I’m not young and I can afford to stop working. I’m wondering if I should.

Reasons to retire ·

  1. Some mornings, I feel like sleeping in.

  2. And then, when I get up, I’d like to spend two or three hours on Feedly and The Economist, just reading what’s going on in the world.

  3. I’d like to spend more summer time at my cabin.

  4. When I’m engaged in work I bring a whole lot of intensity; not significantly less than a few decades ago, I think. But at the end of the day, man, I’m so tired. Some days I can hardly scare up evening conversation with the family.

  5. Progressive friends, people whose opinions I respect, give me shit about working for Amazon. I claim that the problem is capitalism, flaccid labor laws, and lame antitrust enforcement, not any particular company; maybe I’m right.

  6. I want to write a truly great Twitter client for Android Auto, to keep me informed as I cruise down the road.

  7. I want to start working full-time on AR now so that I’ll have something cool running when the hardware becomes plausible. I have a couple of fabulous app ideas; nothing that would make any money, but I’m OK with that.

Reasons to keep working ·

  1. I get to write software that filters and routes a million messages a second.

  2. I’m in a position where it’s really hard for people not to listen to my opinions about technology. I’d become amazingly uninteresting about fifteen seconds after retiring.

  3. I like computers, and so it makes sense to work for (what I assume must be) the world’s largest provider of computers to people and businesses who use them.

  4. I get a chance to move the needle, a little, on the way people use computers.

  5. The people at work are interesting and nice; basically none of them get on my nerves.

  6. I learn things all the time about how to think about how to use computers.

  7. The Vancouver tech scene needs an anchor tenant and it’s cool to be helping build one.

  8. The money’s good.

When my Dad retired, he really hadn’t made any plans for what he was going to do with his time, so he didn’t do much, and that was bad; he went downhill really fast. I don’t have plans enough just yet to hit that Eject button.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Gavin B. (Oct 25 2018, at 22:55)

Tim Berners-Lee took a sabbatical to work on something that really interests him Solid - maybe Amazon might let you do that too.


From: Takashi (Oct 25 2018, at 23:24)

Personally, I don't want you to retire, as well as people who have worked with you....


From: Rich Sands (Oct 26 2018, at 04:37)

Here is another reason to consider: if you have things you want to do with people you love that do not involve work, you have no guarantees that you or they will live long enough and be healthy enough to do them, when you decide to hang it up.

If your wife or kids or whomever you are living your life with suddenly die, or you or they become disabled through disease or accident, would you look back on these years when you're young, healthy, and secure enough to enjoy life to the fullest with those you love, and say "Gosh, I sure am glad I spent those extra years working!"

My wife is 14 years older than me - I know our time together will feel very short, when it is over. I retired when I could, much younger than the usual age. I do not regret it.


From: Andy (Oct 26 2018, at 05:27)

If one of the main reasons in favour of retiring is that you feel tired after a full day, why not reduce your day?

See if Amazon would let you work 5h a day instead of 8h, or would give you more holidays in return for a lower pay cheque.


From: nwildner (Oct 26 2018, at 06:10)

My dad retired last year(Brazilian Army), and he found a great joy doing woodwork, general house repair, taking care of the vegetable garden and enjoying waking up a little late. :)

I can see in her eyes that he had not stopped working. He is just doing things that are now focused on what he want to do.


From: Mikael (Oct 26 2018, at 07:08)

Retired or not, don't stop blogging!


From: Andrew H. (Oct 26 2018, at 07:13)

I’ve found that a great way to deal with big decisions like this is not to make them. :)

Instead, maybe look for in-between options, like negotiating (accepting less pay) for a smaller workload or fewer days per week or fewer hours per day. It’s unusual, but not impossible.

Then you get to be “a little retired” and see how you like it — and learn how to do it.


From: PeterL (Oct 26 2018, at 08:06)

Crunch the numbers and do it! (Some financial sites have Monte Carlo simulations to help you; although I'm a bit sceptical of their methodology and data.)

Since retiring, I've lost 15kg, probably due to less stress (and my last employer - Google - was one of the best). And I haven't had any problem finding things to do (e.g., catching up on reading, joining a bicycling club, doing some travelling).


From: len (Oct 26 2018, at 09:15)

I enjoy retirement because I always had a goal to return to music. I am too old to chase fans, contracts, Big Time, etc., but I can write better than ever and do like poring over YouTube stats. YouTube took away the money and keeps removing features so wah wah but free server space is free server space. Only being a musician again as I was long long ago has been wonderful. I wish I didn't have the medical issues that are steadily worsening, but that's the luck of the gene pool lottery. So, no regrets.

That said, if you don't have a passion and a plan, keep your day job. Neuroscience is fairly clear about the brain when you turn down the gain. You are a much more social critter than I am. You need the feed.

