I had an interesting conversation with a woman at a networking event recently. She’s 58, doesn’t want to retire in the traditional sense, but wants to create an encore career that is more aligned with who she is at this stage in her life.
Problem is she was pumping me for a checklist of things she could “do” to make the next career happen. She wanted practical, hands-on, tools to take her from where she is now to what’s next. She was looking for the externals like resume writing and job search websites for people 50+.
Now, those tools are helpful, but they’re not what you’ll most need to get started in creating the encore career of your dreams. Your inner desires, yearnings, passions, likes, dislikes — and those long-buried dreams — are what you’ll want to start with. They’ll lead you to the real, authentic you. They’ll lay a foundation that will allow you to bring all of who you are to what’s next, and help you find your true purpose. I can tell you from first-hand experience it doesn’t get any better than that.
So, as you consider your encore career, youll want to figure out:
1. WHO you are. Creating work that you love depends on taking the time to get to know yourself– the real you — not the person who couldn’t bring the best parts of herself to work everyday. What do you value? What do you love to do? What lights you up and makes your heart sing? What challenges you and gets your juices going? What parts of your personality is it time to free up? Imagine your life exactly the way you want it, then ask yourself who do you have to be to live that life? Then, do what you have to do to become that person.
2. WHAT you want to do. When I ask people contemplating what’s next, the answer is most often a resounding “I don’t know!” But, those same people, when asked what they don’t want, can give me a laundry list a mile long. So, here’s a very simple — but powerful — process for beginning to define what you want.
Make a list of everything you know you definitely don’t want in your life. Include situations, people, places, and circumstances. Add everything that no longer works for you in your current career. Then add all those things that you worry about or make you anxious, concerned or afraid.
When you feel like you’ve gotten it all out, start a new page, and one-by-one re-write each statement into the present, and in the positive. For instance, “I hate being chained to a desk all day and being isolated from people” might be re-framed to “I go interesting places and meet interesting people all day every day.” Once you’ve completed this exercise, you’ll have a jump start list of what you want in your life.
You can continue to build on your list, by answering questions like:
- What are the things you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t?
- What are things you love to do, but haven’t for a really long time?
- What are the things that you think you might love, and would like to try?
Remember, these do not have to be “work” related to make it on your list.
Next, you’ll want to research possibilities and start trying some things on for size until you gain clarity about what’s next.
3. HOW you’ll get there. Finally, you’re ready to plug in and use those external tools by creating a step-by-step plan that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. Make sure to chunk it down into small enough pieces so you won’t go into overwhelm.
As you can see, the externals come AFTER you’ve down the internal work. It’s the internal work that will assure that you won’t create more of the same-old-same-old, but a life and work that truly lights you up.