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February 19, 2020
However, let’s face it, the hardest part of a big retirement change is figuring out what new thing you want to pursue. It can be difficult to create a meaningful and purpose driven life.
Explore these resources for identifying and achieving success in your second career or changing life completely:
A handful of highly prestigious universities are offering year-long programs of study designed to help accomplished professionals discern how to best use their skills and interests in a meaningful second act. Spouse’s are usually included in the program.
These opportunities cost from $16,000 up to $65,000 and are open to people who:
Here are some of the most esteemed programs:
Notre Dame: The University of Notre Dame offers the Inspired Leadership Initiative (ILI). ILI is a program for accomplished individuals from all disciplines (business, non-profit, academic just to name a few) who have completed their chosen careers and wish to spend an academic year at Notre Dame experiencing intellectual immersion, local and global community engagement, and many of the rich resources the University has to offer to pivot to their next stage in life.
Stanford University: The Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI) seeks to improve the life journey of accomplished individuals in midlife by helping them renew their purpose, build a new community and recalibrate wellness – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Harvard: Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative is designed for corporate executives and professionals interested in applying their skills to social problems.
The University of Texas at Austin: UT Austin’s TOWER Fellows Program allows individuals to explore, discover, reflect, and prepare for whatever they decide comes next. The program seeks participants who are eager to pause, think, and create a new, enriching professional and personal journey for the next stage of their lives.
University of Minnesota: The University of Minnesota Advanced Careers (UMAC) aspires to: 1) enrich the development of adults in the second half of life; 2) connect experienced talent with community needs for the common good; and 3) re-imagine higher education as an inter-generational enterprise.
Writing about the highly selective programs above almost gave me hives. It definitely gave me that pit in my stomach that I had applying to college (and seeing my kids apply to college). That is not my idea of an ideal retirement experience.
The good news is that you don’t need a prestigious university to find a new purpose in life. You do need time and the discipline to explore ideas.
Here are 15 tips for finding a new retirement career, a whole new life or meaning and purpose for your retirement:
If you are working full time, it can be difficult to really focus on what you want to do next. Many successful retirees have given themselves a few months or a year or more to really explore what they want to do.
However, most retirees don’t want to be stressed about finances while trying to figure out how to make an impact in the world. And, giving yourself time usually means giving up income.
Having a detailed retirement plan can help you feel confident about giving yourself time to figure out your ideal future. Could you:
Try any of these different scenarios in the NewRetirement Retirement Planner to figure out an amenable way to give yourself time.
When evaluating ideas for your second career, you need to keep your long term financial needs in mind. In addition to figuring out how to fund a period of time to identify what you want to do, you also need to understand whether or not you need your second career to be a source of income.
After all, volunteering is a viable second act, but it is not going to pay the bills. (Explore 6 ways to make a volunteer impact.)
Discover your financial needs with the NewRetirment Planner.
Whether you just want to explore new ideas or if you feel like you need to learn some things for your next act, your local college can be a really valuable resource. You can enroll in or even audit classes.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Get some inspiration by looking at the types of things other people are doing with their second careers.
Here you can find 12 business ideas for people over 50. You might also want to check out Encore.org. They describe themselves as, “an innovation hub tapping the talent of people 50+ as a force for good.”
Reading is an excellent way to grow and learn. Whether you are following specific people in your area of interest on Twitter or diving deep into a text book, reading is powerful.
Reading has been found to enhance connectivity in the brain which is ideal for figuring out your next act. (And, as a side benefit, regular reading may help slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.)
While reading a wide variety of things is great for general inspiration, Tom Schreier, the founding director at Notre Dame’s Inspired Leadership Initiative, recommends three books specifically for figuring out your second career:
Find some other relevant book recommendations in the Retirement Survival Kit.
Perhaps you don’t really have any idea at all of what you want to come next in your life. In this case, you might want to try saying “yes” to everything for a period of time. Experience a wide variety of new adventures and see what really resonates with you.
You don’t really know where inspiration will strike. As you explore second careers, you will likely benefit from new experiences. For example, can you:
On the flip side, you do have limited time to figure out your second career. Ha, let’s face it, you have limited time, period.
As such, it is really important to learn to say “no.” You need to stay focused on the things you really care about and that will mean saying “no” to a lot of other things.
It is especially important to say “no” if you have started to gain momentum and are figuring out what direction you want your second career to take.
It is not enough to simply experience things and consume information. Thinking about life is useful, but what you really need to do is process your thoughts.
Writing makes fleeting thoughts in your brain become more concrete.
Whether you are keeping a journal to record your interests or writing business plans, putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) is a disciplined and powerful way to be clear in your thinking.
Like writing, talking about your ideas, interests and plans is a great way to make them more concrete.
If you can explain what you are thinking and feel good talking about it, then you may be on the right track.
However, don’t be worried by the naysayers. People have a tendency to be negative, but their doubts do not have to determine your future.
Once an idea for your future begins to form, you may want to find a mentor to help you coax the idea along.
Use LinkedIn or your own personal network to find someone doing what you want to do and ask them for help!
However, your mentor does not necessarily need to be someone in your field of interest. Your mentor could be a good friend who knows how to ask the right questions, provide encouragement and offer some outside analysis.
A financial advisor or an online retirement planner can help you with your finances. A retirement coach can help you be mentally and emotionally prepared for what happens when your career ends.
Use of a retirement coach is gaining in popularity. Learn more about retirement coaching.
Or, to search for a coach, use the search tool at Retirement Options, an organization that provides certifications specific to retirement. You can also check out the International Coach Federation to find a credentialed coach. Just type “retirement” in the keyword box to find someone who specializes in that area.
As you begin to develop some ideas for what you want to do with your second career, start taking action and doing things related to your goals: volunteer, conduct surveys, find a client, dive in and get your hands dirty.
Having a bias to action means that you are taking steps and moving forward. Try things out!
“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do.” — Norman Vincent Peale
If you are starting your quest for a second career without any idea of what you want to do, set short and long goals for figuring it out. For example:
If you already have an idea, set very specific time based goals to make it happen.
You are going to encounter all kinds of problems with achieving a second career. The secret to success is going to lay with your ability to overcome adversity, problem solve and persist with your goals.
Thomas Edison embodied the ultimate positive attitude about failures when he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Keep going! You will figure it out and, if you have chosen the right endeavor, you are probably having fun, even without the ultimate achievement.
If you aren’t actively pursuing your goal of figuring out your next career, you are wasting your time.
Write to do lists and stay on track. Figure out how to measure progress.
You may be pursuing a second career because you want meaning and purpose in your life. However, whatever you choose to do does have financial implications. The NewRetirement Planner allows you to model any type of future retirement income from a second career.
It can be exciting to see how your endeavors impact your plans.
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