- Written by Patti and Milledge Hart Patti and Milledge Hart
Retirement is commonly known as the end of your career and the beginning of a new life of leisure. But is there another way to move into this new phase of life? A way to remain relevant as an individual, to expand your knowledge, and to continue to have an impact on the world?
Of course. Start your own business. Turning a hobby or a skill into a legitimate enterprise is a path that many choose.
According to the Stanford University Center for Longevity, in less than a century, average life expectancy in the developed world has increased by nearly 30 years, with those years adding to the time we traditionally thought of as retirement.
What does this mean? It means that you could spend as many years being your own boss as you did working for others. It means that retirement planning, which has normally been focused on making sure that you don’t exhaust your financial resources, can be replaced by planning to thrive as a business owner and providing your products and services to others.
What a perfect way to utilize all of your newfound extra time.
And you might be surprised to know that the statistics are in your favor. According to the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship, those over 50 are starting more businesses than any other cohort. And those over 50 are twice as likely to be successful as those under 25.
There are numerous reasons you might choose to launch a new business venture during your post-career stage, from earning income to staying engaged to continuing to make a contribution. You have developed many skills, established a financial foundation, and built a valuable network of people and tools. Now is the time to put them to work for you.
While these businesses come in all shapes and sizes, as we survey the landscape of possibilities, we find that there are obvious common threads that bind this group of “elder” business owners together.
Many of these new ventures are created based on one of your life’s passions. If you have always loved animals, this can lead to becoming a pet groomer, dog walker, or pet sitter. If you are devoted to education, perhaps you might choose to become a tutor or begin a business that assists with college admissions or teaches English as a second language.
Those who are particularly skilled at cooking and baking often find themselves becoming personal chefs or starting a bakery or an online sweetshop. An affinity for travel may cause you to become an online travel agent, which can have the added benefit of discounted travel perks.
Turning your personal priorities into your new trade can be a rewarding endeavor — both financially and spiritually.
Alternatively, we find that many choose to use the skills and activities that allowed them to have successful careers.
If you are financially minded, you might consider a tax-planning advisory firm, or, if your career was one concentrated in human resources, you might offer your services as a life coach or a resume writer. Advising others on navigating the Medicare system or the refinancing of a home can leverage experience that has been garnered over your lifetime.
Lengthening your career by advising others based on your knowledge can ease the transition from your fully employed life to this more fluid stage.
Still others gravitate to a skill they did not apply during their career to create meaningful work. If you have always been a talented artist, you might consider creating art to sell at the local farmers market or art fair or even to be commissioned for someone’s home.
Are you a talented musician? Maybe it is time to share your music with others by forming a band to play at special events or teaching piano to those in your neighborhood.
Do you have a green thumb? If so, maybe a landscaping or gardening business is in your future. Allowing those hidden talents to come forward in your business will add new dimensions to your life.
Whether you are engaging a passion, leveraging past successes, or applying your raw talent to a new business, we find that two important strategies are consistent: build the business in a way that provides for an improved work/life balance, and choose a vocation that allows for short-term returns.
At this stage we don’t have decades to build a large, sustainable company, nor do we choose to dedicate ourselves fully to our new “business.”
Retirees tell us over and over again, “I want to work in a way that allows me to enjoy my life without the burden of a fixed schedule.” In other words, “I want to exercise choice — to work when I choose, where I choose, and with whom I choose.”
What could possibly be better for our hearts and souls than to monetize the things we love or do well while also finding time to “smell the roses”?
Reaching retirement age once meant leaving the workforce to relax, recline, and recede, but today’s population finds themselves at the precipice of retirement and are healthy, energized, and interested in life’s many dimensions.
Retirement is no longer a story of old age. It is a story of long life. It is the dawning of the Anti-Retirement Movement.
Patti and Milledge Hart, co-authors of The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement Movement (antiretirement.com), spent more than 30 years as executive leaders in numerous technology and investment-banking businesses. Today, in what they call the “Resolutionist” — rather than retirement — phase of their lives, they are applying their resources and skills to global philanthropic and corporate activities.