You could use some of that fortune opening a small room, maybe a coffee house, whatever, and put that busking musician to work plus others. Get a staff of teen-agers. You might really enjoy it, you still get to program, and maybe pay back some of what was lost to musicians when the web took away the money. Help them navigate the streaming services, show them how to setup their web sites, get in the game.

Have fun. Whatever else, have fun.


From: PeterL (Oct 26 2018, at 10:04)

I tried reducing my hours as "partial retirement" and also tried a "staycation". Neither helped me get a feeling for retirement. There's something different about being 100% irrevocably removed from work. YMMV, of course.


From: Michael (Oct 26 2018, at 10:24)

You should definitely have a plan for something to do, even if it's just volunteering one or two days a week.

My parents and mother in law have been keeping busy in retirement and are doing well. My father in law was forced into retirement in 2008 and never found something to replace work. It's depressing to see how quickly he has mentally gone downhill.


From: diligentdave (Oct 26 2018, at 11:44)

I am semi-retired. But I still have to earn a bit more money than what comes in from my 'retirement'.

Having much more money would make retirement much better, much sweeter. Don't know if I will ever be able to "totally retire" because of that.

The best part of my 'semi-retirement' is the luxury it affords me to pursue looking things up that interest me, and going more towards the 'end' of those interests—so that I more fully understand things my curiosity drives me to know.

It also has allowed me, thereby, to ponder things deeper. So many issues that both individuals have, as do nations, are taken too much for granted. We assume too much. Most of our major problems now would not be there, if we better understood the cause of them, and then took the appropriate action, or made the appropriate behavioral response, IMHO.


From: Gordon Haff (Oct 26 2018, at 13:19)

I've started to have somewhat similar thoughts of late as I've gone through various organizational changes. They turned out to be neutral to positive but they did get me thinking semi-seriously about what I would do if I ended up in a situation not really to my liking.

That said, I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing, at least some of which I'd probably keep on doing even if I weren't being paid for it. More and longer vacations would always be nice but I really can't complain about how I've been able to dovetail various activities with work travel over the past few years.

There's also the social aspect. I work remotely most of the time but I can always go into the office and there are also all the events I attend.


From: serge (Oct 26 2018, at 14:15)

I tried to retire in Feb 2017. And since then, I have been working 7 days a week helping people. And I do most of this work at home, and I have a bit of time for my own projects. So all the reasons for retiring that you mentioned are valid, and most of the reasons for staying at AMZ are not valid. The one big reason in favour of staying at work seems to be the team that you are working with. This is hard to get and may be worth preserving for a few more years, but I wonder if it is real. I have almost never seen a great IT team (you may be extra nice here because they read your blog). I worked in IT since 1973 and almost all teams were awful, really awful; IT people can be so bad. Now, since I officially retired, the teams are much better. Smaller and better and less competitive. I am sure that you have great projects and I think that you would have much fun doing them, and they would be much more valuable to the world than the work that you are doing now. Some months ago, a friend of mine got brain cancer, and it could happen to anyone. You don't know how much time you have to do your fun projects. Hope this helps.


From: Peter Phillips (Oct 26 2018, at 14:24)

"I’m not young and I can afford to stop working."

That's really all you need to decide that, yes, you should retire. To echo Rich Sands, you have energy and your health right now and that won't last forever.

You have a lot of hobbies, a lot of interests and know a lot of people. Get those plans in place and retire ASAP.

If, for some reason, you don't like it, don't worry. The computing industry isn't going to solve all the interesting problems while you're away for 5 to 10 years. (Ha: if they do, the shock would surely kill us all :)


From: Doug K (Oct 26 2018, at 15:58)

I'm not young, and I'll never be able to afford to retire, despite saving 20% of income for the last 30 years. So I must confess to some envy here ;-)

As long as the job is interesting, rewarding for you personally, and doesn't consume the rest of your life, I'd be inclined to keep on. But your point 4 in reasons to, suggests that it is consuming the rest of your life..

Perhaps it is possible in Canada to negotiate a part-time status. In the US it's not usually possible, since the cost to the company of benefits for anyone working over 20 hours per week, is staggering. Those positions are always the first ones eliminated, so tend to be insecure and short term.

My wife tried to do this when we had kids, and hasn't been able to find IT employment since then.


From: Rob (Oct 26 2018, at 19:28)

Well, its the creepingness/frog-in-a-pot-of-water part of the evil, how do you know when enough is enough? "cap­i­tal­is­m, flac­cid la­bor laws, and lame an­titrust en­force­men­t" is one thing, but marketing "Rekognition" facial recognition systems to the cops, ICE, & the TSA, putting AWS on the other side of the fence from the ALCU, might be another. (If the Chinese can optimize for Uighers and Tibetans, I'm sure AWS can optimize for Latinos Arabs and Africans...)

