Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Real Thing

My thoughts were much provoked by Mister Squirrel's recent post.

His final paragraph made me want to try to pinpoint what we are actually searching for in our quest for early retirement. On the surface this seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. Who wants to go to work? Don't we all want to be released from that particular shackle? But this isn't as self-evidently true as it seems at first sight. Many people (especially whose who are self employed) can't (or don't) separate "work" from "life". What they do has somehow become a part of what they are. I'm sure that examples of this kind of person can be found in many, if not all occupations - farmers, motor cycle mechanics, teachers, politicians, bank managers and corner shop owners.

There is a subtle difference between those of us who "suffer" work and long to be free of it and those who, although they may grumble about the pain of getting out of bed on a cold winter morning, then go on to engage in a working day that they have no need to examine because they know that it has been a good use of their time.

The difference lies in that word "engage". Work should have a purpose that can easily be seen by the person doing it. If we start to ask ourselves "What am I doing this for?" we have moved into a very toxic work situation. People who are bored, uninvolved, unappreciated, unskilled and/or not paid a fair wage soon become disengaged. The working environment is becoming worse for many people. Zero hours contracts only serve to give them the message that they are valued simply as "job fodder" to fill in. Good employers are few and far between with the government now encouraging them to fall to the lowest legal level in the name of economic "growth" (sic) -. This is what happens. 

I wouldn't go as far as to claim that this kind of blatant contempt for dignity at work is what is behind my dream to get out soon. I work in the public sector. Employment law is followed to the letter. No, it's a little more subtle than that. I used to know I was doing a good job, and I still do. I still see direct evidence that what I make happen is valued by the public and improves the lives of those who use it. But things are changing. What I'm also now seeing is services being cut and downgraded not, despite what we are told - believe me I know first hand what kind of savings we are not making - not due to financial necessity, but due to a political agenda fired by the belief that those services shouldn't exist at all. Libraries, youth centres, museums, transport to school for disabled youngsters, mental health hospital beds, emergency duty social workers - all under threat. It breaks my heart to work where I have to see this happening.

It seems that I have become disengaged due to a political shift that, for the first time in my working life, has given me cause to doubt the organisation that I work for at a very deep level. Maybe I've been lucky to keep my faith for so long but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt now. The work I do is no longer "The Real Thing" and the time has come to find something that is.

This leads me on to weenie's kind nomination for the Liebster award. She explains it very well so I won't repeat the rules, but here are my answers to her questions:

1. What's your favourite holiday destination? - Skipton, the Dales. For the fish and chips, pork pies, dog walks up Phen-y-ghent and great pubs

2. What piece of financial advice would you give to your 18 year old self? - Live for today but try to put a little away for tomorrow

3. What was your favourite book when you were a child? - The "Little House on the Prairie" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - the books are nothing at all like the twee television series. 

4. What's your favourite quote? - “your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” (Anthony Bourdain)

5. Which song is currently on your top play list of your iPod/generic MP3 player/radio? - "What's so funny about peace, love and understanding" Elvis Costello

And finally, I hope weenie will forgive me if I follow the spirit of the award but not the letter by just nominating one blog:

This is "nomaggsrush - diary of a wandering boomer". Not an early retirement/PF/Investing blog but definitely what I'm doing all this stuff for. 

Signing out with Elvis:-


  1. Thanks for answering the questions, Cerridwen. Love your quote, I'm going to have to nick that one and use it at some point! :-)

    1. My thanks again to you for the nomination. :-)

  2. I like your blog Cerridwen! Ten years ago my job was tough but enjoyable. Now it's tough and miserable. Bullying has taken over in all companies in my field, so I'm quitting at 60. I've been saving like mad for the past few years, and now I'm happily surprised to find my tiny NHS pension from the 1970s kicks in at 60! Ah, the NHS. Something is nasty is going on there, as is happening in your Public Services. People working there are not happy now. I don't know what to do, who to vote for. Reading early retirement/simple living blogs helps, your link to Nomaggsrush provided an enjoyable trail!

    1. Hi Rowan Tree. Thank you for your comment. I know what you mean about how the working environment has changed, and is still changing, and not for the better either. This is a reflection of how we live today, and what we value I'm afraid. But change can always swing around the other way, so my approach is to live to my own rules as far as possible and subvert from within as much as I can, whilst we wait for the tide to change, as one day it must :-) Good luck with your plans for the future.

  3. Great post and follow up comments! It will be interesting to see how much/if the tide changes over the next decade. I agree that at some point it must do as well!

    I have become disillusioned with the cause of my work (I'm certainly not helping anyone out at the current company I work for, let's just leave it at that) yet at some point I used to think it was great. Not sure whether to ride it out for another 4-5 years or cut the cord now and find something perhaps lower paying but more morally satisfying. Certainly leaning towards the latter right now, as I don't see the point in prolonging for any longer than needed. Learning to live frugally has proven I don't need the money, so my exit route might be more simple than I originally thought. I will still keep saving for earlier than normal retirement tho, whatever I end to doing, because... Well, why wouldn't you? :)

    1. Thanks FS, and I agree. Life is too short to waste it doing "work" that doesn't make any sense to us if we are lucky enough to have a choice, or are able to carve one out for ourselves.