Retiring from the day job: Contented no more


It’s official. I’ve retired from my day job. While my friends barely blink at the news, the change in my life is massive.

Fact: on 31 March 2016 I ‘retired’ as Director and half-owner of a wonderful little online business, Contented Enterprises Limited.

Retirement is not headline news

Most of my friends raise a puzzled eyebrow when I tell them this momentous fact. They only just stop themselves from asking gormless questions like ‘Whaaa?’

For the last 20 years they’ve regarded my interest in digital communication as a slightly silly Rachel-ish aberration, a diversion from my true calling as a literary lady. As for that business with the awesome name and address (, which has been my primary occupation and source of income for 10 years, all eyes glazed over if I raised the subject.

I presume my friends are pleased that I’ve finally dropped my incomprehensible obsession with something mysteriously technical. They no longer have to smother their yawns.

And you know, I think this lack of interest is the norm. Don’t knock it: I believe it’s quite healthy and reasonable. After all, do you know what all your friends actually do at work, day by day? Do you understand their business? If not, maybe that’s a good thing: friends have more to offer than shop-talk.

Let’s be proud of our day-work

This is a good place to say it, and I hope you can say it too: I’m proud of my achievements in the day job. Let’s all take a moment to celebrate the work we eventually walk away from. Who cares if it has appeared boring to outsiders — we know better.

Mine has been useful to the world — apparently I wrote the first book ever about writing for the web: Web Word Wizardry, 1999 (first ed.). And I have also been useful to those I trained, whether as a live teacher from 1998 to 2015, or as an online course designer for Contented from 2006–2016.

Creative? Every day job is a field for creativity, including yours. For example, computer programming, often perceived as the most neurotically logical of disciplines, is teeming with creative people. As for me, I created 22 online courses on  how to make online content clear, readable, accessible, searchable, social — oops, I’ve lost you already! Never mind, it doesn’t matter any more. It’s over.

Every retiree deserves a party

Please raise your glass or a nice cup of tea to the work you do or used to do, your contribution to the world in the guise of a day job!

Please drink to your own achievements, visible or invisible. You know what they are: I salute you.

And now what? I’ll work off a little coffee-hangover and think about that tomorrow.


Image: from Viola Olerich, the famous baby scholar, 1900. Internet archive book images, no known copyright restrictions. (Sometimes I feel that young.)



28 thoughts on “Retiring from the day job: Contented no more

  1. Well done. We are old family friends so its lovely seeing how the young ones are doing all sorts of exciting and interesting things. Please pass on our love and best wishes… and for you congratulations on taking the plunge ( mmm not sure if thats the right metaphor!) or maybe drying yourself off after taking the plunge and contemplating what to do with the next phase of your already fecund and wonderful life.!

    1. Two degrees of separation is the NZ norm! Thanks Kevin. Good things ahead for us all.

  2. Welcome to the club! People said, What will you do with yourself? I haven’t had a problem!

  3. Bernadette says:

    Looking forward to seeing where the next bend in the road takes you.

    1. Plenty of fun projects are at my fingertips. Now, to commit…

  4. Congratulations on a job well done. As a retired geek I know exactly what you mean, it is often frustrating when you can’t explain your passions to others. I hope your next challenge is just as rewarding as your last. Hip hip hooray!

    1. Thank you — I’m glad to find a kindred spirit! The same communication problem does not apply to writers: people kind of know what we do, and are involved with the products, so it’s easy to say, ‘I’m a writer.’

      1. Yes that is so true. I’ve only just started dipping my toes into creative writing it is so different. The blogging makes it much more rewarding than technical writing ever was.

  5. Congrats!

  6. I sat up and took notice when you wrote that you published the first book about writing for the web! That had to be a ‘break through’ book! In 1999, I was just getting my feet wet using the web, as many were. So I’m impressed. I have no doubt that you will use your creative and innovative powers to do something equally amazing in the future!

    1. An accident of timing. In 1995 I thought, I must get a book about writing for the web. There were none, so I had to write it. But I didn’t mean to skite: I was just taking a moment to look back. What opportunities are under our noses right now, I wonder…

  7. Rachel, sometimes it seems that all of the good ideas are taken. But I know, deep down, that’s a terrible way to think! Just need to stretch my creative muscles a bit more!

    1. Relax and the good ideas will sneak up on you.

  8. Great post. I took early retirement last year and am having a wonderful time writing novels!

    1. Clearly this was an excellent plan. I bet you inspired many others too. As for me this was more of a late retirement at 76… Now for my next trick …

  9. chattykerry says:

    I am terribly impressed by your career. I thought I was clever when I did a beginner’s course in Dreamweaver back in the day. Having not worked for years, it is amazing how you fill your time with strange things like re-learning Spanish and French so as to volunteer more effectively. Sometimes I think I new very little…

    1. You were clever and you still are! Early web technology for users was far more difficult. Compare using Dreamweaver with using Facebook and be proud. And you are still working and learning: that looks like a triumphant life to me. We are all so different, and i believe we are all role models. Have a great day.

      1. chattykerry says:

        I am laughing at the idea of comparing Dreamweaver with Facebook! 🙂

  10. Robyn Haynes says:

    You’ll wonder as I did how you ever had time for a day job. My children encouraged me to work on but I have decided now is the time for all those things I said I’d do ‘one day’. One day is finally come. Is that a good or a bad thing?

    1. A good thing! One day can be any day we choose. My careers seem to last about a decade so One day has arrived five times already. Fine by me!

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        Rachel, I think then yours might be ‘some days’ rather than ‘one’. How curious the infinite incarnations we have, including the ‘work’ ones. You are an inspiration

  11. I’m thinking about those infinite incarnations now. But maybe I have only one incarnation, as someone who can hardly bear not to have some large, interesting, demanding, original (daft) project on the go! And I might as well accept that, don’t you think? I love how we are all so different.

  12. Aunt Beulah says:

    I appreciate your words of appreciation and support for day jobs. I proudly tell people I was an educator in a variety of roles and that I enjoyed and was challenged by each, that I ended up in the perfect day job for me. So I found this post especially meaningful. Thank you.

    1. My privilege — and it is indeed a privilege to be an educator. Thank you.

  13. Joared says:

    Looks interesting here with all you have going on including retiring, heading toward my new decade. I, too, enjoyed some different careers, but not seeking another now — just dabbling in what catches my interests along the way of the rest of my life.

    1. This sounds delightful. Glad you are enjoying the bonus years.

  14. Tammi Kale says:

    Wonderful posts! You have already been an inspiration to me!! Can’t wait to read more!

    1. Thank you Tammi!

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