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Second-Act Careers: Are You Ready for an Encore?

Key Takeaways

  • Second-act careers involve leaving your long-standing job for a profession that’s more fulfilling or fuels your passion.
  • People in retirement have more flexibility to pursue a second-act career since they can better withstand a dip in income or lack of health insurance.
  • Show patience before taking your next job. It’s important to make the right career move, not just any one.

You’ve accomplished quite a bit in your life. You’ve built a career, maybe even raised a family and seen your children enter adulthood, and retirement is either upon you or right around the corner.

Now what?

Look ahead to the next 20-30 years. Are you hoping to make some changes to jumpstart the second act of your life? Could a new career be the change of pace you’re looking for?

A second-act career (also known as an encore career) allows you to shift from a long-standing job later in life to one that allows you to give back, fuel your passion, or simply learn something new. Perhaps you’ve worked in sales at the same company for the past 30 years but always wanted to work in healthcare. Or you’ve wondered if your love of pottery could stand as a business of its own someday. The second act of your life provides the time and flexibility necessary to take these chances.

So, are you ready to take the leap of faith?

Is this the right time?

Pursuing a new career can be exciting, but before you start filling out applications and setting up interviews, evaluate where you are in life. What kind of expenses do you have? Is now the time to pursue a job that involves more fulfillment or excitement but has a lower salary? It’s probably wise to wait until your kids have graduated from college or your retirement savings are in good order so you can withstand the drop in income. Also take stock of your medical expenses as some second-act careers don’t offer health insurance.

Are you retired? Then the time is right! You’re far more flexible to take a lower-paying job since any income in retirement is a positive, plus the lack of health insurance is easier to withstand. Assuming you’re physically capable to remain in the workforce, you’re good to go.

Find your passion

Once you’ve established the timing is right, think about what you want to accomplish with your remaining years. Now’s the time to do some soul-searching. If you could make money doing anything in the world, what would it be?

Second-act career changes are about finding more excitement and fulfillment. Going to “work” every day should be a joy, not a burden. For example, someone who’s spent most of their career in a cubical might want to shift to field work as a nurse. This allows them to give back to their community while also embarking on a completely different profession that rejuvenates their curiosity and learning. After all, you’re never too old to learn something new.

Others might like the skills they use in their current job but want to put them to better use. If you had a successful career in accounting and enjoyed the work, consider using those skills to help a non-profit balance its budget and, in turn, better help people. That way you’re not starting from scratch but using your well-polished skills in a different manner.

Looking for a different way to give back? Check in with local colleges to see if you can try your hand at teaching. Passing on your skills to a new generation could provide the satisfaction that you’re helping others chase their dreams. Plus, some teaching jobs give you the flexibility to pick a class schedule that best fits into your life.

Getting started

Pursuing a second-act career can be thrilling — so thrilling that you’re tempted to take the first job that comes up offering something fresh and different. Avoid this temptation. This decision should be treated with patience. You’re looking for the right job to fuel your passion — rushing into a job that has question marks could backfire and put you back to square one. (This is especially the case for people with years before they enter retirement.)

If you’re still in the workforce, look for evening or weekend courses at a local community college or other venue. Or you could take online courses, which provide more flexibility to learn a new skill or profession on your own time.

Those in retirement have more time to test-drive a new job through part-time work. If you don’t like it, you can easily cut the cord and try something else. The same goes for an internship, assuming applicants aren’t limited to college students or recent graduates.

If you’re struggling to figure out your next step or simply need help appealing to employers, reach out to a career coach to receive the proper guidance to prime you for success in the next stage of your life.

More information

Mapping out the second act of your life can be complicated. You have dreams for retirement but might need some assistance making them a reality. To learn how to get the most out of your second act, please call 1-800-242-2224, visit us online, or schedule a Citizens Retirement Checkup® at your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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