Retirement: Looking back at the work

My career came to an end on Friday, May 31, 2024. That’s when my retirement became ‘official’.

I am feeling pretty good about no longer being a contributing member of society here in the first week of June. It feels very good to have no thoughts in my head about what needs to be done for work next week.

But I am also feeling a bit thoughtful about the past 40 years or so when I spent 40 to 80 hours a week (130 hours a couple of times) working. I’m turning that reflection into this summary post on my blog.

Working life timeline

I started working part-time as a teenager. My first ‘real’ job was when I was about fourteen years old. And I became a full time computer professional when I was twenty.

The following table lists my recollection of my work experiences, each with a brief comment. I’ve included a rather optimistic column for links to possible future posts to dive into more detail about each employment situation. No such details exist yet, but I’m retired now: maybe I’ll be motivated to write some!

YearEmployeerJobCommentDetailed post
1978 < a video store> (part time)RetailI sold pre-recorded and blank Beta and new-fangled VHS format tapes. I mainly took the job because they had a dusty Apple in their display cabinet. I was never allowed to use it. N/A
1979Northern Rig Lights (part time)Shop workerAssembling various lights and electrical sockets. Some light machining. N/A
1979 – 1980TJB Microsystems (part time)Retail- computersA computer shop selling Commodore products. I mostly sold Vic-20s and Commodore 64s.N/A
1980 – 1981Radio Shack (part time)RetailAn electronics hobby shop. I sold everything from batteries to TRS-80 computers.N/A
1981Westworld computers (part time)Retail- computersA computer store selling Apple and Exidy Sorcerer computers. Generally I was selling software and accessories.N/A
1983 – 1984Self-employed: Unicorn Data SystemsComputer consultingI set up a little company after dropping out of university. We wrote small applications, customized some commercial software, and installed a couple of early Ethernet LANsN/A
1984 – 1985Alpha ComputersComputer sales and consultingI sold computers, software, and accessories. I also performed paid services like installing software for clients.N/A
1985 – 1993Softwarehouse / US ConnectComputer sales and consultingI sold computers and software, developed PoS software, installed Novell Netware and other LAN OSes, and sold/installed Sun and Data General computer systems.N/A
1993 – 2024IBM CanadaIT Specialist / Architect Development LeadComputer consulting and support (Network OS); Software development, Solution architect, Development lead, DevOps engineerN/A

What was my career about

Pretty much all of the work I did when I was young and still working part time was to earn money for computers. I bought my first machine, an Apple ][ +, when I was 15. Then there was an IBM clone (Tandy 1200 HD), a multi-user Unix system (Altos 586), an Amiga… you get the idea.

I briefly attended university, enrolling in Honours Computing Science at the University of Alberta. I dropped out when I found the Honours level math was challenging to the point that I was either going to commit suicide (sorry, but the truth) or murder my professor.

I then started consulting/selling/developing on computers full time, and have never stopped since. I loved and still love working on a technical challenge and turning an idea or need into something functional. I enjoyed working with a small team on building new solutions out of basically nothing.

My career at IBM reached a peak about 24 years ago when I realized I didn’t want to travel weekly for work and didn’t want to create ‘paper’ solutions for bids and proposals. That relegated me to purely technical solutioning and delivery roles which, as I noted, I love. Such work, however, is generally a career dead end in IBM.

I knew the consequences of my choices on my career progress within IBM when I made them. IBM was and still is a great place to work, but it is a sales and revenue driven company: you need to be doing that kind of work to be getting promotions. I was okay with that, although IBM was not always happy with my lack of desire to ‘progress’ into work I don’t like.

I found a good account / program in IBM consulting that worked with my preferences during the last decade or so. I was allowed to create and refine technical solutions without being pushed into work that didn’t satisfy my personal needs. I was ready to continue working for a few more years beyond 2024.

Then my wife developed health concerns. Work became an obstacle to spending time with Irene. That led me to decide that retiring now was the wise thing to do.

What will I do in retirement

I am still thinking about what I want retirement to be about. I wrote some thoughts about possible retirement activities a few years back, but that feels like a century ago. Some of those things will still make sense, but others… maybe not.

Irene and I are going to take the rest of 2024 to explore what we want to do and what we can actually manage. The practical financial aspects will become a bit easier to understand after we’ve had a few months, and we’ll see how we both feel.

I’ll almost certainly post some of my thoughts here on this blog as things become clearer.

2 thoughts on “Retirement: Looking back at the work”

    1. I don’t think I ever had a paper route… maybe delivering flyers or something like that, but if so it didn’t last long enough to stick in my memory.

      And thanks, Shane! Sorry for the delay in your comment appearing: every time you use a different email, WordPress thinks you are someone different and I have to approve your comment before it appears. Once you get ‘approved’ your comments should appear immediately going forward… until you use a different email again ๐Ÿ˜‰

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