The Last Stroll

I feel like I should almost be walking around my office with a sign on my back that says “The End is Near,” so I can stop talking around the issue of how much longer I plan on working.  While I don’t plan to formally commit to a given date I am thinking of something in the range of late 2017 to spring 2018 which of course even talking about to people gets them a bit nervous.  It’s like they suddenly all realize that when I talked about taking an early retirement for the last decade I was actually serious about doing it.

I don’t provide an exact date because it depends on several variables like how much renovation work we do before I quit on the house or do we do that afterwards, how the stock and bond market does in the next few years and what other opportunities come up in the mean time.  So for now I’m keeping things vague and plan to give more formal notice when I get closer.

What has been interesting as I start to close in on my last two years or so of my engineering career if that fact I’m actually already starting to shift gears in my head to my post full time day job life.  I’ve signed up for a online writing class and I’m working on a series of novels right now.  Then I have to get back to editing the novel I finished last year and wondering when I should start putting out the submission letters to publishers. I’m also thinking about when I should start up a new writing blog and when I should finally shut down this one.  I do want to provide some post-retirement updates to those that are wondering how it all turns out but at the same time I can’t see keeping this blog going indefinitely.  Then I’m also working on plans on how exactly to pull the money out which accounts and when.  Then also deciding what exactly I’m going to tell people at parties when they ask what I do for a living: do you go with ‘private wealth management’ or ‘writer’?

Yet oddly enough the one pain point I realized during this last stroll was: I will no longer be an engineer at some point.  I will likely cease membership in my professional association after a few years post work and no longer even bother wearing that iron ring and the thought of this actually scared me.  Why? Because that title as been a particular part of my identity for twenty years now.  I’m so used to thinking of myself as an engineer and introducing myself this way that breaking that habit will be particularly painful for me to do.  After all saying it was an excellent short hand for how to describe me to others, so I could say “I’m an engineer” which would translate to: smart guy, good with numbers, geeky, and may have issues with social situations.

On the other hand, dropping that title from my identity will provide an opportunity to define myself without the usual baggage.  This of course is rather good since I in fact do well in most social situations and aren’t so geeky that I can’t talk to regular people.  In fact, one of my highlights to employers has been you get the geeky engineer who can actually explain stuff to the non-technical crowd.  So when I free from that title I can be just who I am rather than my old stereotype.

In the end, I can to really ask myself: who do you want to be?  I don’t need to conform to a stereotype so I’m free to just be myself with all the complexity that implies.  It’s a bit of an exciting time to have that opportunity to reinvent yourself, but of course also a bit confusing to reshape an identity that has been core to my life for 20 years.

6 thoughts on “The Last Stroll”

  1. Congratulations!

    As long as you are happy and able to do what you want without sacrificing your health, sanity or anything to do with enjoying your life, I say that I’m slightly jealous then.

    I will not be able to retire that early with the traveling I want to do, the things I want to buy.. *shrug* 🙂 I know it and I don’t mind because I’m happy about my choices.

  2. Interesting – I find myself feeling similar – just substitute “software developer” for engineer and add 6 months.

    I have many side interests and I plan to pursue them all to see which takes hold of me. I look forward to being able to do this without financial pressure. If it generates income, that’s great, otherwise no big deal.

    Do the last couple years seem to drag for you? Sure seems that way to me at times.

    Not sure if this was mentioned in a previous post, but do you intend on selling/downsizing your home when you retire? I’m interested to hear more.

  3. So you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Hope it was not that bad!
    At any rate a friend of mine had been to see a financial advisor prior to retirement and was told that if he was going to work more than three months in the year he might as well work the whole year. The reasons being that you will have worked enough to pay most of the required taxes to the governemnt and the last few months are worth more to you than the first few (think CPP & EI). At least that was what he was advised at that time. Differnet strokes for different folks.
    Retiring at 45 (if that is right) means you can not apply for early CPP and OAS only kicks in at 65, at least according to latest revision, subject to change with the next government.
    Depending on how big your RRSP is would help determine drawing down the non-registered accounts or tapping the RRSP right off the bat to draw them down so as not to have a big taxable salary when you do pull CPP and OAS. Again, diffent strokes for different strokes.

    Approaching retirement is a big mental step from an “ordered” working life to an un-ordered free to do what you feel like lifestyle. A lot depends on where your head is at.


  4. In ten years, you will still be a “smart guy, good with numbers, geeky, and may have issues with social situations,” correct? That means you’ll still be an engineer–just not employed as one. I’ll be sticking to the same self-describing summary when I’m out in two-and-a-half years.
    A good friend of mine plays golf four times a week and pays for the privilege of doing so at a local club. Danny Willet also plays golf several times a week, though he’s been paid a few million for doing so. And you know what? They are both golfers. And the “you” of today and the “you” of you in twenty years? You’re both engineers.

  5. Hi Tim: I’m trying to get a hold of you to profile you for a Toronto business newspaper. I sent you a note on Twitter. Could you email me at the email in this comment? I’m out for the next couple of hours but am reachable later tonight. Thanks.

  6. Lots of people wear the iron ring without practicing engineering. I had been a practicing lawyer for eight years (meaning 11 years out of engineering school) before even getting one.

    As a lawyer working with lots of engineers on a day-to-day basis, wearing it simply saves time as it means most engineers will assume, most of the time, that I am not an idiot. For some reason many engineers have a superiority complex when it comes to lawyers so it helps cut to the chase.

    I have no problem referring to myself as an “ex-engineer”. I didn’t suffer through differential equations (and missed out on the opportunity to meet blue-haired Birkenstocked girls in poetry class as a result) to voluntarily forego my bragging rights.

    “From my cold, dead hands!”

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