Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.
For many retirees today, the secret to a successful retirement is an oxymoron; a successful retirement actually means work.
But this type of work may look different than the career you’ve held for 40 years. Instead, there are a host of second careers that today’s retirees are pursuing.
“People today are saying, ‘I don’t want to sit on my porch when I retire,'” says Chicago, Ill.-based Judi Lansky, president and founder of Lansky Career Consultants.
Many people are choosing to pursue a second, or an “encore,” career in retirement, and not because they are strapped for cash. They are seeking meaning. “They want to do something that is interesting, challenging, and gets them out with other people,” she says.
While the lure of a new career may be keeping many Americans engaged in the workforce, there are important considerations to make before launching into a second career for retirees, Lansky advises.
If you’re one of many Americans who is approaching retirement age — and is eager to start the next chapter of life with a new career — here are some pieces of advice.
1. Know What You Want From a Second Career
A successful second career can be challenging to your identity. At best, you find work that:
- Offers the hours (part-time or full-time) and flexibility you desire, plus the salary and benefits you need
- Puts you around people you want to spend time with
- Involves tasks that make you happy
So, where do you start figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life? Many older adults say that thinking about a retirement job actually reminds them of being in high school or college and trying to determine who they are and what they want to be.
If this is you, you might want to consider using some of these resources to determine what you want out of a second career.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook is an excellent and comprehensive resource for learning about different careers. You can learn about the work environment, salary, job outlook, education requirements, and so much more.
There is also a slew of books that can help you identify how you might want to spend the rest of your life. Options include:
- The Encore Career Handbook: This title comes from encore.org a leading organization advocating for jobs for seniors and retirement careers.
- What Color is Your Parachute?: This classic is as relevant now as it ever was.
- I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was: Another classic that focuses on helping readers find their passion.
- From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life is a new offering. It is billed as a “roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age, from bestselling author, Harvard professor, and the Atlantic’s happiness columnist Arthur Brooks.”
2. Be Honest About Your Time Commitment for Your Second Career
Starting a new second career requires a lot of time and effort, and it’s important to be honest about how much time you are willing to dedicate to a new professional endeavor.
“That’s the difference between a hobby and career,” Lansky says. “Some people may realize they are really looking for something part-time. Maybe they want to spend Tuesday and Thursday with the grandkids. Working 40 to 50 hours a week might not be realistic.”
Some of the time required to transition into a new career can be tied up in learning new skills, she says, noting that you might need to take classes or other types of training courses to get started in a new field.
“Sometimes skills transfer to the next field, but it’s not always that easy,” she says.
Taking any required training courses while still at your current place of employment can help make the transition into a new career much easier and quicker, she says.
3. Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Next Career After Retirement
The grass is always greener on the other side, and it’s important to do your homework before jumping into a new role, Lansky advises.
Sometimes, those who enter a new field discover their desired role wasn’t what they had imagined.
“Talking to people in your new chosen field, and even shadowing someone can be a very good thing to do,” she says. “You want to learn about it, but also see if you really like it.”
For those who know the switch is the right fit for them, begin building a network in that new field now, before assuming the new role.
“You’ll need that network to make the career change,” she says, noting that an established professional network will also make the transition easier.
4. Embrace Your Inner Youth for Success in Your Second Career
Your new career may have you working alongside millennials, and it’s important to show a new employer that you can collaborate with them.
Older workers have a great deal of sophistication and experience to contribute to any organization, and keeping up with the latest trends and technology is an important way to make sure your strengths are not overlooked, Lansky says.
5. Update or Create Your Retirement Plan With a Second Career in Mind
Working in retirement can impact many details of your overall retirement plan: your retirement income, health benefits, taxes, how you should be invested and so much more.
It is important for you to understand the implications (mostly positive) of your overall plan. The best retirement calculators – like the NewRetirement Retirement Planner – will let you enter information about retirement jobs and will show you how it impacts your finances now and into the future.
Pursuing a second career can be very rewarding, but it’s not without challenges. Being prepared for what a new role entails will make your later years all the more enjoyable, Lansky says.
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