“How much money is enough?” is a great question to ponder in your journey to an encore career. And, even more important if your retirement nest egg has taken a serious hit in the current economic climate.
It’s a question that first came to my attention when I read Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez 10 years ago. I’m personally not wild about their financial advice, and some of the suggestions are a bit too stringent for my taste. But, they really helped me come to terms with the idea that, at the time, I was “making a dying” (meaning my work left me depleted and demoralized) instead of making a living, and helped me to simplify my life in ways that made me feel not deprived.
So before you leap into your encore career, take this one important step:
Define exactly how much money (stuff, lifestyle, etc.) is enough for you, and, then figure out how much you “have to” make. You may discover you need far less than you think.
As with many of you, money is often an issue at Retire Retirement Boot Camp. Interesting how many participants are stuck in “I like my current lifestyle exactly the way it is, thank you very much!” And, equally interesting how that conversation shifts after they’ve defined their top values.
Many participants realize that what they thought was delight in their current lifestyles, was more like zoning out in an all-too-comfortable comfort zone. When they get in touch with what is most important to them right now in their lives, they’re amazed at how much of their current lifestyle no longer fits. Then, they’re able to let go of some of their old ideas about what they really want and need, and started to get excited about the kind of encore careers that would align with their values, and give them a new, happier, simplified version of their current lives.
Ask yourself “What do I really need and want?” The answer may surprise you.
Whether we like it or not, we live in the information age. And, because we’re people of, ahem, a certain age, we’re carrying around a wealth of valuable information. What if there was a cost effective way to package your knowledge and sell it? Have you considered creating an online business?
That’s not what I set out to do when I started my coaching business eight years ago. In the past 5 years, though, I’ve become a total techno-geek. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I understand how the technology I use works, or even that I personally make it work. But, I love using it. I love the way it allows me to have fun connecting with people all over the world and creating wonderful relationships – like writing my biweekly email newsletter!
It’s also been crucial in helping me build a successful business. Without the miracle of the Internet, I most likely would not be in business today.
I owe it all to one amazing woman, Donna Gunter. She’s my virtual (she’s in Texas, I’m in Massachusetts) online business manager extraordinaire. Not only does she love the technology, but over the years she’s become an online business resource queen. And, while she’s (mostly) taken me kicking and screaming to each new technology, once there, I fall in love. Why? Because, whole new worlds are open to me, and I’m having a blast!
If you’d like to explore the possibility of starting an online business, be sure to check out this great resource: Donna’s OnlineBizU.com. Because she can only work with a handful of businesses at any given time; she created this really cool, private, members-only community for online business owners who want to get serious about Internet marketing. It’s loaded with truly everything you ever wanted to know about doing business on the Internet, including a wealth of valuable tips and resources, and over 200 information-packed, how-to articles on everything from growing a mailing list and increasing traffic to your web site to developing information products and creating passive revenue streams.
Plus, there’s a step-by-step guide to marketing your business online, member promotional forum and free monthly teleclass.
I refer all of my entrepreneur clients who want to have a strong Internet presence to OnlineBizU, and they’re always impressed with how generous Donna is with her expertise, and how quickly she helps them achieve their business goals.
One of my clients decided that her encore career would be to become the owner of an online quilting fabric company. Well, she applied what she learned at OnlineBizU to her online quilt fabrics business, and she’s light years ahead of her competition. What’s stopping you from creating your encore career online?
There are number of encore career pathways available to you as you explore what’s next after “retiring” from your current career. One of the pathways that can be truly exciting is civic engagement.
I’m not talking about traditional volunteerism. I’m talking about what Marc Freedman, author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, describes as work that combines 1) making a social impact, 2) finding personal meaning and, 3) earning continued income in the second half of life. It’s work that matters. It’s social entrepreneuring. It might surprise you to learn that that the 55-64 age group is the most active in creating new ventures; people ages 20-34 are the least entrepreneurial.
What kind of a social innovator might you be if you mixed your creativity, experience and passion with a desire to do something bigger than yourself?
For Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman, life as they’d known it irreversibly changed when their youngest son was killed on 9/11. To honor his life, Elizabeth and Stephen started the Peter C. Alderman Foundation to treat the one billion victims of trauma and terrorism around the world by creating homegrown mental health systems where violence (rape, war, kidnapping) has laid waste to communities. Elizabeth (a special education teacher) and Stephen (a doctor) have channeled their grief into a beautiful legacy for their son.
Judith Broder was so moved by a play she saw depicting the trauma that soldiers experience in war, she created The Soldiers Project. As a psychiatrist, Broder knew that, without help, some soldiers would never get past what they had seen and done, and how it affected not just their lives, but the lives of their loved ones, too. Through The Soldiers Project, Judith recruits mental health professionals who provide free, confidential, unlimited therapy to service members and their families.
Psychologist Marcy Adelman knew first-hand that many LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) seniors looking for housing and care late in life face discrimination and loneliness. She set out to provide affordable, LGBT-friendly housing and training for service providers to better support LGBT elderly. The success of her organization, Openhouse, is reflected in the dramatic improvement of mainstream services available to LGBT seniors in the San Francisco Bay area.
