F50 Issue #16: Your Flexible, Fulfilling Future Awaits...

F50 Issue #16: February 20, 2023

Flextirement: How to Embrace a Flexible, Fulfilling Future

Business cards — those tiny pieces of cardstock that condense a lifetime of experience and skills into a few powerful words.

Many of us have (or have had) a Rolodex. As you spin it around, you see who you value as colleagues, and you see your own history. Like a movie reel, the cards rotate. And your career unfolds, evolving as your roles change.

Ron Petrescue has a collection of business cards, many from his decades-long career in the television industry. You may remember Ron from Issue #2 of this newsletter, where we interviewed him about pursuing freelance work as an actor after retirement.

Well, acting isn’t the only second-act career Ron’s enjoyed. One of his business cards calls him “Director, Special Projects.” Shortly after retiring from a fulfilling career as president of a company, Ron began working for another company owned by a colleague in the television industry.

His job was to use his previous management and technical skills to help launch a new service for TV viewers. The responsibilities were significant, but at the same time focused and specific.

“Sounds like a lot for someone who’s retired,” you might say. But not for Ron. He still had (and still has) a lot to offer, including hard-earned wisdom from many years of work.

Little did he know this job was foreshadowing a trend we now call “flextirement.”

What is Flextirement?

In a recent Further newsletter issue titled “The Path Forward for Generation X,” Brian Clark shares a Fast Company article, where Neil Costa talks about “the future of work” and the new term he’s coined.

Costa describes flextirement as a way to “semi-retire.” Basically, you could continue working in your current job or secure a different, part-time position. Like Ron Petrescue, you could concentrate on “key initiatives, a project basis, or a mentorship role.”

This concept has benefits for both employers and employees (especially if you choose to become a freelancer):

“… flextirees can continue to further the professional career they have spent years committed to, challenge their cognitive abilities, and keep themselves sharp as they transition into a more relaxed lifestyle. Plus, because they have more control over work schedules and greater flexibility to work anywhere, they can prioritize family, travel, and other important opportunities as they wind down their career.”

In a Morningstar article, Costa shares the importance of this innovative concept:

"There's nothing about it that's super scary for employers, and we're looking at a massive brain drain of boomers and Gen X-ers getting close to retirement," he said. "I think flextirement is a great opportunity to retain people and to bring in talent from competitors who aren't offering it.”

But you don’t have to wait for employers to jump on the bandwagon. If the idea appeals to you, here are three ways you can start your own flextirement by becoming a freelancer.

1. Contract Work

Upwork, an online work marketplace, provides a clear definition and some valuable insights about contract work in an article titled “What is a Contract Job and How Does It Work?” Essentially, a contract job involves performing a certain task for a certain amount of money:

“The contract defines the task the professional will manage, the amount the business will pay for the professional’s services, and the timeframe. The relationship between the contractor and business ends after the job is complete, unless the contractor is hired for another job with the business.”

Some examples of contract jobs are accounting services, social media strategy, website development, or logo design. If you become a freelancer, you could also provide training to businesses on different systems and software.

Contract work is a great option for aspiring freelancers because it allows you to stay flexible as you build your career. You can choose what you want to do, who you want to work for, and how much you want to work.

2. Project Work

Project work is similar to contract work, like the example we shared about Ron Petrescue. As Director of Special Projects, he was hired to lead a project that relied on his previous skills as a Technical Producer and Technical Manager.

If you’re hired for a freelance project, you may be asked to share your ideas and take on a leadership role based on your experience and specialization. You could be responsible for the planning and creation phases of the project, and the job ends once the project is complete.

For example, if you’re asked to create teaching materials for a course, your project work could include

  • Examining the curriculum
  • Researching the subject matter
  • Brainstorming ideas for presenting content
  • Creating relevant guides and resources.

Like contract work, project work allows you to have a flexible schedule and freedom to focus on niches that you enjoy.

3. Freelance Consultant Work

When you become a freelance consultant, you help clients solve problems by offering guidance and advice.

This is an ideal type of work for flextirement because it allows you to share valuable knowledge you’ve gathered during your career. You can invest in the next generation, who will benefit greatly from your wisdom.

It’s up to you to decide how many clients you’d like to have and what kind of schedule works for you. Many consultants use video conferencing platforms like Zoom to speak with clients, but there are other options, including messaging apps like Voxer.

You can also choose your specialty. Here are some examples:

  • Management consulting
  • Marketing consulting
  • Non-profit consulting
  • Business strategy consulting
  • Sales consulting
  • Public relations consulting
  • Design/brand consulting
  • IT consulting.

The future of work is here, and it’s yours for the taking! As this new trend develops, take some time to reflect on your previous career. Think about how you might want to build your own flextirement, one that will give you flexibility, fulfillment, and financial opportunities.

Handy Tools

Voxer is an interesting communication tool that can be used in both personal and professional life. It’s available as a free app for iPhone, Android, and the web. Along with voice, you can communicate with text, video, photos, gifs, and location sharing.

Some consultants use it as an alternative to Zoom calls because it allows for asynchronous communication. For instance, instead of communicating in real time through online video, clients and consultants can leave each other voice messages. It’s helpful for people who feel uncomfortable being put on the spot and prefer having time to think before responding.

You can also push a button to talk and be heard as you speak. During live communication, your speech is recorded, so the recipient can listen to it later.

The Personal plan is free, and paid plans with premium features start at $3.99/user/month.

Did You Know?

According to an article by CNN, the Journal of the American Geriatrics has published a study that suggests older people can lower their risk of dementia by regularly using the internet.

"The researchers saw this association after about eight years tracking 18,154 adults between the ages of 50 and 65 who did not have dementia when the study period began….
"Each of the participants was asked a simple question: 'Do you regularly use the World Wide Web, or the Internet, for sending and receiving e-mail or for any other purpose, such as making purchases, searching for information, or making travel reservations?'
"People who used the internet at the start of the study had about half the risk of dementia as people who were not regular users."

Although more evidence is needed, this finding is good incentive to stay active online!

Here’s to an exciting future, where flextirement gives you the opportunity to build your knowledge and write the title of your dreams on your next business card!

Unretire Like Peter Drucker

Last week we launched our brand new YouTube Channel, "Freelance After 50" and have just released our second video, "Unretire like Peter Drucker and Live with Purpose".

In this short video, we unpack five simple questions to prepare for your exciting second-act career. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Co-founders of Freelance University

431B 41st Avenue NE - Unit 94, Calgary, AB T2E 2N4
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