10 Keys to a Rewarding Second Act Career

You have retired, and you are supposed to be relaxing and enjoying life — your “golden years.”

But, perhaps the time has arrived for your Second Act Career — what you might like to do when you have retired but still want, or need, to work.

What are some of the key things you should think about when creating your Second Act Career?

This is a great question and one that I talked about frequently during interviews about my book, Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement.

Finding Your Second Act Career(s)

In doing the research for the book, I discovered a number of behaviors that consistently resulted in successful career reinventions.

  1. Do not get hung up on trying to find your “one and only” passion.  

Few people have one driving passion, and the focus on building a second-act career around that “one true love” can create needless anxiety and frustration. Do not let the quest for the one and only mystical passion derail you before you even get started.

Instead, focus on causes you find compelling, people you find interesting and activities you enjoy and find meaningful — and then start exploring second-act options that line up with those varied interests and skills.

  2. Be true to who you are.  

Honoring who you are and what makes you unique is the first step in aligning yourself with work that allows you to shine and radiate your brilliance to the world. Doing this is not always easy, especially when you have worked hard for years to establish yourself in your professional life.

But knowing and claiming what you really want, as opposed to what society claims you should want, is a critical link to success in the reinvention process. When you are willing to let go of the glossy trappings of your career in favor of more personally-significant paths, amazing transformations happen.

  3. Worry less about finding a job and more about filling a need.  

By some estimates nearly half of the U.S. job market will consist of freelance and temporary workers by the end of 2020, espeically with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this freelance trend is arguably problematic for many people — especially younger workers — it is an opportunity for boomers who like project work and no longer want to deal with the demands of full-time employment.

So now is the time to stop thinking along the lines of “I need to find a traditional job” and more in terms of generating income through freelance assignments, project work, part-time jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

  4. Brainstorm ideas with colleagues.  

There is no better, or easier, way to get ideas about second-act careers than to talk with your industry colleagues. They know you, and they know the industry. And assuming the two of you are close in age, they may be actively thinking about the very same issues themselves.

This is a case where two heads are indeed better than one; together you can brainstorm ideas, discuss training programs, and investigate ways to create new income streams around needed products or services.

  5. Adopt an opportunity-seeker mind-set.  

Never before in history have we enjoyed easier access to more information. Every day you have the opportunity to learn about thousands, even millions, of new options for semi-retirement from newspapers, television, and the Internet. You can make it a point to consciously pay attention to this information, or you can choose to ignore it.

Many of the people profiled in Second Act Careers found their second-act opportunities simply by keeping their “opportunity antenna” on alert and paying closer attention to what they were reading, hearing and experiencing on a daily basis.

6. Start sooner rather than later.  

Far too many people wait until the eleventh hour to start their career-planning process. Do not be one of them. This is a process that can take months, and sometimes years, to fully evolve and no matter how well you plan, there are always unexpected twists and turns, stops and starts, and moments of doubt along the reinvention journey.

Give yourself the time to succeed – the sooner you begin to explore, the better off you will be.

  7. Expect resistance.  

Realize that your friends and family will likely be impacted by your career decisions: personal time, finances, and interests can all be affected when people change careers. As a result, friends and family might not be as supportive of your “great news” as you might hope. Try to understand.

Exercise patience, stay calm, keep communicating, and give everyone time to adjust. Over time the tension will ease as everyone adapts to new routines, roles and circumstances.

  8. Invest in your success.  

Put aside a small amount of money each year to spend on classes, workshops and other opportunities to learn about new career directions.

It does not need to be much, but once you earmark those funds, you will be more likely to invest in your ongoing education (and if you hesitate to spend the money on yourself, just think about what you spent on your kids’ piano and ice-skating lessons over the years!).

Adult education is a big business these days, and there are more opportunities than ever for midlife career changers to indulge in lifelong learning.

  9. Recognize that forced change can be a gift.  

Many of the people profiled in my book had to create their second acts in response to the economic collapse of 2008. That does not mean it was easy or comfortable, but a willingness to reframe adversity into a potential advantage allowed them to explore options that they might not have previously considered.

As Winston Churchill once wisely noted, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

  10. Practice patience.  

Finally, do remember that career reinvention is often an unpredictable journey that evolves and builds upon a series of smaller actions: You will engage in a conversation – that leads to an introduction to an interesting person – which inspires you to enroll in a class – that results in a new opportunity.

As one of the people profiled in my book, Terri Lloyd said, “It is not like a firecracker that goes off and suddenly you are catapulted. It is many, many small steps, lots of failures and the accumulation of the learning along the way. All roads lead to someplace.” So be patient and stay the course – over time, success will follow.

The Bottom Line:

Enjoy your Second Act Career! It may be the most rewarding in many ways, and no rule limits you to only one.  They may evolve as your interests and needs change, or change quickly as you face other challenges in your life.

More About Successful Career Change:

Nancy CollamerAbout the author…

Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker, and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com (and you’ll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter).
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