That seems qualitatively different from exploiting seniors in dark satanic mills ahem "fulfillment centres." And it is not the warehouse industry standard level exploitation done by Amazon, it is specifically high tech AWS doing it. And one has to wonder what the next thing after that will be.

But of course, if AWS doesn't do it, someone else will, amiright? Maybe the Chinese. Maybe we are at the software industry's Oppenheimer moment, and now you too have known sin.

But I'm a fine one to be talking. Yesterday I enjoyed a most excellent lunch courtesy of a big pharma sales team, and paid for it by listening to a kinda frightening sales pitch for very powerful, very very expensive, invasively administered psychiatric meds. Which are often legally compulsory for patients.

(BTW, I loved this fatuous piece of fluff: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/some-quick-thoughts-on-the-public-discussion-regarding-facial-recognition-and-amazon-rekognition-this-past-week/ Has this man never read a history book?)


From: Jarek (Oct 27 2018, at 16:47)

I'm thinking of one thing I haven't seen raised by others so far. About finding something to do: Yes, it's very important. I feel that there are currently a large number of Big Issues at all levels: local, regional, provincial, national, and international which are largely not commercial in nature and which need helpers. If you agree, you might be able to think of some. And frankly, for many of the issues, as a rich white man you might be able to lend quite a lot more legitimacy.

That in such cases you might have more luck than in a Bigtechco to declare that you're only able to contribute 20 hours per week is only a bonus.


From: Aleks Totic (Oct 28 2018, at 06:29)

I am 10 years behind you, and have been following you since Textuality.

I am amazed at your continuing level of enthusiasm for tech. Mine oscillates, I feel annoyed with much of technology that I encounter. The enthusiasm for all tech has been replaced by weariness.

If you are still that excited, that does not feel like retirement. Maybe a different role, a different company, where reading Feedly for 3 hours in the morning fits in.

I took 10 years easy after my kids were born (retirement preview). To keep myself sane, I tried to find low-intensity work. I did not care about income, but I needed intellectual exercise. I'd pick a problem I care about (election reform, elderly care), and search AngelList for startups in that space, and offer my help. They often took me up on it. It was never as fun as working at Google/Netscape/etc, I'd get into "you're doing tech wrong" fights a lot.

I think it is really hard to find low-intensity work that is also interesting. Looking forward to reading about your future adventures.

I also wonder about how long will I last in the industry. Hopefully, when I am truly sick of it, grandkids! And then I can become master cook/babysitter in my old age.

"Pro­gres­sive friend­s give me shit about work­ing for Ama­zon": of course they do, tech has real power now, and each one of our warts is examined closely. And no one is perfect...


From: Brian B (Oct 29 2018, at 01:22)

let outside = time you want to spend on things you want to do outside of work

let work = time you want to spend on things at work

If (outside > work) {


} else {



Above all, have a purpose when you stop work and go outside.

I've also been told that even though some people have more money than others on this planet, the great equalizer is time. That is, unless you have the fountain of youth: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

Regardless of your decision, definitely write the Android auto Twitter client and make it open source!

Good luck.


From: Letu Yang (Oct 30 2018, at 11:49)

Don't go Tim. If you retired from AWS, that would be another Breixt to me!


From: anon (Oct 31 2018, at 15:45)

What Rich Sands said.

My wife had breast cancer, survived it twice before it went metastatic, died recently 16 years after the first diagnosis. After recovery from the first episode, she asked me to retire, just shy of 60.

We had some great times in those years. I'm so very glad I did that, spending full time with her, instead of going off to work every day. We had warning and a lengthy reprieve. Not everyone does.

Life is shorter than you think.


From: Meisenheimer (Nov 08 2018, at 13:42)

Full Time Willie would have had trouble with your anti-spam question.

I will be eligible for the CPP in a few months and people keep asking me when I'm going to retire. They look puzzled when I say something like "Why would I do that?"

I don't work in tech and there's a lot less money at play in the equation for me than for some. It mostly comes down to the fact that my work is the most interesting thing that I do, that I care about its outcomes for the people I work with and for and I don't feel like I'm done doing the stuff I want to get done.

I get the tired thing, especially when we hit a rough patch, but that's just life as a geezer, retired or not. For me the main complication is the fact that our working lives mean that my wife and I spend too much time apart. If I retire, I imagine that will be the reason. I also suspect that with her retirement projects and mine we will still spend a lot of time doing our own things until neither of us can get around anymore and we spend our days reminiscing about things that may or may not actually be memories.

Not sure if there's any advice buried in there anywhere, so I'm tempted to weigh in on cap­i­tal­is­m, flac­cid la­bour laws, and lame an­titrust en­force­men­t...

Nah. Maybe another day.


From: Andrew S (Nov 20 2018, at 00:23)

If you do leave AWS, please consider spending "retirement" helping to make the APIs of SmugMug/Flickr the best photo APIs in the world!


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