpse sunken into a bed, while thousands of compromised machines stand by to execute their final orders once the dead man’s switch goes off.
This is how I fade.
I enjoyed them.
If you were being sarcastic then I'm sorry and I'll feel like a total idiot.
If you are really passionate about driving racing cars but you can't afford to do so, people telling you that you can play games or instruments doesn't really help.
Take for instance my dad....
- He was offered an early retirement package at age 55, hated being idle, and six months later returned to full-time work as a consultant.
- Fast-forward 15 years, to age 71, when he finally decided to properly retire, ...
- ... to do a full-time Masters of Mechanical Engineering. He just graduated, at 75 the univesity's oldest full-time student.
- After a six month's break (to focus on gym circuit training and boxing classes), he has returned to university again, doing a 50% Masters of Aeronautical Engineering.
During the course he got two concessions:
- He was given 4 hours to do the 3 hour exam papers. After all, it had been 53 years since his undergrad math days.
- Exemption from the engineering work experience requirement. Instead in the Project Management course, he did a guest lecture slot on 'real-life project management in the offshore oil and gas industry'.
That is the most awesome thing I've read all week! Congratulations to your dad.
P.S. One other thing I just remembered is he and my mum live in a country town 90km outside Melbourne. They weren't just round the corner from the university... It was a 90 minute trip by public transport each way. That's a major effort each day just to get to class if you are 18, let alone 75.
Well, the common pattern seems to be for those who retire early that it was preceded with a lots of work. That was also my case. At some point I just realised that I want to do something else, and I had enough savings for lifetime so money wasn't any kind of motivator any more. So, previously I was working 24/7, then suddenly I was working only couple of hours a week. Slowly I started picking things to do, but it takes a lot of time to find hobbies etc.
When I had the luxury of taking the last year off I found out that the idea of doing those things was far more appealing than actually doing them. I started to go a little crazy.
Now I’m looking for work, not because I have to right now, it because I’m bored.
But to answer directly: yes; money is no longer the motivator, and one does not have to do those things to eat. Which, I suppose, a jobby-job once you have enough saved counts as "retirement". But as much as I like my work, there's a lot of other things I like, too, and don't do them as much as I'd like because I'm not yet "retired".
Personally, I'm at least 15 years from retirement, and one of my plans is to hang out at either hackerspaces, libraries, or other areas like that.
Why this idea is not a first class citizen in the first world is beyond me.
If we have beer someone might pull out an actual bottle opener (I worry about that guy).
I wouldn't worry about either of you, but if anyone were casting such aspersions I'd expect it to be someone without 'tools' about them.
Later on I had several conversations with him about how I hoped he would not bite off any more bottle caps. I didn't see him much after that but I hope his teeth are okay.
And everyone is expected to be working all the time otherwise they must be in trouble somehow, despite the fact that at least 50% of people in Western countries earn enough to not need to do that.
I've had periods, I suppose you would call them 'sabbatical', in which I've mostly just mucked around. Learned a new language. Fiddled around with IoT stuff. Done some travelling. Read a lot. Just enjoy life.
During that period, what am I? I'm just a guy. Historically I did software development for work. In the future I'll probably do the same. But that identity of full time employment just doesn't exist.
I generally joke and say I'm retired or that I'm an open source developer or whatever else. But of course that's different coming from someone who won't be hitting government retirement ages for a few decades.
Also, you're at a social event, where people are supposed to be pretending to be humans. Fuck you for making me think about work during my time off. With all sincerity.
If I ask people an ice-breaker about activities, I ask them what they do for fun.
I myself ask this question now and then just because there is nothing else to talk about.
If I ask that question and someone says something like that (or similar avoidance stance) then I know they're very likely insecure or uncomfortable talking about their choice of work. You can read into that a lot to get various ideas but I like to use such things to put together a whole picture of a person.
I, personally, like the question.
Perhaps the person didn't choose their work. They want to be a professional developer, but right now they're working in Starbucks.
Perhaps they don't want to tell you, because they're sick of people fawning or acting strangely towards them. I've spoken to a fair few people like that - say they're a hedge fund manager or whatever, they don't want to bring that to the pub and basically wave the fact they're a decamillionaire in your face.
How many people really want to talk about work when they are are having beers with old friends and some people they just met?
And what happens as a software dev when you tell random people what you do? They want you to fix their computer for them. My hobbies don't have nearly this degree of problem. And on the flip side, you don't want to recruit people when talking about some of your interests (like volunteer work). But that's an easy habit to break when you know so intimately what being volun-told feels like.
I had a longer answer that I trimmed down but that's one of the reasons you can guess why someone isn't saying why they do what they do.
Chances you're interacting with a decamillionaire is much lower than vs someone who doesn't like to mention [insert not typically viewed as a great job here].
There are no assumptions here - just likelihoods.
I used to describe myself as 'semi-retired' and people seemed a bit baffled. I think they interpreted it as me being some sort of trust fund guy, when the reality is, other than the odd toy, I just live as if I earned about minimum wage.
Most people just tell me where they work and what they do. Some people tell me about other things, and if they are retired or unemployed they don’t feel embarrassed.
Maybe if we all started doing this, people would feel less compelled to tie their job to their identity.
