05 July 2015

I don’t think early retirement is for me

I heard a scientist talking about wanting to retire at 55, and it’s been bothering me ever since.

First, I’m kind of amazed that anyone in academia would have the financial savvy to have enough cash to retire early. I sure wouldn't feel financially secure retiring early.

Second, it got to me because couldn’t quite wrap my head around the lost research opportunities. As I mentioned a while ago, I’m scheduled to be promoted to full professor this fall. And that has been bringing me some anxiety. Full professor means you’re no longer early career, or mid-career – even given academia’s generous definitions of those terms, which mean you can be “early career” in your 40s. Cue jokes about graybeards and deadwood.

I’ve got a paper coming out that has been sitting on my hard drive for a while. It’s a reminder to me of how hard it can be to get stuff completed, and that I’ve got a lot of questions I want to know the answers to. And it’s not likely that other labs are going to pick up those questions. Which means if I don’t answer them before the clock goes ding on my career, I’ll never know the answers.

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