After way-too-many-years as a software developer (more or less), I decided to call it quits. As I look back on those years, the far and the near, I don't quite know what to think. I followed my bliss, but my bliss emigrated. My first job was the best, and they went downhill from there. Being unwilling to relocate probably hurt my career, but at the end, what does it matter? The final employer turned out to be the best in terms of salary and benefits (one of which is the opportunity to retire early) even though the work was the most stultifying. Somehow, through a combination of working hard enough, making good enough decisions, and having good enough luck, I managed to get where I am: healthy enough, wealthy enough, with hopefully enough time to enjoy it.
Retirement is one of those one-off things to look forward to, like menopause. You think it will never happen, and then suddenly, you are on the doorstep. The past few years, I wondered how I would know it was time to go. Then it happened - I went into my annual review, thinking everything was hunky dory, only to be told I was not working hard enough, my work was not good enough, I was a burden to my co-workers. The next year looked like one big slog, and I discovered not only did I not want to work harder, I did not want to work at all. I waited a while to make sure I was not doing something rash before making my final decision, but frankly, once I *seriously* considered retiring, there was no going back. For a while, I fumed about the circumstances behind my decision, but one day I realized just how lucky I am to have early retirement as an option. And I have been happy ever since.
Yesterday was my final day. I turned in my computer, gathered up what I had not yet taken home, and left my ID badge at the front desk. I thought I might get a little teary eyed, but that did not happen. There is some anxiety about who I will be going forward, but I'm still me (which in some ways is a disappointment). We'll see how the rest of my life unfolds. So far, so good.