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Old 01-06-08, 01:52 PM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Dialing back & Spinning up in '08

Anyone else dealing with stress issues?

Posted about it here a couple of times before - I've been fighting stress issues & symptoms for a couple of years now. Have always had problems with shredding stress, but it has gotten worse in recent years. Used to be able to take a week off, de-stress, and be okay for a few months. Now taking a week off works for about the next week and then I'm right back where I was before.

So I've spoken with my boss and worked out a plan wherein I'm taking a half-step down/sideways in the organization to distance myself more from those things which create the most stress for me (dealing with difficult personnel matters) and doing more analytical work - which is certainly my natural place to be.

At the same time, I've also requested to reduce my assignment to 90%. This will be implemented in the form of working 5 days one week and 4 days the next. So every other weekend will be a 3-day weekend. As time has passed, I've found that long stretches of 5-day work weeks have started beating me down.

This will have a hit on my income to the tune of a $15K/yr decrease. But as I have now finished supporting 16 years of college education for my 4 oldest (in 3 years it will start again, but at least only one in at a time), the net disposable income in '08 will be higher than it was in '06. So I don't consider the decrease to be an issue at all.

If I stay at this level, which I expect I will, it will reduce my annual retirement income from my pension by about $7K/yr. Don't like that. But I have to make it to retirement to collect it and I just might not make it there at the current pace.

I also plan to use more vacation in '08. I've been saving and banking it for years - to the point of where I now have 50 days of paid vacation accrued. Time to use start using more of it. Plan is to use 2 more weeks than I have typically averaged using.

Once you work through all of the math (including losing 10% of my annual vacation, etc.), the net is that I will be off of work an additional 33 days in '08 than my typical year.

On top of that is a bonus from my church. We share a building with another congregation and this year is our year to start at 9AM instead of 11.

So instead of coming into say the 4th weekend of a month after having worked 5 days a week every week, being so tired on Saturday that it's hard to be excited about taking a ride and then not having time until 3PM on Sunday to ride - the scenario will now be:

- Just had a day off 2 weeks before.
- Coming off of a 4-day work week and so less tired on Friday than I used to be on Saturday.
- Having all day Friday & Saturday, plus after noon on Sunday.
- This repeats every two weeks

With the cherry on top of the whipped cream being taking off 7 full weeks of vacation spread over the year.

I can hardly wait for the weather to improve. I hope to ride much more in '08, get into other hobbies more, read more, spend more time with family.

Last edited by Tom Bombadil; 01-06-08 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 01-06-08, 03:04 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great plan Tom. I wish I could follow a similar path, I'm self employed, so I know how stress can mount up on someone. Our health care provider just notified me of a 17% premium increase starting next month. Taxes are due, etc,etc, the joys of having your own business. Sorry for the rant, good luck this year I'm sure you will see immediate results.

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Old 01-06-08, 03:07 PM   #3
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Have to admit that I could see the stress building up several years ago and did something about it then. This occured about the time of the prostate issues so I took out a lot of responsibility and stopped doing the extra hours that it used to involve.

Can't say I am happy about kids in nappies messing up the years of work I had put in- but not my responsibility any longer and overall- I am happier. And If I do have to sort out the problems- I let everyone know how they messed up and what will happen next time they do it. (Thats the fun part)
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Old 01-06-08, 03:12 PM   #4
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Tom......kudos for being proactive and making some healthy rearrangements for yourself and your family. May this year find a harmonious balance for you. For many of us, the primacy of careers seems to be fading as we want to re-enter the warmth of family and our personal lives and find something new and old inside that world. Cycle of life?

Dylan Thomas' "Don't go gentle into that good night" is not about sustaining a youthful taste for conflict or escaping death, but about finding and asserting your Self. Now you've got the time.

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Old 01-06-08, 03:36 PM   #5
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I should have been much more proactive and taken these kinds of steps 18 months ago. I have consistently waited too long to deal with my stress issues each step of the way - in part because I didn't want to have to make them and so each time convinced myself I didn't need to. And I was wrong every time.

I liken my condition to someone who injures their knee or back and then doesn't follow the full path to recovery. They half-treat it and then subject it to full pressure again and again, continually re-injuring the initial condition. Then half-treat it again and repeat the entire process. Eventually they get to the point of where their knee or back can now only handle half or less of the load it used to. That's how I am on stress. I overload so much more quickly than I used to.

What I really need to do is to take 6 months off. The mere thought of doing so makes my heart flutter. I know this would be best for me long-term, but don't know how to pull it off - given financial and job concerns.

So while I'm really looking forward to my new '08 plan & schedule and I know it will help, I also know that it still isn't enough. In any case, I know it will be better than trying to stay where I'm at for another year, as I'm not even certain I could make it another year without severe problems.

