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Legacy Jobs in Mid-Life: Is Now the Right Time?

By Dr. Jan Cannon

For many, midlife is the time for a reassessment of values; a sense that it's time to have a job that "gives back."

Depending on where you are in your lifespan, the job you're looking for may be a radical change from the last job you held.

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If you're near the end of mortgage payments and college tuitions and your debt is somewhat under control, your next job may be doing something that you might not have considered earlier in your career.

Career burnout may be the impetus to make a radical change even if the financial situation isn't perfect.

Legacy Job?

What does a "legacy job" look like? It may be a teacher after a career as a Marine drill sergeant or a mechanical engineer. It may be the finance officer of a non-profit like The Boys and Girls clubs or a local foundation. It could be the administrator or receptionist at a senior center or other community center. Or it could be as the marketing guru for a foundation that represents a cause you believe in.

The point of legacy jobs is to use your experience to support organizations that usually don't pay very well, but provide services that society needs. And they make you feel good, too.

Mid-Life and Giving Back

Mid-life is the time when we all realize we won't live forever and begin thinking about how we want to be remembered when we're no longer around. Socially-valued work is considered an expression of "generativity" by the eminent social scientist, Erik Erikson. It is a time to "give back" to society. This can be either through paid or unpaid employment with an organization that supports important social and civic goals. Or working as a mentor or guide for future generations.

Finding jobs where you can leave a legacy is becoming easier as the boomer generation is moving into this phase of life. There are organizations that match your skills and interests with "business" options where you can use them. And there are books, websites and associations if you have a preference for a field or particular job title. And more are emerging all the time. There are local, state and federal government opportunities. Join the cause for clean water, safe food or another effort that is close to your heart.

Not Ready, Yet?

If you're not in a position to give up the full-time paycheck, think about what you'd like to do when it's your time to create a legacy. Maybe you can do some volunteering in your areas of interest to determine which direction you'd like to focus your skills and energy. Then when the time comes, you'll have made some contacts and will be ready to move.


About the author...

Dr. Jan Cannon, Job-Hunt's Mid-Life Career Expert, is author of Now What Do I Do? The Woman's Guide to a New Career, Find a Job: 7 Steps to Success, Finding a Job in a Slow Economy, co-author of Exceptional Accomplishment, and a career professional for 20 years. Visit her website, JobSearchDoctor.com, and circle Jan on Google+ for more career advice and help.