It's actually productive to do so.
This story originally published on Medium in early 2016. With football season upon us I thought it relevant to resurrect it.
I am 39 years old and I’m thinking about announcing my retirement.
I am not in a financial situation to make it without a regularly occurring revenue stream. I have not won the lottery, collected a large inheritance, or gone gold digging.
I also have no health issues, family emergencies, or dramatic occupational changes. Actually, things are going quite well.
I’m also not bored with work, nor do I feel totally satisfied with my accomplishments to date or think I have nothing else to contribute. I actually have recently earned an equity position with my company within the past two years.
So I’m considering announcing my retirement… just not effective immediately. But not traditionally, either.
So I am saying that I will "retire" from my current career at age 50. I will continue to work, but it will be in a different field.
Strangely enough, the case of Peyton Manning and professional athletics led me his line of though. Everyone knew that SuperBowl 50 was to be Peyton’s last game. While everyone agrees that he is certainly past his prime, having your final game be an opportunity to perform in your career’s highest championship is pretty much the epitome of “going out on top”. Win or lose, it was a great way to end a career.
Professional sports is littered with numerous great players who play too long. Joe Nameth, Mickey Mantle, Kobe Bryant, A-Rod, etc. Occasionally players may hang it up too soon — Like Barry Sanders or Bobby Jones. Then there are those rare instances where one could argue a player retires “too soon,” but also does so on top of their sport — Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Ray Lewis, and probably Bobby Jones falls into this category, too.
I encountered a story on national public radio about this earlier this year: http://www.npr.org/2016/02/05//for-pro-athletes-knowing-when-its-time-to-call-it-quits.
It opened with Peyton but also detailed the journey of Lorena Ochoa who retired from the LPGA at the age of 29 while ranked #1 in the world and two recent major titles. What really struck me was that Ms. Ochoa had quietly set age 29 to be her exit from professional golf sometime before, and she claimed that this fact actually HELPED her perform better.
I can see how that works. When you see a “light at the end of the tunnel” it gives you the ability to better focus your energies into the task at hand. It’s like being given a definite and finite amount of time to live, which actually allows some people to get WAY more out of life than they otherwise would have. When there's not much "tomorrow" left, you tend to do less procrastinating and more, well, doing.
I love the work my job allows me to do. It is a perfect combination of creativity, development, quality of life, and innovation. I think that allowing accomplishments to slide because I think I have “plenty of time” does a disservice to those people and organizations that would benefit from the good that would come as a result of focusing and completing them.
So today I am officially announcing retirement from my current career at age 50. That gives me 11 years and some change. I think it’s going to be an amazing next decade.