Ready for an Encore? How to Pursue an Encore Career in Retirement

mature man assists female customer in a flower nursery and pursues an encore career in retirement

Key Takeaways

  • Passion-Alignment: Discover and pursue activities that energize you, aligning passions with skills for a fulfilling encore career.
  • Preparedness & Persistence: Embrace challenges, stay motivated, and define your own success terms in your new career.
  • Skill Development: Utilize local classes, online courses, networking, and volunteering to acquire new skills for your encore journey.

As a child, your dream career likely varied from one year to the next. At age 7, you may have wanted to be an astronaut. At age 10, a prima ballerina. And by 13, your sights may have shifted to becoming a teacher, lawyer or doctor.

You don't have to stop dreaming just because you're retired. An encore career could help you discover your true passions, lead a fulfilling life and remain socially active in your golden years. A new career path could also open you up to new experiences and offer additional income.

Pursue Your Passions

Whether you decide to return to your previous industry or delve into an entirely new line of work, your career objectives may be different now. An encore career can provide additional income and control over work-life balance.

You also have an opportunity to finally pursue your passions and interests. So, what would you truly enjoy if you were free from financial or societal pressure?

These questions could help you discover what really makes you thrive:

  • What activities make you feel energized or fulfilled?
  • What activities do you enjoy so much you lose track of time?
  • Do you have any interests that you were never able to pursue?
  • If you had no commitments for the day, how would you spend your time?

Consider writing down your thoughts as soon as they come — without analyzing the logistical or practical implications. This list could help you understand where your true passions lie. Any combination of these answers could spark an idea for an encore career opportunity you might not have considered before.

Align Your Skills

Brainstorming could help you discover the activities that truly stimulate you emotionally and intellectually. And once you have identified areas that excite you, you could think about ways to align these passions with your current skill sets to find the perfect career path.

Maybe your background is in communications and management, but hiking in the woods with your dogs really makes you feel energized. You could consider an encore career as the owner of a dog walking business or a seasonal nature guide.

You could also think about the skills you possess that you've never been able to use professionally. If you've practiced meditation for years, for example, you could be a wonderful meditation instructor at a corporate wellness center or local yoga studio — even if your professional background was corporate finance.

Combining your skills and passions could help you find an encore career that brings you joy in your golden years.

Prepare for Peaks & Valleys

Embarking on a new career path at any stage in life takes time, patience, persistence, creativity and (at times) humility. There may be periods when you don't generate much income — or you might be working for a person who is much younger than you. Preparedness helps stay motivated in an encore career.

What do you value about an encore career? Consider making a list of the tangible and intangible reasons why you would like to pursue an encore career. Could it be an opportunity to give back to a cause you find meaningful? Do you enjoy the thrill of learning new information, taking risks or throwing yourself into new experiences?

You define the terms of success in an encore career. If you experience moments of frustration, review your list and remind yourself why you pursued this new career path.

Examine Your Resources

Not only has technology transformed how employers post job opportunities and hire employees, but it has also changed the landscape of available job opportunities. This may mean that your new career will require new skill sets, which could be an exciting opportunity to learn and grow.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you develop new skills:

  • Local classes: Consider taking classes at your local library or adult education center. Whether you need to learn to navigate new technologies or master another language, hands-on guidance could help you thrive in your encore career.
  • Online classes: There are countless online classes available that could help you learn almost any skill imaginable. Most classes are self-guided, which could help you develop these skills at your own pace.
  • Networking groups: Attending local networking groups could help you meet like-minded peers who work in your desired field — and who may be willing to share insight.
  • Volunteering: Aside from the personal fulfillment that comes with giving your time to causes you're passionate about, volunteering could give you an insider's perspective. You could develop practical experience in industries, roles and organizations related to your encore career.

The Bottom Line

An encore career could be an opportunity to redefine who you want to be in this phase of your life. Brainstorming your passions, identifying (and growing) your skill sets and putting together a plan of action could help you find the perfect encore career. It's never too late to dream about tomorrow — so consider taking the first steps on your next journey.

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