It's been an interesting journey, one where I have had less control over my own well-being than I've ever had. One cannot simply analyze and reason away stress problems.
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Old 01-06-08, 06:08 PM   #6
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Tom, one question and one suggestion, based on the perhaps incorrect assumption that you work at a college and you are not a teacher:

Can't you work from home some? Colleges have great information channels.

Although colleges are way more used to people working less than 40 hours a week, you might want to add in your vacation time slowly... let them get used to seeing that the new hours aren't going to cause problems, first. Otherwise, you might be seen as mentally not part of the place any more.

But it sure sounds great!
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Old 01-06-08, 06:29 PM   #7
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No option to do my job from home - outside of the infrequent opportunity. Too much interaction with other people required. We do have a number of people working from home, where that is appropriate.

The vacation will be spaced out over the year. Roughly a week every two months. This won't be a problem, as my boss travels a lot and is used to not seeing me for 2-3 weeks at a time. Likewise for being out every other Friday. As I travel less than others at my level, by my own choice, this will bring me in line with some of my peers as to how often I am in my office. Right now I'm in the office far more than any of them.
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Old 01-06-08, 06:29 PM   #8
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BTW: with your extra free time, read this article.

It's at test Bicycle Guide did. Mondonico made 7 virtually identical bikes (down to the spoke tension), only with 7 different types of Columbus tubing. The riders then compared the rides.

http://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Articles/SteelShootOut.pdf
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Old 01-06-08, 07:05 PM   #9
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Reading that article reminded me of how far my interests lie from that type of riding. It is also another confirmation of how blind testing, in this case barely blind, can make it difficult to sense things that you think are very obvious when you know what you are using. I've proven this over and over again when testing audio components.

Given that I never "hammer", never corner at high speed (or even moderate speed), and never ride downhill at higher speeds, any differences in these bikes on those characteristics are lost on me.

As a statistician, I would consider this rider's observations to have dubious value, as he did not repeat the rides in a different order to confirm his findings. Riding them once each induces biases into one's observations. Likewise having only one rider, with obviously only one weight and one set of performance characteristics, reduces their value.

But to someone who respects and values that author's opinions, they could have value.
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Old 01-06-08, 08:17 PM   #10
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Scaling Back

Tom, truly do relate to your situation. I am a high-strung type A, getting 220 on a 110 line. I have been self-employed my entire life, and pretty much work 6-7 days. I had my first mid-life crisis 7 years ago, left a very lucrative job because I felt that I would suffocate if I stayed. I had already dealt with ulcers, migraines, etc. and am totally convinced that I needed a change.

I chased my dream of building homes and now everything I own is invested in the ground and at risk. This haywire market has me on the edge of my seat and I have already had one emotional meltdown, lost 11 lbs. and my health started deteriorating.

I am in a state of step back and look at what is important to me. I am not sure of which path I will take, but if I continue the direction I am in, I will definitely end up in a hospital.

Riding is my only escape that I can take part of on a regular basis. It's just so hard to deal with everything that is going on and have the time or energy (Physical or Mental) to ride as much as I want to. It looks like you have made the decisions of what is important and picked a path. Congratulations, I admire your ability to make that decision.
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Old 01-06-08, 08:32 PM   #11
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Stress is a killer, pure and simple. We extol those who work hard - hard work is the key to the American dream - but hard work kills people. I credit stress and a sedentary lifestyle for causing my colon cancer. It will cause heart troubles, obesity, depression, and any number of other physical and emotional difficulties. Here's another thing I've learned: It's not worth it. I admire those who have been able to achieve a solid and secure retirement through their working years, but to achieve it at the price of their health, either physical or mental, is likely not worth it. I want to enjoy retirement, not spend it debilitated and suffering. If that means fewer dollars but more days in the sun, it's the right choice.
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Old 01-06-08, 08:44 PM   #12
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...those things which create the most stress for me (dealing with difficult personnel matters) and doing more analytical work - which is certainly my natural place to be.
In a fairly recent former life, I managed a chemical plant. The personnel issues were always the worst part of my job. Repairing equipment such as pumps, tanks, lines, motors etc. is a matter of time and money. You can fix mechanical problems and they pretty much go away, and the little molecules do what they're supposed to do if you add the right amounts of the right stuff in the right order.

Would that people were as predictable as chemicals and their problems as easy to repair as a malfunctioning level indicator. I can relate, somewhat, to your problems. Ride and lean on your faith.
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Old 01-06-08, 08:46 PM   #13
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Thanks. Most of the people I hear similar stories from are Type As. Oddly enough, I'm a Type B. Have patience a mile long. If I had a bit more of a Type A side, to blow off stress, I would have been better off over the long run.

