Is ‘Retirement’ a Dirty Word?

Posted on: December 17th, 2018 by Pat Mesiti No Comments

When my friend’s father was a middle-aged man he gleefully waited for the years to tick past and for his 65th birthday to come around so he could retire and go on the old aged pension. For his generation it was the ultimate pay-off after years of hard work, but these days no one wants to be described as a ‘retiree’. It has become almost the equivalent of saying ‘I’m old’.

Instead people dream of leaving their day jobs and starting a boutique business – of buying a coffee farm in the Byron Bay hinterland, marketing jumpers online made of alpaca wool, or selling organic beeswax wraps at Sunday markets. No one wants to ‘retire’ and be seen as inactive. This is like getting ‘old’. Instead people want to reinvent themselves. People want to stay forever young.

‘Retiring’ means dropping out of the busy, exciting world. To retire in your sixties is a sign of premature aging. My friends instead want to go on into their second or even third career. They dream of becoming their own boss and creating a business online or buying a franchise, like a dog washing business. They could not think of anything worse than being asked what they did at a party and having to reply, ‘I’m retired’. They believe that being self-employed is a much sexier answer! They aspire to be online business consultants or marketing executives.

Many people are afraid of retiring

People think that when they leave their job they will lose their identity. They think that their friends will stop valuing them once they lose their prestigious job. Unfortunately this has proven to be the case for some people. When they left their jobs as doctors and lawyers, the phone stopped ringing and the social invitations stopped coming. Consequently, people who leave full-time jobs want to be referred to as anything but ‘retired’ because it carries no status. It is as if ‘retirement’ has become a dirty word. Instead people who leave their old jobs want to be known as consultants, independent contractors, business owners, full-time volunteers, portfolio managers, pro bono employees or franchise owners. Anything please but retired!

Maybe Australians are rejecting retirement because we are all living longer. The average age of death in Australia is 82, while the retirement age is 64 years old. No one wants to sit around at home watching ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ for 20 years.

A recent American report found that 69 per cent of people aged between 45 to 74 years of age were actively looking for work. For many people it’s not even about the money. It is about the prestige, sense of identity, sense of purpose and social connection. People run businesses from home because they need a challenge and still want to achieve. They get involved in charities at a managerial level. They advise on boards, write newsletters for charities and organise events.

Is retirement now unacceptable?

Once, retirement was an acceptable stage of life, but times have changed. It is harder to make ends meet on the pension. Also the Australian economy is struggling to pay for pensions of the disabled, unemployed and retired. Many people aspire to still pay their own way after leaving their full-time jobs, and I think that is a great thing.

Are you retired? Have you thought about what you might like to do in your retirement?

Here is a list of ideas:

1. Work overseas

Why not investigate the possibility of working overseas in either a volunteer or paid capacity? There are so many jobs for Australian volunteers you wouldn’t believe it. There are jobs in marketing, project management, financial training, the media, even textiles. Check out this website:

2. Start your own business

Now that you are no longer working nine to five, you could and should start the business you always wanted to have. You could use your professional experience and begin a consultancy or run a part-time business in your area of expertise or you may want to try something totally new.

3. Look for part-time work

Perhaps you’d like to have a workplace you can drop into occasionally. Maybe you still want to mix with people in an office or you want a bit of extra cash. Whatever the reason consider going back to work on a part-time basis either in your old profession or something new.

4. What about doing some teaching?

If you were a tradesman or woman for years, you could look at teaching your trade at a technical college. Don’t let all your hard-earned wisdom and professional experience go to waste. Maybe you could look at offering a free short course at your local library or community centre.

5. Babysitting

If you had a career in teaching or childcare or just love children, you could look at doing some babysitting around the neighbourhood. Lots of young couples live far away from their families and are looking for ‘proxy’ grandparents for their children. You and your partner could even look at setting up an online babysitting site.

6. Become a mentor

Young people in your old workplace may have been very sorry to see you leave. Keep in touch with the youngest members of the team you got along with. Ask if they would like to catch up periodically to talk shop and get some advice from an old hand. Many young people would love the chance to learn from the experienced and successful. Take time out of your week to change the life of someone else.

7. Expand your education to expand your work options

I suggested starting a babysitting business. If I was serious about this, I’d first complete a childhood studies course. But there are many options out there for you. You might want to get into web-design or APP building. You might want to go into hospitality or even old-age care. Nursing homes are crying out for more staff. As an older person you have an insight into the needs of the elderly and also a great deal of compassion. There are so many careers out there you can consider training for.

8. Write a book and sell it on Amazon

Writing a book takes time but now you have plenty of it. Write a novel, a cookbook, a how-to guide or even your memoirs. Write an inspirational book, a book on what to do with your retirement. Get creative and choose any subject you like.

9. Start a blog and establish your expertise

Okay, so you’ve always been a snazzy dresser and now you want to be a fashion consultant. Establish your expertise with a blog. You could also offer to write editorials on fashion for the local newspaper, then set up your fashion consultancy and market it on social media. Blogging could be the start of an exciting new career.

If you are approaching ‘retirement’ age do not fear, because there is life and work after work. Start thinking about your options and start planning!


Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


Leave Your Message