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Mixed Feelings About Work

Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 3, 2018 4:40 pm

As many here know, I've been dreading returning to my job and hoping for an early retirement.  It's funny now that it's a possibility, I don't know what I want to do.  I hate the stress of my full-time job and the commute, but sometimes miss the routine.  I wouldn't mind a part-time job or even some sort of volunteer job.  I'm a little worried to jump into retirement because if I work one more year I will get my full pension and be better off financially.  I looked at the numbers and although it doesn't sound like a lot of difference, it would be an adjustment.  I think I need a part-time job.  I'm talking with my financial planner on Tuesday before I speak with my Manulife caseworker.  It's a strange vortex to be in!


Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 4, 2018 9:34 am

scaredysquirrel‍ , I know your dilemma without the complication of a cancer diagnosis - or a commute!

I worried, and fretted, for six months before I took early retirement. What would I do, could my investments supplement my income, would I lose my sense of “daily discipline,” would I need a part time job? 

Like you, I had conversations with the pension people, and my “financial guy” (who, by the way, was most reassuring).

Then I remembered a line from The Artist’s Way that said, “Leap and the net will appear.” (All the advisors had bloody well shown me the net!) So, I did it — I retired 7 months early.  And I haven’t looked back.

While I really, really liked my job, it appears I had chosen the right time to leave it, because the transition was seamless: I just stopped getting up every morning at 6:30 a.m. and getting in the car at 8.

During my “period of angst” people told me things like, “you won’t need a wardrobe,” “you won’t spend as much money on gas,” (not that that’s a thing with a 10 minute commute),  and, “you’ll spend your money differently.” All of these things have turned out to be true. Even though I didn’t have a commute, per se, suddenly, the car sat 2-3 days a week, and I did my errands on the other days, so I did end up spending less money on gas. I bought my lunch every day in the cafeteria, and suddenly I wasn’t spending that $35 bucks a week. Two years later, I’m still ditching old work clothes I’ll never wear again, and I’ve likely spent half of my wardrobe budget that I used to. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve worn panty hose 3 times in the last 2 years, and I was wearing them 5 days a week! Think of the savings right there!

I haven’t had to get a part-time job, but even if I did, think of the hours saved in commuting and the extra time you’d have to insert more gardening or crafting or reading into your days. 

You know far better than I what life can throw at you at a personal level, although, in the first two years of my retirement I lost (in chronological order), my dog and my mother, and accompanied my Dad on his recent journey with lung cancer. Because of these 3 events alone, I feel silly for worrying for six months about taking the leap, and instead I’ve become grateful that I did it.  That being said, you must do what’s right for you. Talk to your financial guy, do a little more number crunching, and make your decision.

You know I wish you all the best. Private message me if you have any detailed questions — I lost my benefits when I retired, but I took a “follow me package” for extended health, and have self-insured my dental care — that’s working out great - it will soon be part of my travel fund!

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Jcs123 on Aug 4, 2018 10:11 am

Hi Scaredycat, I understand where you are coming from. I too struggled with deciding could I return to work or take early retirement. I urge you to take your time, I also suggest to return to work over a graduated period if possible. Work with you Rehab Consultant from Manulife and your workplace to set up a workable plan. Do not rush into anything especially not retirement. Remember that reduced pension is forever. I have just returned to work on a graduated plan and for me it’s the best thing I could have done. Keeping me busy, using my mind and making me feel normal whatever that means now. lol. I feel that I am in control not the cancer diagnosis. I will eventually retire but on my terms and when I want. Try to envision where you want to be in 5 years. Returning to work gives you hope a sense of future. Hope you make the right decision for you. But at least try returning to work, then if it’s not for you, you will have made an informed decision. Cheers and good luck

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 4, 2018 1:11 pm

Wow, Cynthia Mac‍ , you know exactly how I feel!  I love that saying  “Leap and the net will appear."  It's probably true.  I'm finding myself looking up part-time jobs in New Westminster.  My commute to Richmond is horrible, over one hour each way by transit and driving is not much better especially if there is an accident or road work going on.  Of course, commuting anywhere in the lower mainland by bus or car is always full of surprises, especially in the winter.  I do like my job but got tired of the micromanagement and constant management changes.  Also my job involves a lot of heavy lifting at different times of the year - I work in a University bookstore.  I wouldn't even mind a part-time position, but my position is full time.  I find myself getting up early in the morning thinking, "could I go back?" Then I hear the skytrain going by and any feelings of going to work soon disappear - lol!  I know what you mean about saving money as I've sort of had a picture of what retirement will look like through my cancer treatments and recovery period.  I too don't drive as much and my husband and I are sharing my car - he sold his car last summer.  I don't need to replenish my work wardrobe and don't need to pack a lunch every day or buy coffee daily.  Plus I'm saving money on transit, that adds up too.  I guess, I will have to see what my Financial adviser says and then my Manulife caseworker.  If I do end up going back it will only have to be for  about a year and a half as I'll be 64 in December and can take full pension the following year.  Thanks again for sharing your experience and tips.  I'll keep you posted and will PM you if I have any more questions, all the best to you!

