Last weekend, 31 October 2021 marked the fourth anniversary of my “retirement.” I put that in quotes because while it is the fourth anniversary since I retired from full-time work, I technically am still working part time. Except for the first two months after I retired when I did pretty much whatever I wanted to do, I have remained active in my field—Analytical Chemistry & Stability in the pharmaceutical industry.
Over the four years, I have continued with the two professional-level courses I teach in the pharmaceutical industry, one of which I have been teaching for almost 25 years. In addition to enjoying the continuing professional interactions, this teaching affords me the opportunity for much travel, at least that is until last year when all courses became virtual.
Also, after I had been retired for just a little over a year, I began to do some consulting work and for the past two years have had an ongoing consulting position with the company for which I teach.
So, as I approached my 65th birthday this year—screamed out daily by the flood of paper and e-mail I received about signing up for Medicare—I realized this is when I would have been retiring—once I had reached my full retirement age of 65 as defined by my employer. But instead, I took early retirement when the site where I worked was closed after our division was bought out by another pharmaceutical company.
Looking back, I have no regrets about retiring 3.5 years early. It has absolutely been a blast as I have written on the past three anniversaries of my retirement. And I think, I would have merrily continued following this path until something happened in April.
As we were preparing to present our course—for the 111th time, though just virtually—the colleague whom I have been teaching with all these years indicated to me he was ready to retire himself. He and I (and sometimes with our families) have literally seen the world in all the different locations where we have been able to teach. He and I have made a great team with this course and have had a lot of fun along the way.
Hearing that he planned to retire from consulting and teaching, several questions came to mind. Would I try to take on the whole course myself? Would I try to find someone else to co-teach? Or would I give up teaching the course all together?
All of a sudden, I started to think, wow what would it be like if I were to really retire also? Would I even continue to consult? I pondered these questions over the remaining spring and then started to take some actions.
First, after rarely finding that I ever got anything useful out of them, I decided I was tired of getting all the professional journals I received, both hardcopy and digital, and so began to unsubscribe from all of them.
Second, I declined to teach the course virtually in the fall, one of the times we had historically taught the course in San Francisco. I suggested we hold off until 2022 when we could hopefully teach in person. My colleague agreed to teach our course one last time in 2022 in person delaying the decision about what to do about the course.
And third, I decided not to renew my annual membership in the professional organization I had been a member of for over 25 years since I rarely even read the e-mail messages, I received from them.
And even the hours I spent consulting were cut back significantly from what I had been working, mainly due to some organizational changes with the company for which I consult.
Suddenly, it seemed I had much more time on my hands. I took on the most time-consuming model—a boat model—that I had ever built. I managed to get to take numerous trips, many of which I have already written about and others you will be able to read about next year.
This newfound freedom made me think, what if I gave up consulting all together? Would I have enough to do? Would I get bored?
So far, boredom or a lack of something to do has never happened to me as I wrote in my retirement anniversary post last year that I had had no time to be bored. But the thought of not working at all does sound intriguing. I suspect I will explore this possibility further in 2022 so stay tuned for an update next year on the fifth anniversary of my “retirement.” Perhaps it won’t be in quotations next year.