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Quiet Retiring: The Retire in Place Early Retirement Strategy

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I sometimes find some of the new personal finance and career trends to be amusing. Most times it’s a new clever repackaging of what has always been around. Lately my amusement is about how some people are using quiet quitting to make a statement about their dissatisfaction with their careers. Why does it amuse me? Because it’s nothing new. Here’s another flavor that has always been there. A slightly more aggressive form I’ll now call quiet retiring. It may be a possible new trendy path to slowly ending your career if quiet quitting isn’t enough. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have you saved for retirement but can’t quite get there with stunted market performance and inflation? 
  • Are you at the end of your go-getter rope, hating the soulless job stress that’s slowly killing you?
  • Need a way out of the stressful grind or crappy unbalanced work life and still collect your paycheck and benefits in a corporate world that favors newly attained employees? 

If you answer yes then you might want to consider just retiring in place using a quiet retiring slacker retirement strategy. Use your talents and skills to get most of what you really want: Less stress, reduced obligation, and the happiness that comes with taking control of your life.

Quiet Retiring: The Retire in Place Early Retirement Strategy
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8 Steps To Pull Off The Quiet Retiring Slacker Early Retirement

We’ve all seen and suffered from the “retired in place” at some point in our workplace. At least that’s what we used to call them in my first career. The long-time employees who seemed to escape all the BS and stressful hard work assignments. Those slackers love their jobs and found a way to stay employed. Best of all it’s successfully done by people of all ages. They just may be onto something!

If you’re tired of being a go-getting keister buster and wisely saving for early retirement but can’t get there soon enough, then transforming yourself from Go-Getter to No-Getter may be the answer. 

This plan is all around refocusing your talents away from climbing the ladder to relaxed coasting. Something that has to be done covertly and carefully because management isn’t going to just allow you to do it. If they hate quiet quitters, they will really dislike you doing this. 

In a nutshell, the quiet retiring focus is about creating a work environment where stress can be sloughed-off or passed-on. Where eventually management only assigns you the easiest of tasks and allows you to skate by, being virtually unaccountable. All while still collecting your paycheck and benefits like health insurance until you have enough saved to ditch the rat race on your terms. 

Who knows, it may also provide a big send-off severance check if you eventually get tossed during a downturn. If sticking it to the man floats your boat, then there’s plenty of that too.

Step 1- Identify and Then Mirror the Retired in Place 

Change the way you think about those retired in place that you’ve disdained. As a stressed out go-getter I used to just shake my head wondering how in the hell do they get away with it. It’s time to flip that thinking. Instead of thinking they are unmotivated banana slugs, admire how brilliantly tuned-in they are to management’s mental blind spots. Those who successfully retire in place figure out the perfect balance of doing as little as necessary while setting a low bar for expectations. Yet they’re able to stay employed for as long as they want. Show up and leave on time with nothing but stress free fluff in the middle. Yep, that’s the ticket! 

Management just wants things done. They always find it far easier to force the motivated ladder climbing go-getters to do things because a slacker can’t be 100% relied upon to come through in time. They can’t even identify a motivating carrot to dangle in front of them.

The slackers where you work have found the exact low effort success recipe for your company’s culture and management. Learn from them through observation. Research, admire, and study their work, actions, attitude, demeanor, and imaginative but effective excuses. Then create your own quiet retiring strategy. 

If there are no quiet anything slackers to be found, then you might want to cancel this plan. Maybe you can become their first ever to attempt this in your organization but it’s more likely that your employer’s management has figured it out. You’ll most likely fail, sooner than later.

Step 2- Be the Biggest Cheerleader 

It all starts here. Can you hold your nose to be a cheerleader and enthusiastically cheer every decision and accomplishment within your organization whether it’s total BS or not? If you can’t then your quiet retiring plan may fail. It’s the one thing that management really likes about employees. It’s a slacker perception smokescreen and it somehow always magically protects them. It works so well that any teammate who complains about a cheerleading slacker is looked at as more unfavorable by management than the slacker is. Slackers may not be considered a reliable go-getter, but by God the good slackers sure are perceived as the most engaged, happy, and positive employees on the team. 

Always smile and openly compliment the others who will ultimately be picking up your slack. Be the one who suggests a potluck accomplishment lunch or group success celebration. Create visibly awkward moments by calling out for team hugs, high fives, and fist bumps. Take all the teammate eyerolls that you will be getting as a sign that you are on the right track. You are noticed and remembered for enthusiastically being there for the team.

Step 3- Being in the Right Spot 

Look at the size of your organization. There has to be enough people to hide within and to carry the load of doing all of the hard stuff and BS that you won’t be doing anymore. If you are on a small team or there are already too many quiet quitters or retired in place, then consider transferring to another team or department. 

An internal company move will allow you to begin your quiet retiring by coasting under the guise of “new person ramp-up” in training. I have seen successful slackers stretch that time-line out for years while successfully deploying the other slacker retired in place tactics. 

Step 4- Easy Does It, You New No-Getter

Don’t make the mistake of going too fast into your quiet retiring. If you’ve been the stressed out go-getter for many years then you can’t just immediately retire in place. Slide into it slowly. You must gradually cause lower expectations. Drop the ball and get a few, I’m worried about your lower performance discussions before going full bore. Just use the “I’ve got personal issues I’m working through” excuse.

