Work and Retirement (Part 1)

Brent Pittman —  09/10/2012
Steel Toe Boots

These boots were made for working–were you?
Credit  Code52.

Work is something we do each day, but what are the underlying beliefs about work and how does that inform our actions and view of life?

My friend John at Married with Debt (he’s debt free now) have been discussing work and retirement lately. You can read a recent article John wrote about work to get an idea.

John and I agree on many major issues, but we may have slight differing opinions about work and thus retirement. One thing I do know:

“The way we view work informs our opinions about retirement.”-Brent

Let’s go to Work

This thing we call “work” is used to describe many ideas. Work is both a noun, adjective and verb in which ascribes 32 definitions. Mostly these definitions involve the idea of toiling, exerting force, or employment.

A few phrases that involve work:

  • I love working in the garden.
  • I get off work at 5:00.
  • I’m been out of work for a year.
  • Do work son.
  • Work your passions.

“Work” pushes thoughts towards your own occupation or undesirable tasks you’ve done in the past. When the word “work” is mentioned it might carry a lot of baggage. When you hear the word “work” what do your thoughts drift towards?

My Experience with Work

I grew up learning how to exert force, to accomplish tasks, and to gain money and respect from doing so. My parents taught me well to work hard, though I didn’t appreciate it at the time.

The dreaded legal pad sat on the counter many an afternoon when I came home from school (one area where I didn’t work hard at till college).

The legal pad held the future of my afternoon: Chores. I grew up on the edge of the city in a pocket rural street in Alabama on a few acres of land, not the mention the acres we reclaimed from the forrest behind us. My chores could be to chop wood, move wood, burn wood, stack bricks, mow, fight back the forrest from encroaching on our land, kill fire ants, rake leaves, and the list goes on.

Needless to say these tasks involved exerting a considerable amount of energy, but it grew my character and confidence as a young lad.

Working for Pay

In turn I began working for money and I had a lot of jobs by the time I graduated college. [My First Jobs]

I began my short career as a teacher, but found it wasn’t a task I wasn’t giving nor desired to give my all to. I did enjoy coaching the cross country team and was sad to give that up.

I began realizing that the work I did needed to align more with my passions and beliefs. This lead to stint teaching English overseas and then pursing a masters degree. Eventually in 2008 I needed a “real job” again worked a job for several years which I thrived at, but found my soul dying.

In 2010 I began writing and coaching others and found my heart beating once again. 2011 found me giving my two week notice and embracing the entrepreneur life.

My journey of working for pay has evolved and I’m sure will continue to meld closer to the center of my beliefs and passions with time.

I don’t believe work is bad. I don’t believe work is the central focus of life. I don’t believe work defines me.

This conversation about work and retirement continues In the Beginning: Work and Retirement (Part 2)

What has been your experience with work? Do you have any baggage that informs your opinons about work? 

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
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  • Brent, I totally get it. My parents were of the mentality, work hard, and then work some more!! My mom asked me upon returning from elementary school, “What did you”

    • learning how to work is a skill I want to pass on to my son too.

  • maria@moneyprinciple

    It seems to me that there is a simple conceptual misunderstanding – we need to make a difference between ‘work’ and ’employment’. I don’t wish to retire and don’t work; I wish to become financially independent and not need to be employed – I’ll work till I am able to. There are so many exciting things I want to do and I hope that I’ll be granted the time to do them :).

  • Pingback: In the Beginning: Work and Retirement (Part 2) | On Target Coach()

  • AverageJoe

    Sam Dogen (FinSamurai), Dr. Dean (Millionaire Nurse), Mrs. Dr. Dean and I were having this conversation at FinCon. Work is great for the soul. I think we live to work. It feels good. Clearly you have to be doing the work you love…but life without it? No thanks.

  • AverageJoe

    Sam Dogen (FinSamurai), Dr. Dean (Millionaire Nurse), Mrs. Dr. Dean and I were having this conversation at FinCon. Work is great for the soul. I think we live to work. It feels good. Clearly you have to be doing the work you love…but life without it? No thanks.

    • Shhh…don’t give away my part 2 ! Sounds like a fun group to chat with.

  • John @ Married (with Debt)

    Hey Brent – glad to be a part of this discussion. You hit on something very important – one’s view of work often has a lot to do with the job(s) they have. I used to be an ambitious person, but that was sucked out of me by my growing disenchantment with my job. I do feel it has profoundly impacted the way I view my future, and what I’m willing to trade in exchange for “freedom.” Looking forward to Pt 2.

    • Wow! You seem ambitious to me with several online ventures…I can’t imagine what you were like before.

  • krantcents

    I find that in most cases work is more fulfilling when I have control over my destiny. I have been an executive of a number of companies and always have to answer to someone. As an entrepreneur, I only answer to myself.

    • I can identify. I also find I am a harsher boss on myself than any other employer would get away with.