Glenn Gould famously announced in 1964 that he was retiring from live performances to focus on recorded and broadcast music-making - and kept his vow for the next 18 years until he died.
This ceasing of public appearances created considerable international criticism and debate; since Gould was one of the most famous and successful solo pianists of his (or any) era; and no-one of his stature had ever previously done anything like this. But Gould had his reasons.
I too have, at times, made vows about retiring from activities - and stuck by them, mostly - but I, of course, did not announce my resolutions, nor would anyone have been interested if I had!
Probably the first was back when I was an Anatomy lecturer at Glasgow University, doing research on the human adrenal gland and its nerve supply; when I resolved not to apply for any more research grants. And I never did.
My reason was that I had failed to get several grants in the previous year, yet wasted considerable time and energy (and morale) applying for them - until it became clear and undeniable that the adrenal was too 'unfashionable'. To get funding, I would need again to do 'neuroscience', as I had for my doctorate - when I had not failed at getting grants.
But I had some work I wanted to 'finish' on the adrenal; and did not want my research to be controlled by the grant-awarding authorities - so I made this resolution. I would do the addrenal research as best I could without external funding - using whatever resources I could muster.
Clearly, by never getting any research funding, I paid a price in terms of career progression. But it was the correct decision for me - since it enabled the subject matter of my scholarship, and therefore my 'life', to be 'free' for a further couple of decades; while nearly all my colleagues and contemporaries became, what seemed to me, self-deluded technicians and project managers.
Another retiral (to use the Scottish term) was from laboratory work specifically, and empirical science more generally. This was not a strict rule, nor was it done on moral grounds; it was simply based upon the recognition that because I was merely adequate at laboratory work (and not very interested by it), I could and should focus instead upon theory - which was both my aptitude, and the mode of work in which I was most spontaneously motivated.
I did not stick to this completely - because in the middle 2000s I got so interested in 'scientometrics' (the numerical measurement of scientific work) that I did, and published, some statistical analyses. Much of the heavy statistical work was done by a computer scientist colleague, but I did some of my own - such as looking at trends in Nobel prizes and other awards.
But my concentration on theory was regarded as making me 'research inactive' in the eyes of the UK academic bureaucrats (despite a prolific publication record) because only empirical publication (of 'new' data) was regarded as 'real' (and because grant income was what defined 'real' research). Also, the scientometrics (which had had a pretty high impact) 'did not count', because it was outwith the official boundaries of the psychology category.
So, this retirement also took its toll on my career.
After I was sacked from editing Medical Hypotheses - on the specific technical grounds of my refusal to introduce Peer Review (albeit with a real background in issues of political correctness); I vowed not to participate in peer review in any fashion from that point.
This meant that I did not publish any peer reviewed articles, and I stopped peer reviewing for journals, grant applications and the like.
Building on this, I soon realised that all forms of voting were immoral - including in the many and various meetings of institutional life; so in recent years I vowed not to attend formal meetings or to be otherwise involved in voting; or, indeed, in surveys.
This resolution was quite difficult to stick-to, and had potential to cause serious trouble, but in the event it did not prove catastrophic - although it certainly would have done, sooner or later.
Looking back across these retirements - it is easy enough to see that they were all related to personal autonomy; and the fact that I did not acknowledge the authority of others to control my scholarship and research.
There was a price to pay, in terms of diminished resources and status (and income) but it was a worthwhile price for so long as I could retain my traditional academic autonomy.
But nowadays that autonomy has become institutionally impossible, and has in practice disappeared - at least among younger generations (there are probably a very small and diminishing number of old, employed, still-autonomous academics - living on borrowed time...).
Science, and all other forms of research and academic scholarship are - in their strategic elements - now wholly externally controlled by linked managerial and bureaucratic structures - so the 'job' of an academic or scholar is now merely concerned with the detailed implementation of already-prescribed agendas.
Partial retirements no longer suffice to maintain autonomy: the future belongs to the amateur outside of the system and independent of all funding, salary, status, honours, terms and conditions.
To the amateur; or to nobody.