retirement career

Never Retire, Pre-tire

Never Retire, Pre-tire

Never retire – it’s all about pre-tiring

The old view of retirement where we have a clean break from full time work on a Friday to a life of leisure on a Monday is becoming rare. Not only is this clean break not good for our physical and mental health, it’s not great for our lifestyle. Most of us want to have more income for the life we want. We want to stay earning.

But it doesn’t have to be more of the same.

Now is a great time to consider what we really want our wider life to be – it doesn’t have to be a full-on job that leaves little room for hobbies and interests, we can sculpt the right future for us.

Pre-tirement fits in between full-time work and full on retirement. We can enter this phase from our 50s and stay there as long as we like.


Pre-tirement is a flexible term. It’s a time to (maybe) work less hours, but stay earning money. You may be fortunate and not ‘need’ the money to pay the mortgage or bills, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to spend this money – either for family or charitable donations, to travel more or for longer term security.

Whilst some will find the money essential, there are others who don’t need an income, they work for other things – mental fulfilment, companionship, they still have plenty to give back.

The benefit of moving into the pre-tirement phase is to give you greater balance. You can continue to work, if you want, but it also gives you more time to focus on your health or your family or to give something back through volunteering.

Whether you are planning ahead, or considering making choices right now, what will work best for you? It helps to think about your needs and wants. There may be a minimum level of income that you need (which doesn’t have to come from just one source) but there can also be your wants – flexibility to travel, time to volunteer, feeling alive enough for evening classes. Get clear on what you want and it helps with decision making.

Many of us want to stay working, but on our terms.

If you love your job, and it’s something you can continue to do then stay with it. There’s no set retirement age any more so you can stay with your employer, but perhaps move to a shorter working week and take on some mentoring. Or if you have a long and stressful commute could you could move to a similar job but closer to home. Or if you don’t love your job move to something you would love.

You could take a change of focus and do something you really want, that you don’t find stressful or too physically demanding. Something you can still do even if you have a dodgy hip or the start of arthritis in your hand.

We can continue to add value to companies. 60-70 is no longer seen as old and past it. Yes, there is age discrimination and some over 50s find it hard to get a job. But this can be due to outdated job search techniques. I’ve worked with many clients aged 50+, like Ade who gained more than one job offer following a changed approach with an updated modern CV and a different approach to finding jobs.

You may like to take on a freelancer’s life style and opt for short term assignments for different organisations. Or a part time job along with voluntary work and more free time. Continuing in full time work might be the right choice for now but a job you love, that meets your needs and values and perhaps is closer to home.

Time to consider your identity

So much of our identity is tied up with work and this could be the reason to stay working. Who are you without your job? This can be a good time to consider who you are and how you want to be seen by others – going beyond the work us to being a wise elder, a bit of a maverick, whatever you want.

Pre-tirement is more than work - learning, not earning
Alongside work, or instead of work this could be a chance to learn more. You can still have an active brain, outside of work. You could take on a significant role with a voluntary organisation. Or study for a degree or PhD. Short courses or free online courses might be right for now – they could be academic focused, learning new technology or learning a hobby.

Pre-tirement as Transition

We can choose how to transition. If you want to focus on voluntary work, that’s a great choice. You can still get fulfilment and a sense of purpose from volunteering, and there are plenty of things you can do beyond low skilled work. A lawyer can work for an advice centre, you can use your leadership skills within a charity, you can opt for VSO assignments. But you do need enough financial resources to make this happen.

Denise Taylor, Chief Inspiration Officer at wants to help make the rest of your life your best life, and can help with life planning, and all aspects of career and job search. She is also the author of Find Work at 50+