How to step up, not back, if you’re semi-retired

By Lisa Gable
Lisa Gable, US Ambassador, UN Delegate and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, shares her perspective on why retirement should be a time to shine

You're retired, or semi-retired.  And you want to use your expertise to give back with joy and purpose in a manner that fits your financial and lifestyle goals. Defining your “non-retirement” years can be daunting. My advice is to be strategic and agile. Live the life you deserve to have. 

Embrace your inner unicorn by creating a future with things that are important to you

Begin by knowing how you want to be remembered. What story do you want your life to tell? Do you want to be seen as a stalwart of the community, mentor, kingmaker, champion, teacher, or innovator?

Remind yourself: “I am not solely identified as who I was. I will be defined as who I am and will be.”  Be energized by the goals you set and people with whom you surround yourself. Wake up in the morning knowing your purpose by doing the things you prefer to do instead of what you are obligated to do. 

Start the process without assumptions

Stay open to new ideas—ones that are less obvious may surprise you by being rich in potential. Take the time to engage in thoughtful discussions. Find like-minded people to help you fulfill your vision. Slow down. Don’t treat every step as something you have to do or obligate yourself to early in the process.  You can politely defer decisions by being transparent, direct, and appreciative of the interest.

Keep your relationships warm and reciprocate kindness by connecting, matchmaking, and reverse mentoring others.

Use your collective experience to achieve fulfillment

You have nothing to prove. Life is no longer a competition; it is a collaboration. Leverage the underlying strengths that make you special.  Execute at the pace you want with heart and agility. Be thoughtful and don’t overcommit.

The key is remembering the world doesn’t happen to you. You happen to it. Build relevance for any mission or idea you are promoting. Surround yourself with smart people and use research and partnerships as your secret weapons to opening opportunities for visibility. You aren’t stepping back but stepping up in a way that is empowering and satisfying. 

Invest in building momentum by prioritizing personal growth

Audit your contacts and your finances. Assess your value against your future vision. Create a personal decision matrix determined by your financial flexibility and the objectives that are important to you. Decide what stays in your life and what goes. Define yourself around the positive change you will make in society and business while building with compassion and humility.

Identify your personal team to serve as peer mentors as they may share common interests or be aware of new directions. Focus on the narrative you want to define you and continuously refine based on what you learn. 

Leave Your mark

Leverage your network for good. Make the most of introductions. Meet new people. Options for influence are endless:  boards, commissions, volunteerism, politics, mentorship, athletics, traveling, academia, writing, blogging, conservation, art, public speaking, or grandparenting. 

You can also leave the door open for workforce re-entry through job sharing or affiliation with a group of seasoned professionals to take on projects that interest you. Maybe you become a limited-term employee to test the waters or fill a gap as no long-term commitment is required.  There are no rules.

The things you build speak to your impact on the world around you.

Lisa Gable is the author of Wall Street Journal bestseller, Turnaround – How to Change Course When Things Are Going South.


Featured Articles

B Corp: Are they really the gold standard of sustainability?

B Corporation certification has long been hailed as the gold standard of sustainability – we explore why

Invest like a VC with Paula Tavangar

How does a retail investor replicate, as closely as possible, a venture capital investment strategy? Paula Tavangar of SwissBorg Ventures explores

March8 Academy: Getting girls to go green

Michelle Li shares how parents can ensure their children are taking the right steps to a more sustainable future

All in a day’s work: From a newborn to a business pitch


How do you prevent burnout impacting your busy schedule?


Sport in the spotlight: Phoebe Schecter