Did you retire early because you were ready for a change? Or did you accept a buyout because your corporation was downsizing?
It’s never too late to consider a second career. In fact, if you have stayed in the same industry for your entire career, you are in the minority. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says people change careers an average five times in their lifetime.
Here are some things to consider about the new professional you:
1. Do what you love.
This may be an obvious point to many, but it is crucial if you want to succeed in a career later in life. We often forget that our first career choice was made by a 20-something adult without much life experience and understanding of what working at a career for 20, 30 or 40 years truly means and requires of us every day.
There is little appreciation of the daily grind and self-motivation that it takes to get up every morning, make breakfast, get the kids off to school and get to work on time – let alone perform to the best of our ability day in and day out.
Deliberately choosing a career that you love or are passionate about is key. If you find yourself picking up books on a particular topic or regularly browsing the Internet for more information on a subject or industry then you might be staring your next career in the face. Since continuous learning is vital to a healthy brain and life, choosing a career that keeps you wanting to learn is a great first step.
Read our in-depth guide: Retirement Guide for Indiana Teachers
2. Do what you can make money at.
Okay, now the letdown. Not all passions are career aspirations that pay well – or at all. Unfortunately, too many Americans over the age of 50 do not have enough savings to consider retiring or starting a second career that pays poorly.
According to a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, 35 percent of all adults in the U.S. have only several hundred dollars in their savings accounts, 34 percent have zero savings and about half of U.S. families have no retirement account savings. Therefore, you need to find the financial sweet spot for your passion. Know your financial condition, know your budget and make informed choices about what you would be willing to give up (cable television, vacations, etc…) to make this second career a reality.
If you love gardening and want to open your own green house or nursery, you might find the financial hurdles too high so find a florist or garden center and tell them what you are passionate about and that you want to make that your career.
You might be surprised how many business owners struggle to find passionate employees and would hire you on the spot – even if they haven’t posted a job opening. Managing an employee who is passionate about their career and comes to work every day wanting to learn more is far easier to manage than someone who simply needs a paycheck.
3. Explore your own organization.
Many people itching to make a leap to something new fail to explore the opportunities within their current organization. Are you still passionate about your organization and its products or services but tired of working in a cubicle analyzing accounts or quality data day after day?
Consider opportunities in areas such as sales or customer service where your experience and knowledge can be leveraged. Travel is often a requirement with this type of work but that gets easier as our children grow up and leave home. Older adults who have more freedom at home, are easier to manage because they are more reliable.
Some companies have launched “phased retirement” programs that help longtime employees go into teaching or community-development work. IBM, for instance, started Transition to Teaching in 2008, preparing hundreds of former IBMers to teach math and science in public schools. Intel sponsors Intel Encore Fellowships, which connect employees to new careers with nonprofits. Your employer may not offer anything similar, but it’s worth asking.
4. Change your latitude, change your attitude.
Jimmy Buffet may be right after all. Sometimes it isn’t the work that we hate but the commute or the weather or the commute and the weather. Decades of daily two-hour commutes adds up to at least 10,000 to 15,000 hours. That’s like working an additional job for 5 to 7.5 more years. What if that commute were 15 minutes instead? How much more time would you have for the things that you love to do like walking, golf or cooking? A study of 4,297 Texans found that the farther the participants lived from where they worked—the longer their commutes—the higher their blood pressure was. High blood pressure over time is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Weather also contributes to long commutes for many of us who live in the Northeast or Midwest so it’s no surprise that people continue to move to sunnier and warmer locales. Once the Great Recession eased its grip, Florida continued to dominate many lists of the fastest-growing cities (with nine of the top 25), more than any other state, including six of the top 10. Meanwhile, cities from other areas of the South and the West Coast make up most of the rest of the list.
Remember most jobs and career opportunities are where most of the people are but be sure to research the commute as you consider neighborhoods and where to live.
5. Do your homework.
Use your life experience to help guide you in this process and take your time to do your homework on the options you are considering. Although there may be days in your current work situation that make you want to running, screaming for the exit door, take the time to investigate.
Other than the obvious Internet research, talk to colleagues, friends, family and people in the industry or career you are interested in. You have the time to do this right at this point in your life, don’t squander that experience and rush into anything that you haven’t examined from every angle.
Putting it all down on paper helps. Robert Hellmann, head of Hellmann Consulting and a coach with the Five O’Clock Club’s national career-counseling network, encourages people to make a spreadsheet with columns listing the pros and cons of each possible move they’re weighing. "Once all your ideas aren't just floating around in your head, it's much easier to see your way forward," says Hellmann in Fortune. “One thing I suggest that people ask themselves is, ‘What will I regret most in 10 years if I don’t do it now?’
If one of your options is to invest in a new business or franchise, take the time to get a financial expert’s opinion before taking the plunge. Failure in business is much harder if it also wipes out your nest egg.