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 4, 2018 1:20 pm

Hi Jcs123‍ , "Scaredycat" would be a good name too! lol.  Yes, I'm really thinking about my options and will speak with Manulife next Wed.  I've only got about a year and a half to go to get a full pension, so it's not really that bad when I think about it.  I guess it's just that I've gotten out of the daily routine of working and commuting.  I do need something to keep my mind occupied and sense of self-worth.  I've thought a lot about part-time work or even volunteering.  I wish my job could be reduced to part-time, but I doubt that could happen.  I could retire and get put on the auxiliary list again (that's how I started my job 20 years ago!).  Some do that, retire and then come back on call.  It's an idea.  I would rather have a part-time job closer to home.  Anyway, thanks for your advice and tips.  I will be making a decision pretty quickly in the next week or so.  I will keep everyone posted.  Thanks again.  Enjoy the weekend!


Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 4, 2018 3:01 pm

scaredysquirrel‍ , You’re going into this with both eyes open, that’s for sure, and that’s a good thing.

Retirement has enabled me (seriously, enable is the right word) to pursue all my textile interests. If you don’t have something that is grabbing your attention as much as that did for me, you’re wise to be considering other options such as volunteering and part-time work.

Have you factored in early CPP as well? I’m not yet old enough to get it (soon...) Plus, you’re close enough to getting OAS as well that you might “tight belt” it for a year or so. Or not! It’s entirely your call!

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Jackwb on Aug 4, 2018 4:26 pm

 I've only got about a year and a half to go to get a full pension, so it's not really that bad when I think about it.  I guess it's just that I've gotten out of the daily routine of working and commuting.  I do need something to keep my mind occupied and sense of self-worth. 

Hi, this is our story, my wife's and mine.

I retired at 55, my wife was 53 when she decided to accept an early retirement package at work. They bridged her at full salary until she was 55, then she received three years severance and her full pension entitlement (and benefits) with no penalty.

She tried to retire but found that she wasn't ready so she accepted a position that she liked...it was good as she was receiving her full salary from her old company as well as a similar amount at the new place. After a year she tried again but still wasn't ready so when another company called, she accepted the position and stayed 4 more years  (she loved this job). Did retirement 3.0 at 58.

So now she volunteers, teaches a course at our local hospice, another course at the health centre (Living with Chronic Pain), works with handicapped seniors, mostly physiotherapy for heart and stroke survivors, is on the board at our YMCA, and has time to work with her rug hooking guild people. She wants to do more but as a snowbird, she's away in the winter and most places need you year round.

We both took CPP at 60, got OAS at 65.

So, just a long way of saying that Life 2.0 starts at retirement...I do nothing of value, she stays very busy, some days I need an appointment to see her.

Enjoy the weekend...long weekend in Ontario, you?

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 4, 2018 8:31 pm

Sounds good Cynthia Mac‍ .  Yes, I'm factoring in early CPP.  That would be a little more as well if I put off until 65.  Like you say it's only tightening the belt for about a year.  My husband retired at 58.  He took a buyout from work, he just now started his CPP as he turned 60 in January.  I'm not against taking an early retirement, but wouldn't mind transitioning to part-time and then retiring.  I'm so used to working full time I feel weird and somewhat guilty because I'm not at work.  I wonder does that feeling ever leave? I want to look before I leap, that's why I'm checking all the boxes first! lol.  Thanks for your support.  

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 4, 2018 8:37 pm

Wow, Jackwb‍ you and your wife retired young!  I can get the bridge as well until 65 although it does not seem like much.  My husband retired a couple of years ago at 58.  He is 60 now and really loves his freedom.  I don't really want to go back for another year, but worry about not having enough to get by for at least a year and also what to do to fill the days.  My job really kept me hopping for many years.  I still have dreams I'm at work. lol. Thanks for sharing your experience, it really helps to read how others have handled this important step.

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 4, 2018 11:04 pm

“Guilty because I’m not at work.”  Let me think...no, no, definitely not that.  More like, “This is my time. This is my return for working 8:30 to 4:30 for 39 years.”

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 5, 2018 12:49 am

Cynthia Mac‍ , that's what my husband says!  ha, ha.


Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Jackwb on Aug 5, 2018 2:18 pm

Cynthia Mac

“Guilty because I’m not at work.”

