I’ve retired, and here’s why

Back in late January, just a couple days before my 51st birthday, I worked what I hope will be my last ever day and began my retirement. I’m tremendously grateful and incredibly privileged to be able to do this so early in my life (or even at all), but I also feel that it had become a necessary thing to do for my overall health, both physical and mental. Still, I’m incredibly lucky to even have this as an option. There are some complicated factors that brought me to the decision to do this now instead of continuing to work for the sake of working or to build up even more of a nest egg, so I wanted to write it all down. I wanted to do this both for myself and for the people that said they wanted to understand better as I was saying my goodbyes at my last employer, GitHub.

The main reason is that, over the past few years, I’ve become completely burned out. Between the constant and slowly escalating racism, fascism, and jingoism of the Trump administration and his conspiracy-minded fanatics, the Microsoft acquisition of GitHub with the requisite dramatic internal culture shift, and the years-long pandemic, it all ground me down to the point where every day was a struggle to be motivated to do anything beyond simply show up. I could get some simple tasks done, but anything that required any kind of dedication or task management was pretty much impossible for me to complete. Even now, it’s been about five-and-a-half months since I stopped working and my day-to-day activities are figuring out what I want to eat and whether I’m going to watch some movie or TV show, or play a video game. The simple fact that it’s taken me almost half a year to get this uncomplicated blog post written is quite telling.

Secondly, but no less important, is that as I’m getting older some health challenges that have been minor nuisances most of my life are becoming more and more debilitating. A combination of being overweight along with catastrophically bad knees, due both to being ill-formed from birth and later injury from sports and activities, has led to me being disabled and having serious issues taking care of myself completely independently. And I’m trapped in a Catch-22 of being unable to get my weight under control without being able to care for myself in a very specific and maintainable way … but I can’t do that without getting surgery for my knees … except doctors won’t perform the surgery for my knees without me getting my weight under control.

What I’ve needed is more time. Time to focus on myself. Time to formulate a plan. Time to reorganize my living arrangements so that I can take care of myself. And time to take care of myself better so that I can get my weight under control and, hopefully, materially improve my living conditions and thereby my life. And time was the one thing that I simply didn’t have any of with virtually all of my most productive hours and all of my vitality being drained and consumed by the capitalist machine.

So, I worked with a financial planner. I talked with my family and closest friends. I evaluated my options. When I had done all that, I quit my job.

At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever return to traditional work again even if I manage to reach my ideal health and well-being goals. I know that I can’t stand just doing nothing. So eventually when I get past the burnout, when I get my environment designed to accomodate my new normal, when I get my health challenges managed, then I’ll decide how I want to contribute to the world again.

I’m already looking forward to it.


Copyright © 2010-2022 by Lee Dohm