Second Careers in Midlife or Retirement: What Options Are Most Important to You?

When you think about second careers, do you know what you want?

  • "Moby's writing table" by ktylerconk, on FlickrAre you yearning to do something completely different?
  • Do you dream of an opportunity to be more creative?
  • Are you looking for more independence?
  • Would you like to work for a company whose values you can respect?

Making the transition to second careers is becoming common for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. U.S. Department of Labor studies show that people will be making 3 to 5 major career changes – not just job changes – during their lifetimes.

Money may still be a strong consideration for you when changing careers in midlife. But if you’re like so many others these days, it’s not as important as feeling more engaged in your work this second time around. Here are four of the most common wishes people express when they think about embarking upon second careers.

Transforming an Interest or Hobby Into a Career

Do you already have a passion, something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe there’s a way you can turn your special interest or hobby into a career. Midlife or retirement careers can be a way for you to express your creativity and find more enjoyment in your work. You might even wish to pursue more than one interest at the same time.

It’s important to let yourself think in terms of possibilities. Take some time to brainstorm ideas and think outside the box.

For example, you may be interested in making money from your gardening hobby. Depending on your interests and skills, you could… sell plants, design flower arrangements, teach horticulture classes, speak to community groups about how to create an eco-friendly garden, sell your own design services, or write articles for magazines. How many more ideas can you come up with?

More Flexibility at Work

Do you wish you had more time for your family? Or just for you? Maybe you’ve been putting in well over 40 hours a week, and you’re thinking it’s time to get your life back. You might be interested in more flexible work arrangements, such as a part-time job, a portfolio career, job sharing, telecommuting, a shorter work week, or flex time.

Many believe that with more Baby Boomers planning to stay in the workforce, plus the increasing costs of commuting, more employers will be forced to offer more flexible work options. For now, though, you can try to negotiate alternative work arrangements with your employer.

Autonomy and Freedom

Are you looking for more freedom and the chance to do things on your own terms? Self-employment or even starting your own business could be for you. The idea of not having to answer to anyone else can be very attractive, but it’s important for you to understand what’s involved in working for yourself.

When looking at self-employment opportunities, you need to be prepared to:

  • have a less predictable income
  • feel isolated at times
  • learn how to market your services or business
  • be persistent in the face of self-doubts
  • handle or outsource administrative tasks

And the upside of self-employment? You get to create a business or lifework that reflects your values and your personality.

Working for a Company that Cares

What if you want to remain in the corporate world, but would like to be able to express your values in your work? Then it becomes important to find a company whose values match yours. When your values are aligned with those at your workplace, you can be who you really are. You no longer have to play a role or compromise yourself in any way.

Workplace spirituality is a recent movement that looks at spirituality in a broad sense, and emphasizes:

  • a more caring work environment
  • values and ethics
  • service to others and the planet
  • honoring each person’s strengths and life purpose
  • the opportunity to grow and contribute in a meaningful way

Whatever options are most important to you, second careers in midlife or retirement offer you a way to live and work more authentically, this time around.

What’s most important for you in your second career?

Photo credit: ktylerconk / CC license

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