Start by just letting slide all of the crap you absolutely hate doing. But do still hold a high level of competence and performance for things you actually enjoy doing or that are super important to management as far as performance objectives or team metrics. There’s still opportunity to score some easy performance bonuses and raises during the early stages of your descent into quiet retiring. Then slowly start to let other things slip here and there until you can move into full retired in place operandi. 

Gradually trim back everything that causes work stress but do the things that you can still be happy doing. While you’re most likely trashing any career accomplishment legacy you might have, it’s important to have a reason other than money and benefits for keeping up the charade and showing up. 

Step 5- Don’t Volunteer to Lead But Enthusiastically Join 

There’s always going to be a proposed important project or activity in a staff or team meeting. You know, the ones that have stressful short timeframe or will be extremely difficult. Never volunteer. Sit back and let a ladder climbing  go-getter do that. But once it looks as if it will be a team effort, jump in as a tag-along. It doesn’t matter that you have no intention of working hard. What matters and will be remembered is that you enthusiastically offered to help and was part of the team. Team success will also land on you no matter how big of a slacker you were. 

If you are unfortunately assigned the lead by management then make sure it becomes a team effort. If it isn’t obviously going that direction, start by saying “this sounds great. I have a lot on my plate but I think I can make room”. Then start complimenting a team go-getter so they get dragged into your team. While working on the project make sure to throw in a lot of “WE” talk with the other assigned team members. Reminding everyone this is a “WE” situation will make the go-getter(s) overcompensate for what will be your quiet retiring performance. 

There is one exception to this step or rule. Do volunteer to lead any celebration type activity to be a compliment to your cheerleading efforts and then milk the crap out of it to avoid other stressful or hard work assignments. 

Step 6- Exaggerate Your Work’s Importance and the Effort It Takes

Even as a retired in place slacker you will have work that you will be doing. It’s important to inflate the work you choose to do. Your quiet retiring task is to spin your wheels for as long as possible. That way you appear too busy to be assigned anything more and especially anything hard. Always smile and talk about how difficult and important your work is. Remember that many managers have no idea what the actual work is or how it’s done anyway. 

Step 7- When All Else Fails, Buy Treats

It is highly recommended that you strategically shower a few inexpensive treats on your coworkers and team while you retire in place. Sometimes a slacker’s best strategies will wear thin or fall short. Buying team treats is an important part of any quiet retiring toolkit. Especially when you have successfully dropped the ball and your team has had to carry your load. Even when being late to a meeting, treats like doughnuts, cookies, or bagels are the perfect smokescreen tactic to deploy. Even cheap day-old or old halloween candy works. It’s a companion action to being the biggest cheerleader. 

Step 8- CYA: Document Everything

There are times when slackers will be targeted for reprisal or dismissal.  If your finances aren’t where you can otherwise retire, then you must CYA with documentation that can be used to secure a severance package or financial offer if things go south. 

Any miswording or action that could be considered even remotely offensive to anyone, whether you were offended or not, should be documented. Dates, places, the issue, the offender, the audience, witnesses, etc. 

Don’t play your hand unless you have to. At the first sign you may be in serious slacker employment trouble, drop the bomb. Say you have been working in fear and now need to bring atrocious behavior to the attention of company executives. Use your most inquisitive and sad look on your face and quietly ask, do you think I might need an attorney?

CYA documentation may not stop your termination but you may end up with a bigger severance package or offer to make both you and it all go away. It just could bridge your retirement savings gap.

If you have an impressive list of bad behavior there are always legal options. You may be a retired in place quiet retiring slacker but you’re also now a sympathetic or even maybe a pathetic victim in this rancid cultural stew that celebrates grievance. It just might pay off! Remember, you are the biggest cheerleader. You were always the lead for celebrations and you constantly brought treats to the team. 

In Closing

Quiet retiring means you still have to show up to your job. But think of it as being about fulfilling your social needs and getting paid at the same time. Look, retiring in place isn’t some clueless “work until you die” retirement plan. If you are killing yourself in a stressful job and can’t quite retire yet, the quiet retiring goal is to purposely and happily retire in place while you continue building your retirement nest egg. Why should the actual lazy morons and ruthless manipulating idiots only get to pull it off?

LAST BUT NOT LEAST- 

It is extremely important that you’re completely aware that this was written to be totally facetious. 

There’s been talk about the trend of people “quiet quitting” in today’s post pandemic workplace. Then an old first career coworker told me of his stress and frustration about having to carry retired in place do-nothings. I was amazed to hear that some of the same long-time slackers were still allowed to work there from my days dealing with them over 12 years ago. They always tell everyone how much they love their jobs and the company. For some it must be close to 20 years of slacking their way to a stressless retired in place happy career. They have a lifestyle they never need to ever retire from. 

As one unashamed retired in place slacker once told me, I haven’t had much of a salary increase in years, but my hourly work pay has quadrupled”. 

Personally I think doing any of these quiet retiring tactics takes much more effort than just pulling your own weight and doing your job to the fullest. Just set some rational boundaries, continue living below your means, and keep doing what you’ve done to become as successful as you are and can be. 

This is just a little Labor Day mental musing based on my past corporate career encounters that crosses with today’s career trends. I’m funnin on both managers and slackers alike. This Quiet Retiring Slacker Early Retirement Plan is of course tongue in cheek. Or is it?

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