As someone with a prolific career and as an unretiree herself, Esther believes that unretirement is an exciting opportunity to seize! Unretirement is when people in or near retirement opt to continue working, but in a different way or capacity than the way they were working before.
We sat down with Esther to talk about her views on exploring a new type of retirement…
What does unretiring mean to you?
If you say unretiring, it means two things. Firstly, it means you’re not going to retire. But secondly, if you look at retiring meaning shy and retiring, unretiring means you’re not! It means you’re going to come out, you’re going to blow your own trumpet and you’re going to have a go.
Unretiring means to me refusing to be forced to sit on your sofa with your carpet slippers on doing not a lot. Unretiring means to me being very busy and productive.
Why might someone choose to unretire?
I think that unretiring can give people challenges, could be financially rewarding for you if you’re successful and lucky, and enable you to seize opportunities you didn’t have time for, or the chance to take up when you were younger.
What would you say to someone considering unretiring?
I think that if you have your health and your strength and your energy, it is a time when you can perhaps follow your dream and take the opportunities that you were never able to make the most of when you were younger.
I do think that if you don’t want to retire, don’t. Because you’re going to have a lot of fun, a lot of excitement, a lot of adventure. Go for it!
How important are identity and confidence for people in retirement?
For a lot of other people, retirement means loss. It becomes, for a lot of people, a loss of identity. It means losing the work that has stimulated you and challenged you losing the company of the people who you’ve either relied upon or enjoyed bossing around or had fun with. And suddenly you’ve got to rethink your whole life and it’s not always easy.
I do think for a lot of us if you are meaningfully productive, you have an identity, you know, who you are because you know what you do. And I think it’s really important as you get older to keep that self-esteem – there’s enough prejudice against age and getting older.
Don’t write yourself off. Don’t ever use that ridiculous phrase past your sell-by date. Don’t accept yourself as irrelevant.
Do you think that unretirees are an underutilised resource?
Absolutely! If as a nation, we regard older people as dead wood, a problem, unproductive and boring. Then as a nation, we are losing the opportunity of tapping into the talent, the skill and the life experience of generations of people.
So, I think retirement as a concept is a bit out of date. Everybody knows that life goes on longer than it used to. We have more time on this earth, so why not? Why not use it, why not spend it in some productive way and enjoy yourself at the same time?
Tell me a little about The Unretiring.
Anybody who comes to the end of their traditional working life and still feels they have a lot to give and would like to try something new, to stay productive but in a new field, I would say, well, have a look at The Unretiring. They just might help you find ideas, explore your own potential, have a bit of fun, learn a lot and come away with new skills that you can apply in a new way. You might make some money. You might make a difference. You might do both.
The terrific thing about The Unretiring is that it doesn’t underestimate older people. It doesn’t put them in a box, it doesn’t pat them on the head, and it doesn’t talk about them as a problem.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
I’ve got a motto, which is “if not now, when”. You know life isn’t forever, as the Queen said! So seize the moment, because at the end of the day, if you’ve got something to look back on, that gives you pleasure. And first thing in the morning, if you’ve got something to look forward to, it will make a difference to your life. And maybe life can begin at 60 or 70 or 80, or, as with my friend, nearly 90.
If you’re wondering about how you could look at what unretirement might look like for you or a family member, explore our website. The Unretiring Programme is designed to help people explore the opportunity of unretirement and design a meaningful future.