The question I hate the most

Eleftherios P. Diamandis considers when to retire in Nature:

DownloadAbout 30 years ago, I emigrated to Canada to pursue my scientific training. For the past 25 years, my laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto has sought biomarkers for use in the early detection of cancer. I love my job as both clinician and scientist. I am now 63 and people throw all kinds of questions at me owing to my diverse experience — and my white hair. But the one I hate the most is: “When are you going to retire?” I hate it because it reminds me that I am in transition. The first time I was asked it, I was 58. The question was unexpected yet it stirred something in my head. And so, I resolved to record whenever people asked me it. At the age of 59, I was asked twice; at 60, four times; at 61, eight times; at 62, sixteen times; and at 63, thirty-two times. By extrapolation, I expect that next year the question will pop up 64 times and by 67, I will be facing it twice a day.

…So what might be the optimal choice? Staying in the lab. Throughout my career, I was blessed to forge relationships with diagnostic companies and to obtain patents for some of my lab's discoveries. Because research grants are becoming more difficult to obtain, I created an account that accumulates the resulting royalties and commercial donations. The fund should be large enough to support a couple of graduate students or postdocs, as well as my research manager, for up to ten years without further funding. This represents about 10% of my current lab staff, which I could handle easily as a mentor and adviser. I would be free to pop into my office at any time, to read Nature and Science, and to write manuscripts or articles like this. I could visit my grandchildren and then return them to their parents.

Nowadays, I consider retirement to be a continuous process that occurs in small increments, over a long period. This slow transition is allowing me to answer my most hated question, as follows: I am retiring at the pace of one minute per day.
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