Thursday, March 15, 2012

Encore Careers: Live to Work Instead of Work to Live


Photo by Tim Cummings
Now that many people are living 20 or even 30 years beyond traditional retirement age, older workers are exploring other options besides decades of leisure.   

You may not be familiar with the term Encore Career, but you probably have some experience with it. 

Did you or your children have a school teacher who was retired military?  That is an example of an encore career: someone who retires from their first career and picks up a second one that is more focused on serving the broader community. 


There are a variety of reasons why older adults postpone retirement.  While some research suggests that only a portion of older adults have the luxury to “follow their bliss” in their career goals, many are finding a way to set aside goals of money, power and fame in favor of more idealistic aims. 

Marc Freedman, author of Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, suggests these fields for older adults seeking purpose and passion over a paycheck: 
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • The Aging Field
  • Government
  • The Non-profit Sector 


Forbes presents data indicating that education places highest among encore careers, others cite a growing need for leadership among nonprofit sectors.  A relative newcomer, green careers appears on others' lists of second careers.

I flatter myself to think that the information and links that I present here are valuable to the older worker. Again and again, I observe that older workers use their experience, wisdom and creativity to enter existing fields on their own terms.  The real truth? They can teach me how to manage my own encore career as I move from my first career as a college English teacher and into an encore career as a gerontologist. 

Older workers sometimes create new jobs that bring together their skills set, their ideals and a pressing social needs.  For just a small subset of examples, check out the recent Encore prizewinners.  They include transformative work with assisting Chinese orphans, revitalizing the rust belt, cooking safety for third-world households, supporting African immigrants in the US, and fighting global warming. 

I am eager to see in the upcoming decades how older workers not only transform late adulthood but how they will transform society.

Do you know an older adult who has radically shifted careers?  Are you planning a big career change later in life?  Please share in the comments below.

Related:

Easing Into Retirement
Age-Related Changes to How We Write
Full SS Benefits at 65 No More

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