The dictionary defines “retirement” as a state of “being withdrawn from the rest of the world or from a former busy life…”
Even if you could afford to do that, who’d want to?
After decades of working hard, paying taxes, raising kids, and setting aside what you wanted to do for what you had to do, this phase of life is a chance to be more engaged than ever, in the world, in life, and in the pursuit of happiness, to think big and to act boldly.
I propose, therefore, unretirement, a time for broadening your perspective and your universe as your interests and imagination suggest.
Unretirement is about participating in your world and your community in new and broader ways than your previous life allowed, meaning infinite opportunity for learning, for growing, for contributing, for reinventing, and for finding purpose.
The benefits of unretirement are big.
- Taking control of your life, your time, and your future…
- Doing what you want when you want where you want…
- Not being vulnerable to forces you can’t control…
- Being flexible and having fun…
- Living an adventure…
- Becoming more resourceful, more self-assured, and quicker on your feet… a better you…
- Embracing a purpose…
Boiling this down and thinking practically, unretirement is about controlling your budget, controlling your income, and controlling your time.
You could unretire at any age and regardless of your current circumstances, financial or otherwise, and you could do it wherever you’re living at the time you decide to flip the switch to this new stage of your life.
I propose, though, that unretirement is best pursued across borders. Moving to a new country can make retirement in any form, including unretiring, possible when it otherwise might not be.
An affordable cost of living, whatever that means for you, is only the first requirement for a successful unretirement. Even if you can afford to retire in the place where you currently are, you’ll have to work hard to be unretired there. Moving to a new country, you’d have to work hard not to be unretired.
The unretired life is about going out into the world to see what there is to see, to learn what you’ve time and interest to learn, making friends, establishing connections, and identifying ways to become part of and to contribute to your community while, if you want or need to, generating cash flow that helps to fund your unretired lifestyle while also giving you a reason to get up and go out into the world each day.
Unretirement is about not cutting back, not backing off, and not slowing down, and, again, it leads to two big upsides—control and purpose.
I would argue that unretirement is nothing like conventional retirement. On the other hand, unretirement equals retiring overseas.
Because retiring overseas means taking control. It demands flexibility. It results in adventure. It necessitates resourcefulness and self-reliance. And it makes it much easier to find a reason to get out of bed each morning.
Here’s a secret about moving to a new country: You become instantly more interesting. Your new neighbors and friends, both the locals and your fellow expats, will find you fascinating if only because you’ll be different and new. You’ll be exotic, maybe even mysterious. Your ideas, experiences, anecdotes, and desires will be thought-provoking and stimulating rather than same old, same old, as they probably seemed back home.
Your skills, whatever they are, will be in demand and more valuable. Whatever you do, you could find yourself the best at it in your new situation.
Your circle of friends will be new, more eclectic, more diverse. Just as you’ll be new to everyone in your unretired overseas life, so, too, will everyone you meet be new to you.
You’ll be immediately refreshed… and, at the same time, you’ll be becoming legitimately more interesting because you’ll be learning new things all the time.
You’ll be stretching yourself every way every day. Six months after you’ve made your move, even you might not recognize the new-and-improved you’ll have become.
I can promise you one thing about unretirement. It’s never dull.
Here’s my advice as we continue to navigate the current global pause the world is experiencing…
Forget about retirement. It’s yesterday’s challenge.
Instead, make a plan for unretirement.
One more exciting upside of unretirement is that you can unretire now… and figure out how to make the money follow. Unretirement allows you to control your income in retirement, rather than living at the mercy of whatever nest egg you’ve managed to accumulate to this point.
Leverage your experience, training, education, and skills to generate cash flow (if you need it) while giving back, embracing living, and finding purpose.
Unretirement beats retirement’s derriere.
This article was first published in 2019 and has been recently updated.