Taking time off

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Taking time off

  • Time is a luxury that it is easy to take for granted.  In our late-career years and our early retirement, we managed to build and enjoy a remote mountain log cabin, traveled to Alaska, Caribbean Islands, twice to Hawaii, and twice across Europe, and treasure all the memories.  Now that we are not so able to travel, we treasure our quiet times on our deck or patio either alone or with neighbors who drop by after their workday.  With kids and grandkids scattered from Florida to Colorado, we regularly buy their airline tickets or their fuel and lodging to come visit us.

    You all may remember my old mantra that while enjoying time now you also need to plan ahead for time in retirement.  There were times that I wondered if that 15% salary deduction for my IRA was a good thing, but now I'm more convinced than ever.

    After my 'first' retirement that lasted only  a few weeks, I agreed to go back to my job and worked another three years on the basis of a substantial salary increase, very limited time in meetings, and unlimited unpaid time off so I could enjoy life with my wife.

    This past Wednesday while I was brewing my first morning coffee, I heard sirens arrive two doors down, and we found that our younger neighbor had suffered an emergency and passed away before the paramedics could get there.

    Every day that I wake up I thank God that I did.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was they day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • As the Rush lyric goes "you're only immortal for a limited time".

    A few months ago I was talking with a friend who was trying to tell his wife that they have enough money to retire early and do the things they love therefore they should retire early and do the things they love. He has a completely different attitude to risk than his wife who tends to see the situations where the retirement pot of money runs out. Turns out he won't get the chance to see it run out.

    Once you hit your 50s you will be lucky if you haven't known people who have passed early.  Certainly #sqlfamily has lost a few people ahead of their time.

    I think COVID and WFH has made people think hard about the relationship between them and their employer.  We join a company because it looks interesting and has a suitable salary package.  We stay with a company because we like the people and the culture. But when the people and culture and people are stripped away what you are left with is a relationship where you give services in return for money.

    I enjoyed the team work and camaraderie of the midnight deploys, the support rota etc and to be frank it stroked my ego too the feeling that I was important to the company.  But any employer can make a decision where your role becomes superfluous to requirements overnight and, sorry, there are no alternative positions.

    Not taking your leave, which is part of the contract you agreed, makes ever less sense when you get older.   In your 20s you have energy to spare, you can choose to do X, Y and Z.   In your 50s you probably have to choose whether to do X or Y or Z.   The value we have in IT is in being able to think, to pose creative solutions.  I'm willing to be that your best thoughts and most creative ideas did not come to you when your nose was on the grindstone.

  • David.Poole wrote:

    A few months ago I was talking with a friend who was trying to tell his wife that they have enough money to retire early and do the things they love therefore they should retire early and do the things they love. He has a completely different attitude to risk than his wife who tends to see the situations where the retirement pot of money runs out. Turns out he won't get the chance to see it run out.

    We join a company because it looks interesting and has a suitable salary package.  We stay with a company because we like the people and the culture. But when the people and culture and people are stripped away what you are left with is a relationship where you give services in return for money.

    But any employer can make a decision where your role becomes superfluous to requirements overnight and, sorry, there are no alternative positions.

    David, your friend sounds like my wife.  She constantly tell me "You should enjoy your money, because if you don't, your kids will."

    Regarding services for money, twice in my years I was abruptly 'downsized' by a company.  I had only seen a computer once when I got my first programming job to go in and learn.  But after about six months, the company downsized our group of seven programmers to only three.  No notice, just called us to a conference room, then ushered us out.

    Second time I had built a new IT shop in a family-owned company and was running it 24-7 when suddenly after 11 years they hired my new boss who immediately terminated me.

    These terminations turned out to be the shortest and the longest duration of positions in my 42 years.  And in both cases, I actually ended up better off than I had been.

    One thing I learned over the years is that benefits such as time off and retirement contributions are negotiable.  Besides salary levels I was able to get waiting periods and ramped-up vacation and retirement contributions waived from the start.  I don't know much about this currently, but it used to be common that one would only get one week of vacation for the first three years, and eligibility for profit-sharing and retirement contributions were postponed also.  One time I actually got credited with 120 hours of paid vacation day-one on the job and immediate participation in the retirement plan.

     

     

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was they day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • Working with so accountants and their general ledger systems along the way, and not having an accounting background, I did some accounting coursework.  I remember from one of those classes the cited rationale for organizations back then of having mandatory vacation policies (at least five contiguous workdays away from the office) was an anti-fraud measure, not to help people to "recharge" and be better prepared to make a contribution.  There is a real hazard in letting one's job become one's identity.  Jobs and the pay envelope and the benefits are great but those things come to an end.

    I can relate to the negotiated on-boarding.  In one interview I did what the conventional wisdom of the time said I shouldn't do and told the co-owner interviewing me my current salary. His reply was that he needed to raise that by $5000.  Vacation?  "Since you have three weeks where you're at right now, you'll have three weeks with us".  And right after that he offered me the job and I accepted on the spot.  Planning for when the job a can easily kicked down the road but a little sacrifice at the start of the journey enables one to have some choices later on.

  • "And right after that he offered me the job and I accepted on the spot.  Planning for when the job a can easily kicked down the road but a little sacrifice at the start of the journey enables one to have some choices later on."

