Engineers never retire.

At least not most of them. And I’ve talked to a lot, probably 1,000 in the last 6 years. For those who I’ve discussed ambitions with, nearly all have a side project, or a dream to build a prototype when they get enough money in their savings, or a business to start when they are entirely financially independent.

An engineer never retires, they simply start working on their own projects.

That’s a quote that an engineer who was 79 days away from retiring from the company he had worked at for 30 years told me.

With that idea in mind, what then becomes the tipping point for deciding when to start working on your own? Is it purely financial? Is it skillset development? Is it when the work feels too monotonous to continue? It’s probably different for everyone, but one thing that I know is true, it’s later than anyone would like.

To me, the idea of never retiring is freeing. Thinking about how wrapped up I’ve got in the past, worried about “making an impact”, I can’t stop worrying about it. Its just a feeling. A feeling that the impact won’t happen fast enough, rather than inability.

For those who haven’t embraced never retiring, perhaps it’s time. It’s time to retire that attitude, and find what it is you want to achieve and start working on it, no matter how little. When it reaches the size you’re comfortable with, maybe a year, or a decade or more from now, then retirement, even if just from being an employee, is an option. Better to start early.

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