Freelance After 50 Newsletter

F50 Issue #15: Quiet Returning - Make Your Comeback as a Freelancer!

Published 5 months ago • 5 min read

F50 Issue #15: February 6, 2023

Quiet Returning: How to Make a Quiet Comeback as a Freelancer

“I quit!”

Many of us were introduced to this phrase while watching The Flintstones cartoon at lunchtime. After rushing home from school, we watched spellbound while eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

On a small black and white or color TV, the scene opened with a dramatic burst of music and a view of Fred Flintstone working at the gravel pit.

Suddenly, he checks his watch and realizes it’s almost time to pick up his wife, Wilma. He climbs up to the office window and tells his boss, Mr. Slate, that he’d like to take the rest of the day off.

Mr. Slate bellows, “Back to work, Flintstone, or you’re fired!”

Fred replies, “Fired? I quit! Who needs your two-bit job?”

Now, that’s some noisy quitting, quite unlike the “Quiet Quitting” trend we hear about now.

What is Quiet Quitting?

According to an Investopedia article, “Quiet quitting refers to doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary.”

So, unlike the Fred Flintstone example, there’s no actual quitting involved. You keep doing your job and continue getting paid.

It’s more like George Costanza’s work ethic on Seinfeld. He starts napping under his desk so coworkers won’t see him slacking off. And as this napping becomes a regular pastime, he hires a carpenter to build a bed and a shelf for an alarm clock under his desk.

He’s still employed, but he’s doing as little as possible.

Quiet Returning and the Quiet Comeback

If you’re an avid Seinfeld fan, you may have also seen George do the opposite of Quiet Quitting — a kind of “Quiet Returning.” In another episode, George actually quits his job and regrets the decision. In a flash of inspiration, his friend, Jerry, suggests he simply return to work as if nothing has happened.

But that’s not the kind of Quiet Returning we’re talking about here. We’re talking about retirees eagerly returning to work they enjoy. In an article titled “Why Retirees are Flocking Back to the Workplace,” Chris Morris shares these interesting stats:

“The Indeed Hiring Lab in March 2022 reported that 3.2% of people who said they were retired a year earlier had returned to work, a notable increase from the 2.1% average in June 2020. That’s about 1.7 million people who have headed back.”

Jack Turner further expands on this trend, calling it a “Quiet Comeback” in his article, “What Is a Quiet Comeback? Quiet Quitting’s Successor.” The Quiet Comeback involves leaving a full-time position at a company and returning as a freelancer or contractor, often performing the same role as before.

He explains,

“It only makes sense that if you're going to strike it out as a freelancer, you'll be tempted to work for a company you already know, working with systems you're familiar with, and dealing with people you've already built up a good rapport with.
“It can be lucrative too. Many of those we spoke to who had done the quiet comeback said that they were able to negotiate much higher fees than they could when they were on the payroll.”

How to Prepare for Your Own Quiet Comeback

If this idea has piqued your interest, here are five questions to ask yourself before doing a Quiet Comeback:

1. Are you on good terms with your current or previous employer?

As the article above explains, many companies have a positive view of rehiring people. Ideally, you want your employer to have this kind of attitude:

“Dennis Shirshikov, Head of Growth at, said ‘As аn еmployеr, I hаve rehired fоrmer employees who chose tо еxplorе nеw opportunities, оnly tо return with а fresh рersрective аnd vаluаble skills. Тheir exрeriences еlsеwhеrе mаde thеm even morе vаluаble аssets tо our orgаnizаtion.'”

And also think about the work environment. Have you enjoyed working there, and do you have healthy relationships with your employer and colleagues? Will you be able to maintain those relationships while working remotely?

2. What parts of your job do (or did) you enjoy?

When you decide to become a freelancer, you have the freedom to switch your niche and focus on tasks you enjoy most.

So, spend some time thinking about your current or previous job and identify how you can narrow the scope and specialize in certain areas:

  • What tasks are you most knowledgeable about?
  • What tasks are most meaningful to you?
  • What aspects of your job make you want to jump out of bed in the morning?
  • What areas show potential for growth and further specialization?

3. What parts of your job do you dislike?

Although you can specialize and steer away from tasks you dislike, there may still be parts of your job you need to perform, even as a freelancer. The key is to figure out why you dislike them and how you can make things easier for yourself.

For example, do you dislike a task because it’s not something you like to do? Or do you dislike it because you find it confusing and need more training?

On a piece of paper or in an online note-taking app like Evernote or Google Docs, write a list of all the tasks involved in the job you’d like to return to. Divide them up into two columns:

  • Tasks you need more training for
  • Tasks you won’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

That way, you can narrow down your niche and identify areas you need to work on.

4. Can your tasks be done remotely, from home or another location?

If you’re used to working onsite at a company, working remotely may be an adjustment. But when your Quiet Comeback includes freedom of location, you can enjoy greater flexibility that improves your productivity and quality of life.

Open up that same note-taking app, or take out that piece of paper and read through your list of tasks. Ask yourself a few more questions:

  • Can you perform these tasks from home or any other location that has access to the internet?
  • Can you maintain enough communication with your employer or client to complete the tasks independently?
  • Would additional tools or apps help you do more tasks remotely?

5. Are you ready to become a freelancer?

If you’ve decided to become a freelancer and do your own Quiet Comeback, determine what’s needed to set yourself up for success:

  • Are you missing any skills or tools required for your freelance business?
  • Are you clear on what business systems and processes you need?
  • Are you ready to market your services to your previous employer?

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, never fear! We’re excited for you, and we’re here for you. We’ll help you navigate any unfamiliar waters so your Quiet Comeback is a resounding success!

Insider Resources

If you’d like to learn more, check out a book titled Ikigai - The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. It’s a valuable resource to help you think about how to find a purpose for your own Quiet Returning or Quiet Comeback.

According to the Penguin Random House website,

“Having a strong sense of ikigai—where what you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs all overlap—means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire (in fact there’s no word in Japanese that means retire in the sense it does in English): They remain active and work at what they enjoy, because they’ve found a real purpose in life—the happiness of always being busy.”

For instance, if you regularly sit while doing your work, remember to frequently get up and move around. And make sure you don’t sit in the same position for an extended length of time.

Words to Live By

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

And in the words of motivational speaker Denis Waitley, here’s to a Quiet Comeback that makes you want to “Chase your passion, not your pension”!

Until next time,

Co-founders of Freelance University

431B 41st Avenue NE - Unit 94, Calgary, AB T2E 2N4
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Freelance After 50 Newsletter

Craig & Kelly Cannings, Co-founders of Freelance University

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