Tales from my 2024 mini retirement

Hiring in tech has slowed to a grinding halt, and I'm currently looking for work. But rather than stress out about securing my next gig and spending every day overconcerned with what's going to happen next, I'm taking this time away from paid engineering work to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

The concept of the mini retirement isn't new. It was a term popularized by Tim Ferriss, and refers to taking a set amount of time away from paid employment to reset, retool, and enjoy life.

For my entire career, I've always had one project or another on my plate. This has meant that, whatever I was set to do for the day, part of it was occupied by the day-to-day responsibilities of the project. I've always been a diligent saver and in some ways have hoped the day would come where I didn't have any paid work for a period of time. In fact, I remember at one point hoping for a recession in the tech industry.

At the beginning of this period of idle time, I felt a sense of dread. My income sources have dried up and I'm burning through my savings. But nothing in life is guaranteed, and what is our savings for if not for supporting us?

This realization has given me the courage to stop trying so hard to secure new work right now. Would I rather spend these months (or years?) constantly worrying about the future, or calmly enjoying these precious days, which, I will never recover?

I struggle with generalized anxiety and the state of my finances are no exception. But I realize I'm in a better position than most to weather this storm. I have no children, no mortgage, no car payment, no student loans. I have lived in my van and could do it again if I had to. I am creative by nature and constantly strive to learn new things. These facts all give me confidence that I can kick back and enjoy this period of idleness knowing I've set myself up for success.

So far, I've occupied myself with several personal projects:

  • Gigbot is my Git-inspired remote tech job aggregator for the command line. I've been using it to quickly peruse the most recent remote tech job listings across multiple job boards.

  • I've been working on an HTML-based printable booklet zine engine, using my original art and writing as content. The zine is called EPHEMERA and I'll be publishing it here soon.

  • I started a new Discord server called AI Took Our Jobs, as a place for tech workers to help support one another during the current downturn. Email me if you'd like an invite!

  • Taoverse prints a random verse from the Tao te Ching on the command line. I run the command in my .zshrc to print a verse every time I open a new terminal window.

  • I've been working on a new ebook about bohemianism and how to use its tenets to live a more storied, meaningful, creative, and adventurous life.

  • I've been decluttering by photographing and posting my unused stuff on Craigslist for sale, as well as digitizing personal notes, greeting cards, and documents I want to save but don't want to have to carry around with me.

  • I've been casually learning more about machine learning using TensorFlow from free books and tutorial videos online.

All in all, this period has proven to be productive and exciting. I'm learning a ton and I recognize how lucky I am to have the resources to pursue my own projects during this time. What will happen next? None of us can be sure. And that's why it's important to take it easy, man.