Never too late to reinvent yourself
Take a look in the mirror. What do you really see for yourself over the next 20 years?
If you’re a baby boomer, you’ll be joining the growing ranks of individuals in semi-retirement or retirement age who, because of financial or personal reasons, are considering their future and reinventing themselves in the process.
Some seniors simply must continue to work, explains Connecticut career coach Nancy Collamer, author of “Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement.” (Ten Speed Press, 2013)
Even those who have put money aside have to rethink their retirement plans because of dwindling pensions or the uncertainty about Social Security. So they start pondering how they’ll spend the next decade or two.
“But this time around, we want to be able to do so on our own terms, on our own timetable and in our own way. This time, we plan to call the shots,” Collamer says.
Mark Harris, a career designer from Austin, Tex., says reinvention has replaced retirement. Boomers were raised by parents who lived through WWII and the Great Depression. They valued stability and taught their children to do the same.
“Many of us went from the security of our parents’ home into the security of a father-figure like solid company that would provide a structure for our success until we retired,” explains Miller, author of “Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers.” (Career Pivot Publishing, 2013). The careers they pursued may not have fulfilled them, but they served dutifully.
Now they have a chance to ditch the golden handcuffs and pursue work that they find truly meaningful.
Finding your north star
Collamer says that, despite the economic nosedive boomers have witnessed, opportunities are plentiful for those with an entrepreneurial mindset, or for those who want contract work. Some points to consider:
• Technology has made it easier for people of all ages to work from anywhere at any hour.
• Flexible employment options have improved and diversified.
• Online services have made it easier and cheaper for more people to start their own business.
• The Internet provides unlimited access to information and training.
In her book, Collamer profiles dozens of individuals who have turned their expertise into money-making operations, including a lawyer turned mediator and a former Microsoft executive who teaches marketing to magicians.
The process of looking at the options available to you should be taken seriously. Collamer calls this “process research and development,” or R & D. You should budget some money to explore different options, take classes or retreats and read books.
Keep a reinvention journal for your thoughts and remember important facts. But also schedule R & D activities on your calendar.
Collamer likens creating a new career to planting a garden.
“It takes a bit of work to get things rolling, but if you invest the time to create fertile growing conditions, then you get to enjoy a bountiful harvest,” she says.
Walking the uneasy road
Recommendations for finding the right path to your North Star vary. Miller takes a strategic approach that requires a thoughtful analysis of your skill sets, resources (both personal and financial), family support, health conditions and emotional well-being.
“Picking a new direction for your life requires traveling uncomfortable new territory,” he explains.
His approach also involves thinking back to what he calls “moments of clarity” during which you saw life differently. These moments could include a marriage or divorce, the birth of a child or an illness. Think back to what those moments taught you and what you learned about yourself and your needs.
Miller offers others action steps for walking down this road:
• Throw yourself a pity party, which Miller calls “The Changing Economy Killed My Retirement Party.” Then clean up and move on.
• Study the difference between your vision for retirement before the economic collapse to what you see today.
• Determine what you find rewarding about work. What factors contributed to that feeling?
• Jot down what you need from a job, like freedom, respect, physical activity and variety.
• Identify the kind of work culture that most appeals to you. Be specific.
• Take a career and personality assessment, such as the Birkman, to uncover underlying needs and motivators. Coaches such as Miller also help you interpret the results.
© CTW Features