What is reverse retirement? And how to do it? We look at doing things backwards at PumpjackPiddlewick

I’ve realised in life, I’ve done it backwards. I’m not working towards retirement. Rather I have reversed retirement. Okay it’s not truly a ‘thing’. But maybe it should be in this day and age?

Let Me Try to Explain

At a young age, even before I started working,was the realisation that you had to be ‘old’ to retire. And by old, this meant to my 17 year old self anyone older than 25. But what it really was seen as was not as active, not having as much energy. I watched my parents and grandparents, and those who had retired, and realised that they said they ached more. That when you reach 50 things start to hurt. And that they didn’t seem to want to do as much as they had before.

Well if this held true for most of us, my feeling was to make the most of that energy whilst I was younger. So I decided to reverse my retirement age. I would ‘retire’ in my 20s and progress towards work, culminating in my 60s and 70s. Maybe even longer. With fingers crossed on the health front.

Epiphany Moment

When I was 13, I had an epiphany moment that has stuck with me ever since. I think most young teenagers go through the reality that death exists moment. For me, it was certainly a fascination, and a fear. And from this the realisation came that tomorrow you could be hit by that proverbial bus, so live your life to the fullest now.

Put in other words, live life so you don’t regret if someone tells you you will die tomorrow. And I have done so ever since. Tackling that bucket list, or simply what appeals, and doing. And living without regrets is truly freeing and engenders happiness. This does not mean there aren’t highs and lows, sadness as well as happiness. Simply that it’s regret free. (Although there is that one dress I wished I’d purchased back in the 80s that still haunts me…)

What is Retirement

Like the concept of reverse retirement, I think I am writing this in reverse too. Maybe I should have actually started with ‘what is retirement’? Retirement is defined as withdrawing from your position or job. Some definitions go as far as to say ‘because you are old‘. This can be permanent, part-time or semi-retired, and really can be done at any time, depending on your situation.

Essentially we tie retirement to money. So to my mind, retirement is really about whether you have enough money to live off without working. Looked at this way, one could retire for awhile, return to work, retire again. Infinitum (hopefully). We just sort of assume, better yet expect to do this after our years of working. That is, we earned it.

Reverse Retirement

But, if I think back to my epiphany, the thought that I could take time to do other things than work, and then work later in life really appealed to me. Do those things I wanted to do whilst my energy and fortitude were at their peak. Tick off those bucket list items that required that boldness and confidence that youth inspires.

This is not to say it was an unfearful decision. It flies in the face of peer pressure, advertisements about pensions, and taking a chance on my long term health. All of which one is consistently aware of throughout the ensuing years. But one can plan for these things, even with a reversed working history.

How To

So how did I do it? In my earlier years I knew I wanted to travel. That I wanted to see the world. That was top of my bucket list. So I worked hard, sometimes multiple jobs, for a period of time and then travelled. My mantra was to work for a certain period of time, then travel for twice that time. Six months of work equalled one year of discovery. I visited places, learned from cultures and over time honed what I liked, what I would put up with, and what to discard.

It gave me the confidence to try my hand at a variety of jobs, in a variety of places. To figure out what I enjoyed, what made me happy. And from this, started learning what I liked, so I could ultimately focus my work to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

If I Knew Then

When I think back to my approaching university self, I had no idea what I wanted to do career wise. Some are lucky and know what they want to be. Most just take the education and end up in a job that has nothing to do with what they studied.

The wisdom or years have given me much better insight into what I like to do work-wise. And what I am really good at. So now that I am working, more or less full time although through choice seasonally, I am working in a field and jobs (yes plural) I adore. It never would have occurred to my younger self that I would end up as a shop owner, blog writer and wine tour guide. But, voila! And I am loving life, including and especially working later in it. Dare I say, it is keeping me young?

Feint of Heart

Of course this reverse lifestyle is not for the feint hearted. It leaves you potentially vulnerable in your later years monetarily as you have not built up a steady pension with all the moving around. So this does have to be considered earlier in life than maybe some young people would think on it.

However it can be tackled a few different ways. Invest when working. Taking some of those earnings and buying into some form of long term investment, property, stocks. etc. A little long term planning can truly help out in the long run, and give some peace of mind.

But additionally, I have found that this choice of life gives you courage to realise that you can live on very little. That things are just that, things. That very real realisation that you can’t, or don’t need to, take things with you. Also, having a life so very varied, at least for me, has given me the belief that there is a solution for everything. So even if I find myself destitute, I already have a plan. Actually two. Sometimes a backup is a good thing. And there is comfort in planning ahead, even if it is in reverse.

And now?

Reverse retirement is not for everyone, that is for sure. But I would like to offer it out there as an alternative. To say to those other 13 year olds having an epiphany, life can be what you wish to make of it. It is certainly easier to follow the norm. But you are ultimately in charge of you.

Since most of you reading this will already be nearing your own retirement years (so my statistics say) your route is already planned. But, if nothing else, maybe you are emboldened to try something a little different, even now. Whether you believe in heaven or not, reincarnation or not, you only enjoy this life once, so I hope you will make the most of it. Whatever that may be. And in whatever order.

More Musings

You can read more of musings here on Finding a Simple Life.

And if you enjoy what you read, check out and join in on my Nourishing Pumpjack & Piddlewick page.

And because part of my retirement is being funded by My Shops : Pumpjack & Piddlewick and my personal passion French Silk Scarf, as well as some of my own designs, I hope you will browse (and buy). Here’s a taste:

Simply click on an image to see more


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