Lucky you...I'm constantly surprised how many people define themselves by their jobs and have a real problem when they retire. I've learned that the most popular tee-off time at golf clubs everywhere is between 8:00 and 9:00 AM because the retirees need to stay in that routine of going to work. Many companies have retiree associations where the members continue to continue to meet socially and have shared activities. One of my neighbours in Florida is 83 and still working...his first question to me was if I was ever worried about what to do when I retired...his second question was if I am a conservative or liberal (in the American sense).

Very sad..it even took my wife 5 years after retiring to retire for good, but then she still sort of working but for free. 

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by ACH2015 on Aug 6, 2018 8:01 am


Is there a line we are not supposed to cross that defines the right balance between social and work life?

If so, I guess I failed to stay on the right side of that line myself. I struggle to this day with having had to leave my profession (over two years ago) - not because I wanted to, but because I had to, given my set of circumstances. 

I worked shift work for almost three decades, that in itself changes your social life and the patterns, and separates you, even from those M - F,  "9 to 5ers" I have not been a part of since the late 80's. So I guess I've been in my own little sub group of the unbalanced for the last thirty years. It's not sad to me, just the way it was. 

Balance, I am slowly learning in my late 50's is an individual experience and some will fall right into retirement with ease. And some of us will "struggle" with redefining ourselves and our lives when we leave the workforce - voluntarily or not. Not sad, just the way it is. Because we aren't all built the same, nor will we all fit into the same mold - even if we try - even if we want to.

My life balance has been unbalanced for years - lots of reasons and not just due to cancer paying me a never ending visit like a house guest that overstayed its welcome.

I guess I'm trying to say what is right for you is just that - right for you and not everyone will fit that bill.

Work is life, and life is work. In my world. It's been decades since life balance just kinda happened for me. Since around '75 its been work to stay or find whatever balance I have. 

I'm still learning to accept that what is right for me is not necessarily right for others, and I've been guilty of that here on the site. I've been working to change that flawed perception I have.

Personally, I would rather be remembered by my peers, family and friends for the good work I did and took pride in everyday, and be able to look myself in the mirror and say "I did my job, I did my best" because that's what is important to me. The cost if you will, to how others may perceive was imbalance. I crossed that balance line I guess. 

Work was in my adult life always my first priority in my profession. Not saying it was right, and its not sad to me, just the way it was.

Keep well

ACH2015 - Andy.


Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Jackwb on Aug 6, 2018 8:45 am


Life is sort of like that...when I met my wife, she was 17 and just graduated from high school, I was 19, driving a fork lift in a warehouse, and had serious substance abuse issues. We dated, then when I was 20 I took the midnight train to anywhere. Lived in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India for about a year, came back, my parents let me live in their garage until I found a job, and was a confirmed substance abuse person. She was 21, I was 23 when we married, she cut me off from my friends, had me enroll as an extension student at UofT...5 years later we had a two year old daughter, bought our first house, I was clean, had a new B.A., and we both had real jobs and began to climb the corporate ladder.

We wanted to do good, ended up doing really well.

And I hated every minute of the working part, always wanting to return to my former impulsive, unstructured lifestyle. At 55 I made it happen, never looked back...I now have no commitments, do what I want, when I want, as does my wife. She needs a structure, volunteers for everything yet we compliment each other, as we always have.

Life is good, even with our health issues...we're still a couple of kids having fun, both of us are still on that train to anywhere looking forward to the next stop. Both of us were very well known and respected in our careers, we still get job offers that we laugh off...I turned down an offer three weeks ago, just the thought of going back made my butt slam shut.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. 

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 16, 2018 1:08 am

I've been reading every ones responses here and quite enjoying the mixed reactions to leaving your job and how you feel about it.  Jackwb‍ , my husband did shift work at Safeway - night crew graveyard for about 40  years, before that he worked at Woodwards which was bought out by Safeway.  To this day we don't know how he stood it.  He's a very happy camper now that he's retired.  I'm struggling with the whole process.  I thought I'd be thrilled to throw in the towel on a work schedule, but find myself missing the structure of my job.  I do have the option to return and pick up where I left off when the cancer hit me.  It's tempting, but I'm still feeling fatigue from the Letrozole and Zoledronic Acid Infusion - when I have it.  I don't know if I'm up to the long daily commute and putting in the day at work.  I used to do it routinely.  Unfortunately, my pension is not that robust.  I've been number crunching all week.  Of course, if I go back I can build up more pension credits until 65 and then go.  I don't know.  I'm okay financially for the time being.but tend to worry about the future.  What I would really like is a part time job close to home.  I just don't know where to find it.  I'm so sick of having a long commute every day.  It wears me down.  I've been reading a really good book about retirement and it's shed a lot of light on what retirement  and having a job means to different people.  It isn't just about the money for sure.  Oh well, I have to be brave and take the leap, I guess

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by princessmaura on Aug 16, 2018 1:51 pm

scaredysquirrel‍, I hope you get a part-time job close to your home...would it be another retail job?   
I understand the fatigue you are feeling from the Letrozole and Zoledronic Acid Infusion...I am still dealing with the aftereffects of the chemo I underwent over two years ago...