Unless you literally are jedberg but using an alternate HN account, I can assure you that you are around different people.
Amazing how perfectly SV says and does the same thing. I literally overhead the exact statement in a cafe yesterday.
This is also a symptom of people in SV/SF having nothing but their careers to talk about, all day every day. It's so boring.
I’ve just found the whole “tell me about your work” discussion tedious, it shouldn’t be what defines us.
The U.S. already spends more on healthcare (by pretty much every measure) than every other developed nation on the planet. Much of this goes to profits of insurance companies, the overhead of having so many parties involved, advertising budgets, etc. Raising taxes to pay for healthcare should result in a net savings for virtually everyone, as these profit-seeking activities are eliminated. The only real debate taking place among economists w/r/t cost is how much of a savings we'll get by moving to a single payer plan.
But, yeah. It's definitely worth it.
Edit: clarification on the number of times I visit the doctor
Besides, I already pay for health insurance and deductibles. So if I don’t have to pay for those but instead have a tax, and I’m covered when I don’t have an employer? Yes, sign me up.
Since paying for health care is mandatory, isn't it already a de facto tax?
I'm not saying one should work a meaningless job instead of retiring, but I don't get waiting for decades to find one's purpose in life. Might as well wait for Godot. And if retiring early doesn't work out, one can end up like the main character in Ikiru: 30 years of perfect attendance and absolutely nothing to show for it.
But hey, maybe that's just my anxiety about starting out adult life.
As online interactions and news become more prevalent (I realize not everyone is equally online), does this change?
I myself have never shared my family's "I can't imagine life without work" - I've been emotionally eager for retirement since I was 20 and the last 20 years have only sharpened my appetite. There is so much to learn and try that work just in the way of. Of course, much of what I want to do could be considered "work", but the freedom to do it to the degree I want at any moment, and on my own schedule is a big deal.
But this article made me think about how that is true for me BECAUSE I don't have to go to an office to be exposed to new ideas, to be aware of new developments.
Sadly, I've got at least 20 more years to go before I get to test the reality of my expectations.
Without it, I tended to spend most of the day doing who knows what, and realizing the day was pretty much over.
I was also the type who had a hard time relaxing when going on a week or two of vacation. Maybe 4-5 days before I had finally unwound, then champing at the bit 9-10 days in, having a hard time waiting to get back to "work."
So I am setting up passive income streams, expecting I will likely be a tinkerer, rather than a complete life of leisure, as I had first fantasized...
That also seems to sort my "identity" as well, as I, too, identified myself by my chosen profession...
I retired at 55, and I'm learning data science and machine learning, doing some Salesforce work for a nonprofit, and I hope to contribute to the reboot of the HospitalRun project.
have friends who have no lives, dont take vacations. just going through the motions. Whats the point?
Not everyone is highly creative and a go-getting problem solver. Not everyone is a life long learner. If fact they're kinda rare.
All this reminds me of Ursula Le Guin's final book of essays before she passed away. Le Guin received a survey for 1951 graduates of Harvard or Radcliff. The survey assumed that employment is the only value to your life.
Here is a quote from the book:
“But it was Question 18 that really got me down. ‘In your spare time, what do you do? (check all that apply).’ And the list begins: ‘Golf…’
“The key words are spare time. What do they mean?
“To a working person — supermarket checker, lawyer, highway crewman, housewife, cellist, computer repairer, teacher, waitress — spare time is the time not spent at your job or at otherwise keeping yourself alive, cooking, keeping clean, getting the car fixed, getting the kids to school. To people in the midst of life, spare time is free time, and valued as such.
“But to people in their eighties? What do retired people have but ‘spare’ time?
“I’m not exactly retired, because I never had a job to retire from. I still work, though not as hard as I did. I have always been and am proud to consider myself a working woman. But to the Questioners of Harvard my lifework has been a ‘creative activity,’ a hobby, something you do to fill up spare time. Perhaps if they knew I’d made a living out of it they’d move it to a more respectable category, but I rather doubt it.
“The question remains: When all the time you have is spare, is free, what to do you make of it?….
“The opposite of spare time is, I guess, occupied time. In my case I still don’t know what spare time is because all my time is occupied. It always has been and it is now. It’s occupied by living.
“An increasing part of living, at my age, is mere bodily maintenance, which is tiresome. But I cannot find anywhere in my life a time, or a kind of time, that is unoccupied.
“I am free, but my time is not.
“My time is fully and vitally occupied with sleep, with daydreaming, with doing business and writing friends and family on email, with reading, with writing poetry, with writing prose, with thinking, with forgetting, with embroidering, with cooking and eating a meal and cleaning up the kitchen, with consulting Virgil, with meeting friends, with talking with my husband, with going out to shop for groceries, with walking if I can walk and traveling if we are traveling, and sitting Vipassana sometimes, with watching a movie sometimes, with doing the Eight Precious Chinese exercises when I can, with lying down for an afternoon rest with a volume of Krazy Kat to read and my own slightly crazy cat occupying the region between my upper thighs and mid-calves, where he arranges himself and goes instantly and deeply to sleep.
“None of this is spare time. I can’t spare it. What is Harvard thinking of? I am going to be eighty-one next week. I have no time to spare.”