    John, isn't it great when you know up front that the deal is right?  This would appear to be a harbinger of how things will be further down the road.  This  reminds me of the tv series Bosch where part of the theme song says 'I got a feeling that I can't let go'.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was they day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • WOW, Kathi, your experiences are worse than mine. And I thought I had it pretty bad. In my previous job I worked at a place that allowed lots of time off. I confess I stayed there, longer than I should have, in large part because they were very generous with paid time off.

    In my current position it typical American time off. i.e.: two weeks per year. After having more than double that in my previous job, this is hard to adjust to. What's worse is, like you said, the current employer seems to think that any time off I take, isn't really time off. They have, and will, call, email or text me to do some work-related thing. Still, not as bad as you describe it.

    Putting aside my work's tendency to intrude upon the time I take off, I've got other issues at home that might relaxing difficult. My son is on the autism spectrum. That other having to provide for a large family (by US standards) makes being able to go anywhere financially impossible. So, for me, taking time off simply means I am not clocking into work, but I never go anywhere. I've felt like if I were to win one of those smaller lotteries, I'd go someplace out of reach for two weeks, then just sleep.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • "While I was a database administrator, I went on a few cruises and several backpacking trips over the eight years I was in the role. There was typically no way to communicate during the backpacking trips, but while on the cruise, I would communicate via email (painfully slow!) every day with the junior DBA. It was difficult for me to relax because I couldn’t stop thinking about the servers and database."

    Kathi, I to can relate to your experience.  Even though I have been retired for a number of years now, I still play with SQL Server and SQL almost daily.  And while I do, I usually listen to music of many varieties.  I find that there are two effects on my life.

    First, I often dream about the things I'm working on, and sometimes even come up with next steps for what I'm trying to do.  And then I also find that many, many things I may read, or things said in conversations will cause me to remember the melody of some jazz I've been listening to, or the words of a song that I may not have heard for years.

    I think it may be good that we think long and often about db's and servers.  I can only hope it helps keep our mental capacities in tact.  After all, with what that new Alzheimers drug costs annually, I could buy myself lots of new computers and software, or maybe a new truck with the money.

    I've concluded that time off does not have to mean that we don't think about our work and projects and careers, but that it is a period that removes at least some of the pressure of our day-to-day lives.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was they day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • At this point I'm going to throw in an unpaid, unsolicited commercial for your time off.  I think maybe the highlight of travel for my wife and myself was a Rhine-Danube cruise across Europe.  Ours was a 21-day cruise, flew into Amsterdam and took a river boat trip all the way to Budapest, then went on to visit Romania and Ukraine.  Days were spent doing optional on-shore visits to fantastic historical places, real medieval castles, WWI and WWII sites, cathedrals, museums, concerts, tours and shopping.  Evenings were nice dinners and guest lectures about the things you would visit the following day.

    One of the amazing things was knowing that I was exploring locations that my documented ancestors from six centuries back had inhabited.

    Database?  What database?

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was they day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • Rod, you have my best wishes for your future.  I do hope that it will include well-earned time for relaxation and enjoyment.  For right now, try to at least include a time once in a while to sit and relax and enjoy a glass of wine with loved ones and turn off the computers and telephones.

    We have a son and family living directly across the street.  They own a business, employ about 14 people, and I don't think we've seen them in over a week.  He's 50 years old this fall, and told me that last year alone they salted away a million for their retirement.  I do hope he gets to enjoy it.  They manage to get away some afternoons for bicycle rides without cell phones.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was they day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • skeleton567 wrote:

    Rod, you have my best wishes for your future.  I do hope that it will include well-earned time for relaxation and enjoyment.  For right now, try to at least include a time once in a while to sit and relax and enjoy a glass of wine with loved ones and turn off the computers and telephones.

    We have a son and family living directly across the street.  They own a business, employ about 14 people, and I don't think we've seen them in over a week.  He's 50 years old this fall, and told me that last year alone they salted away a million for their retirement.  I do hope he gets to enjoy it.  They manage to get away some afternoons for bicycle rides without cell phones.

    Thank you, Rick. I am especially mindful of needed to relax more, since a coworker of mine passed away in 2019. We were close in age and coincidentally he and I both had the same first name. Although he was a manager, whereas I'm an individual contributor. Anyway, in 2019 he suffered a stroke. He was divorced and lived alone. It was several hours before anyone realized there was something wrong, which is what contributed to his eventual demise a week later. Rod worked extremely hard and rarely took time off. That kind of dedication to one's job may have been acceptable back in the 40's, 50's and 60's, but I think it's got to change now.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • I used to struggle to take time off. When in Ops positions, I was always a bit worried (and always semi on-call). I'd check on things, and people would call me. When I owned SQL Server Central, I was responsible for the newsletter every day, and was always working, even on holiday.

    Now, working for Redgate, I have gotten better, and the company is much better about covering and ensuring that I can go away without worry. I've had two 6wk sabbaticals in my 14 years, and I could ignore emails and not have people contact me. I can take vacation, and someone else will be responsible and not bother me. A lot of that is the company support, and a little is me letting go.

    This year, 2021, for the first time, I'm about to run out of vacation. I have a few things planned for Aug/Sept, and then I'll likely be out of vacation, which is incredible. That hasn't been the case in years past, where I often have  a few days at the end of the year.

     

  • I thought it was cool that Alice, our manager at the time, came up with a plan so that you could take that sabbatical last year. It took a team of us to do it, but we managed to keep things humming along.

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