Career changes are hard…especially past 50

Encore Career book

Career changes are hard. I remember when I worked at a major culinary school in New York City where we had an entire category of students that we sought.  They were the career changers.  Ultimately a large portion of them would become disillusioned with the long hours and low pay of the culinary world and return to their previous career choice.  Career changes are even harder when you don’t take the time to ask yourself some tough questions first.

Taking a look at new paths has me delving into this book, The Encore Career Handbook, that I picked up about a year ago. The author is the vice president of the Encore project. An encore career might seem a little premature for me,  a 51 year old guy who still has a lot of gas left in the tank, but it bears some thought since I’m a planner.

The Young Old

The book makes the point, early on, that my generation is “the young old”.   At first I thought that seemed a bit harsh, but the more I traverse this landscape, the more I’m finding new and unique challenges.  The author is clearly grounded in not looking at 60 being the new 40,  but 60 being the new 60 and 50 being the new 50, etc.  We need to plan for extra years, and if we can spend those years making a difference then we can tip the aging scale from a perceived curse to a blessing.

The core focus of this blog is to help people manage and improve their finances in a way that might allow for an early retirement.  However, the reality for most, might not be quite as rosy as full financial independence.  Me and my wife just crossed over the $1M Net worth mark, (watch for an upcoming post about that) and I’m still feeling anxious about being a one income family.  She intends to work for the foreseeable future and loves what she does.  However, for me, I’ve been wondering what is next and how do I get there? See my previous post on taking a year off.

Making your roadmap

I’ve been looking at several resources to get me from point A to point B.   These include, online education, networking and skills certification.

However, this book brings a focus and a planning process that provides much needed direction.  Just as we need to set goals for our finances, and understand our tolerance for risk, we need to do those things in planning for a career change also.  This books lays out 9 specific exercises that helps narrow the focus on what might make you happy in an “Encore career”.  It leaves a lot latitude for interpretation and flexibility in tweaking your results.

The author also makes a great point that you might want to avoid the term “passion” since there might not be a direct correlation between your passion and your new career choice, but figuring out the underlying root of that passion might allow you to discover something that is very fulfilling and more sustainable.

The book lists the following additional websites as resources for making self-assessments: 

Overall, with proper planning, moving to the next phase of our careers doesn’t need to be as scary as it might seem.  I’m slowly realizing, you can do what you love, make money, and make a difference.  That’s a nice place to be.

What would you do if you could have all three?




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