We remember what retirement used to look like. One day, you just stop working and start retiring – living off your company pension with a little help from Social Security. That’s what our parents did. Today, for the most part, all of that has changed.
To help us understand, we might want to look at what retirement really is. The Cambridge Dictionary defines retirement as “the point at which someone stops working”. If we accept that as the true definition of retirement, we can then understand the need for something new. The need for unretirement.
Unretirement is the move from working full-time to working . . . less. But it’s more than that. It’s working, but doing something we want to do. And getting paid for it. Most of all, unretirement is earning the opportunity to live on our own terms.
Best of all? It’s exactly what the labor market wants from us.
Right now, ten thousand people reach retirement age every day according to a recent Pew Research study. The National Institute on Aging reports that, on average, only 33 percent of retirees continue working full-time. The result is a growing labor shortage that is creating a real need for our skills.
In most cases, businesses don’t want to hire more and more full-time employees. But they are looking for skilled workers who want to help out and take on some of the work. This is called the gig economy, and finance company Intuit predicts that, by 2020, 40 percent of U.S. workers will fall into this category. In fact, entire enterprises such as Lyft and Airbnb have risen out of gig employment.
That’s where unretirement comes in. It’s identifying that encore career and understanding the best way for it to fit into our retirement life. Wikipedia defines encore career as “work in the second half of life that combines continued income, greater personal meaning, and social impact.”
Unretirement is also focusing on our health and wellness so we can get the most out of the fun things we want to do in retirement. We may have to upgrade a skill or two along the way. But no successful unretirement comes without a cost.
It’s time for a fresh perspective about life after work. It’s time for unretirement.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while traveling in Maui, HI