These four people have created extraordinary encore careers for themselves, and they epitomize the spirit of social entrepreneurship. Each has found the place where people are falling through the cracks in their communities (and around the world), and they’ve built new models for — and creative new ways of — serving.
Elizabeth, Stephen, Judith and Marcy are four of the 2009 winners of The Purpose Prize, a program of the Encore Careers campaign which aims to engage millions of baby boomers in encore careers to produce “a windfall of human talent to solve society’s greatest problems, from education to the environment, health care to homelessness”. For more information and inspiration go to www.encore.org.
I love film. I especially love films that uplift and inspire. When they’re based on a true story about a teacher who’s making a difference in students’ lives, I’m in heaven. I took a trip there recently when I had the privilege of seeing the outstanding documentary, Pressure Cooker.
Pressure Cooker is a fascinating journey to Frankford High School in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia, where teacher Wilma Stephenson teaches culinary arts. This culinary arts class does not remotely resemble the home economics classes of my childhood, nor do Mrs. Stephenson’s blunt, one-of-a-kind, in-your-face, boot camp-style teaching methods remind me of the gentle teachers who taught me how to make gelatin salads and cinnamon toast. But, boy, does Mrs. Stephenson get results.
The film follows the stories of three students who thrive over two semesters under Mrs. Stephenson’s unorthodox tutelage, and the grand finale is the awards ceremony where scholarships to the most prestigious culinary schools in the nation are handed out. Not every student has the wherewithal to survive in Mrs. Stephenson’s classroom, but those who do find themselves championed by an
extraordinary woman whose purpose, passion and commitment inspires them to exceed all expectations. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be inspired by the determination — sometimes at amazing odds — that fuels these amazing kids forward. You’ll have to see the film to see how they fare!
Granted, Wilma Stephenson has been teaching for 38 years, so you could argue that it might be time she begins looking for her own encore career. But, you’d be missing the point.
According to a MetLife Survey, 40% of college-educated adults say they would consider teaching in the future. Are you one of them?
Like the former pastry chef who teaches children to cook in a fun, party setting, while imparting real life skills. Or the retired IBM executive who’s making biology (his first love) interesting and fun for his middle school students. Consider which of your gifts you might bring to the classroom, how you could inspire young minds, and if the idea of teaching inspires you.
If you’re thinking this might be the perfect path for you, but you’re not sure and you’d like to take it for a test drive, check out Experience Corps. Experience Corps is a wonderful organization with mentoring and tutoring programs in schools around the country. You could provide literacy training for or mentor a young person at risk while you’re determining if teaching is for you.
One of the best ways to find a purpose and create meaning in our encore lives is to make a difference in someone else’s life. It helps redirect our focus away from ourselves, and can provide a wonderful sense of fulfillment. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity as a part of your encore career, here are 5 really great organizations to explore:
1. ExperienceCorp.org: Experience Corps is an award-winning national program that engages people over 55 in meeting their communities’ greatest challenges. Two thousand members of Experience Corps tutor and mentor in 23 cities across the country, providing literacy coaching, homework help, consistent role models and committed, caring attention.
Independent research has shown that Experience Corps boosts student academic performance, helps schools and youth-serving organizations become more successful, and enhances the well-being of older adults in the process. It’s a win-win-win for everyone!
2. SeniorCorps.gov: Senior Corps currently links more than 500,000 Americans to service opportunities by becoming mentors, coaches or companions to people in need or contributing their job skills and expertise to community projects and organizations.
Don’t let the “senior” word put you off, because Senior Corps does an excellent job of connecting people 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most, and offers different ways to get involved. Check out:
3. SeniorCorps.org’s RSVP Program: RSVP is NOT your father’s “Retired Senior Volunteer Program.” This new and improved version connects volunteers with service opportunities in their communities that match their skills, talents, interests and availability.
From building houses to immunizing children, from enhancing the capacity of non-profit organizations to improving and protecting the environment, RSVP volunteers put their unique talents to work to make a difference.
4. SeniorCorps.org’s Foster Grandparents Program: Foster Grandparents program connects volunteers age 60 and over with children and young people with exceptional needs. Volunteers mentor, support, and help some of the most vulnerable children in the United States.
Aggie Bennett and Louise Casey served as Foster Grandparents on the pediatric ward of Maine Medical Center for over a decade, and you can read about their extraordinary experience in Marc Freedman’s Prime Time: How Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement & Transform America.
5. VolunteerMatch.org: Volunteer Match is a terrific site for finding the perfect volunteer opportunity in your community — both ongoing and project based. Not to worry if you live in a more rural area like me. I found three Web pages filled with great volunteer openings!
If you know of an inspirational site not listed here, please let me know.
Meanwhile, may your journey discovering your ideal encore career be joyful, and may you find the perfect fit that ignites your passion, and provides purpose and pizzazz in your life!