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 16, 2018 6:34 pm

Thanks Princess Maura‍ , glad you're back!  Yes, it would be ideal to have a part-time job closer to home.  I would rather it was with my employer, but my job is full time.  I'm not sure HR or my Dept. would be willing to accommodate me that much.  I haven't asked of course.  Unfortunately the new Health and Wellness HR contact is on vacation, I can't even contact her to ask her what my options are.  The only thing I could do is to go through the rehab process with Manulife and see what happens.  It's a very frustrating situation to be in.  I just want to make a decision one way or the other.  Thanks for your encouragement.

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 17, 2018 8:46 am

scaredysquirrel‍ , It’s easy for me to say this, because I’m on the outside (you can’t see it when you’re in it, as they say). The answer to your riddle is in YOUR posts. 

I don’t know if this will help or not, but it would be interesting to see you take your posts here on CC (just your own posts, not our input/ feedback) and paste them into a word document in chronological order. Read them the next day and see if you see it. 

I do this with my writing - when I finish an article, I cut and paste it into my e-mail which changes the font.. Then when I read it the next day any typos or sentence structure errors pop out at me. My suggestion is somewhat based on this idea. You could even highlight in one colour all the “pros” you find in your statements, and all the “cons” in another colour. 


Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by princessmaura on Aug 17, 2018 12:02 pm

scaredysquirrel‍, thanks for welcoming me back to cancerconnection.ca.  That would be nice if you could get a part-time position with your old job in the university bookstore, then things would be less stressful for you since the long commute is difficult for you to endure, as well as you having to cope with fatigue from the cancer drugs you are on...I know how conflicting and confusing choices can be...I hope you can come to a decision and feel at peace about it...you are welcome...I am glad to be of some help...

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Dielle on Aug 17, 2018 12:25 pm

scaredysquirrel‍ I understand your fears and uncertainty about returning to work.  A few things that helped me when I was planning my return was to remember that the decision made at the time did not have to be permanent and to realize that the way I felt at the time was likely not the way I would feel in the future.  So I gave myself some time to try it out and see how it felt and had some Plan B's in mind (modifying the work load or going part time).

In your case, if you're note really sure about giving up on the financial aspects of your job perhaps you can try going through the rehab and talking with your company about your options.  You might be pleasantly surprised at what comes up.  If the options they have don't work for you, you can always quit.  Just because you come back doesn't mean you are agreeing to stay for years.  And in the meantime perhaps you can explore some ideas for some part-time work closer to home.

Don't get tied up into believing that you need to come back at the same level of capacity that you had before.  Allow yourself the time to get used to the work again and don't let others set those expectations for you.

Good luck, scaredysquirrel.  I hope you find your answers.

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Brighty on Aug 17, 2018 2:32 pm

Cynthia Mac‍  I like your suggestions.   You always think outside  the box!!! scaredysquirrel‍  from the posts I've been reading it seems you are leaning more toward retirement.   I could be wrong.... I say go for it and enjoy your life!!! But ultimately  it's your decision     good luck!!

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 18, 2018 4:23 pm

Great suggestions, ‍Cynthia Mac‍ .  Yes, I've reread some of my posts and the same theme keeps emerging - early retirement, part-time job, close to home.  It's almost become my mantra, so to speak.  I guess I'm just afraid to take the leap.  My husband and my friends who've retired assure me it all works out you just have to take the leap.  I sometimes get up in the morning and look out my window thinking thank goodness I don't have to run for the bus in this weather! Although right now it's very pleasant, and still warm.  Fall is fast approaching though.  I like your idea of putting my thoughts in a word document, it would be an interesting read!

Dielle‍ , that's true, nothing is forever.  Realistically I only have 1.5 year to full retirement.  I could go back on a gradual return and then just put in the time or not if it's too much for me.  I do have that option.  Like you say HR might be able to find me a desk job in another Dept.  I haven't even explored that possibility.  Sometimes things turn out better than you think if you keep forging ahead.  Thanks for your great insight.  I'll keep everyone posted.  

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 18, 2018 4:25 pm

Brighty‍ , thanks again for your support, it really makes a difference to me.  

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by Brighty on Aug 18, 2018 5:02 pm

scaredysquirrel‍  you are welcome, let us know what you decide to do!

Re: Mixed Feelings About Work

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 18, 2018 11:05 pm

Okay will do...