One of the prime contributing factors to my stress issues is that I care too much. After a lot of study, I've found that my issues most closely correlate to the stress problems suffered by nurses, doctors, teachers, and clergy. The studies I've read on those groups, summarizing their common stress symptoms, match mine.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:00 PM   #14
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Tom, you're a smart man. I'd give your left track nut for 7 weeks off a year. I'm lucky in that my job stress is actually pretty manageable these days. Either that, or the fact that Lovey refers to me as Mister Oblivious has merit. But really, I pretty much come and go as I please, no one really understands much what I do, and we seem to be making a little money somehow. Those all add up to not much stress. The biggest problem I have to deal with next week is what kind of new truck do I want to drive for the next couple of years, and how do I resolve a new company policy mandating 24 MPG with the need for a vehicle that I can take off road when necessary.

I understand what you are saying about dealing with difficult personnell matters being a primary source of stress for you. One thing I've finally at long last come to realize is the only person who I have any degree of control over at all is me. Everyone else has to take full responsibility for what they do or don't do. As a manager of people, that has been a great source of freedom from worry and guilt when I have to make unpleasant choices about how to deal with people problems that are most certainly inevitable. Now I calculate what is best for the business and the staff, and do that, and do not worry about what the affected people think about me for doing my job. I've found that the people that matter, those who are not the source of the problems are happy with that approach. My bosses have finally come to understand that about me too, and are supportive. I'm pretty sure God is OK with it too, he does not bother me much at night anymore.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:13 PM   #15
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The 7 weeks is going to be great. The result of paying my dues in the past by not taking it, which wasn't so smart. I get 5 weeks a year, been taking 4 and banking 1 for the future. I now have 10 banked. So I can go to 7 a year for the next 5 years, taking my full 5 and drawing 2 out of the bank.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:20 PM   #16
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Reading that article reminded me of how far my interests lie from that type of riding. It is also another confirmation of how blind testing, in this case barely blind, can make it difficult to sense things that you think are very obvious when you know what you are using. I've proven this over and over again when testing audio components.

Given that I never "hammer", never corner at high speed (or even moderate speed), and never ride downhill at higher speeds, any differences in these bikes on those characteristics are lost on me.

As a statistician, I would consider this rider's observations to have dubious value, as he did not repeat the rides in a different order to confirm his findings. Riding them once each induces biases into one's observations. Likewise having only one rider, with obviously only one weight and one set of performance characteristics, reduces their value.

But to someone who respects and values that author's opinions, they could have value.
Well, the reason I thought you would find it interesting is the lack of difference an expert found in a range of tubing. What I took from it was that, like almost everything, the last 10% takes 90% of the resources (money). I figured it would provide some input to your mental chart... i.e. that the differences that are written about may be so tiny as to be imperceptible. It might change your rankings of what's important to consider.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:24 PM   #17
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It sounds like it will work out perfectly! It sounds like it was the smartest thinking, and I admire that you "thought outside the box" enough to work out a solution that would work. That takes a lot of thinking... most people would get another job or just quit and hope for the best. Have you been trying to come on a solution for 18 months?

The back thing must have helped you pull the trigger?
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Old 01-06-08, 09:38 PM   #18
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I wrote almost that same paragraph, but deleted it before posting. Yes, I do think it does tend to show that, although that statement would be even stronger if it had been supported by 3 or 4 test riders. Or if this test rider had ridden them more. Sometimes one doesn't fully appreciate the differences between two things until they use them a lot. A difference that might have been obscured by having to test so many bikes in such a short time, could be more noticeable over a series of long rides. Perhaps even to the point of it being a major issue, either positive or negative.

However to a casual or even somewhat serious rider, what you say is may be true. A lot of people may be spending a lot of money on frames that they may not be able to tell apart from less expensive frames.

As a statistician, I hesitate to draw any conclusion that is based upon weak data.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:42 PM   #19
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I agree! One sample with no control or specific criteria does not a happy Bombadil make!
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Old 01-06-08, 09:44 PM   #20
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Listen to your body . . . it will let you know when the stress is just too much.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:45 PM   #21
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Have you been trying to come on a solution for 18 months?

The back thing must have helped you pull the trigger?
I started things in motion about 6 weeks ago. Had the concept on my drawing board as far back as 2 years ago, but the timing wasn't right then. And, frankly, I wasn't ready to pull the trigger. Remember, I said I've waited too long over and over again.

Tried to implement part of it, going to 95%, in August of '06, but my then-boss wouldn't approve. Wrong decision on their part, as that hurt my overall productivity.
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Old 01-07-08, 04:57 AM   #22
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Listen to your body . . . it will let you know when the stress is just too much.
Unfortunately my mind writes checks my body can't cover.

I find that we all put most of the stress on ourselves. Hope that don't offend anyone, but I had stress HARD several years ago. I went on medication whuich helped, didn't change jobs but changed environments. Great help. Now I gotta decide if I retire when i return to US. I'll be 62 and the thought of retirement scares me something terrible.

Odd a friend who used to work for me whom was same age as me. BTWhe was a type B. Wealthy, retired 2002. I read his obit last week.

Do what ever it takes Tom- you sound like you have a good plan, don't be afraid to change it if needed.
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