Three Steps to Take You from Now to Encore Career WOW

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.

Top Six Encore Career Resolutions for Spring

Spring has definitely sprung in the Northeast: the weather is warming, days are longer, and it’s time for a fresh start. Have your encore career plans been hibernating for too long? Are you ready for a new approach to moving your life forward? Consider these spring resolutions to jump start your encore career:

1. Make Space. Clean the cobwebs out of your mind and your heart by de-cluttering your physical environment first. You’ll be amazed at how much space you’ll create in your life for new things to come in – ideas, people, opportunities – when you tackle the “piles of stuff” before anything else.

2. Energize. Of course, eating good food, moving your body, getting enough rest are great energizers. But, have you tried improving your attitude? Don’t discount the power of a positive outlook. When you find yourself worried about the future, or afraid of the change that’s coming, simply shift your perspective to one that feels better.

For instance, you can turn “I’m afraid that my money won’t outlast me” into “There are lots of creative ways for me to make money and enjoy life, and I’m going to have fun finding them!” How do each of those statements make you feel? Go for the one that fuels you forward, and leave the one that paralyzes you behind.

3. Try Something New. Go ahead — just for the fun of it! When my clients want a change, they often try to figure it out in their heads, instead of tapping into their hearts. I recommend they stop thinking about what “it” might be, and make a list of fun, thrilling, exciting things they’ve always wanted to do.

When Jane stopped trying to figure it out and made her list, she started by taking a trapeze lesson. Not on my top ten list, but it’s something she’d wanted to do for years. By the time she finished #2 on her list – parachuting from an airplane – the idea for her “what’s next” business just came to her fully formed. When Jane shifted her focus to something 180 degrees from work, her creative juices were free to bubble up from deep within.

4. Explore All Options. But, only the ones that feel right. Now is not the time to do what’s expected, or what conventional wisdom says you should do, or take the path of least resistance. Where are all the places you might live? What are the many ways you might make a contribution? What do you love to do that can be incorporated into your new life?

5. Think Big. Let yourself go way out there as you think about the possibilities of what might be next for you. No dinky thinking allowed! The sky’s the limit. You can always bring your ideas down a little closer to earth if you have to. It’s impossible to create an idea worth pursing when it’s scrunched up in a tiny ball on the ground.

6. Pursue That Dream. You know you have one. Uncover it. Dust it off. Breathe some life into it. You’ve got nothing to lose by exploring it. Make sure you understand the essence of the dream because the original package may no longer fit, but you could have the essence of your dream in a brand new package.

Remember, your encore career can be everything you want it to be. With a little bit of spring cleaning and your resolve to have this transition be different, you’ll be on your way to your ideal encore career – and life!

Eight Key Sites to Inspire Your Encore Career

Whether you want to (or have to) continue working, or you’re set financially and eager to donate your time, wisdom, experience and resources to a cause that you find worthy, don’t waste this opportunity to create your ideal encore career. Here are my picks for the top eight websites where you’ll find information and inspiration (not listed in any particular order):

1. Encore Careers: http://www.encore.org/
Not interested in endless years of leisure? Want to resurrect your youthful idealism and put it to work for the greater good? Is having an income still an important part of your financial picture?

Encore promotes careers that combine personal fulfillment, social impact and continued income, enabling people to put their passion to good use in real jobs tackling real problems and that make a real impact.

A 2008 Civic MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures survey found that more than 5 million people ages 44 to 70 have begun encore careers. Of those not already in encore careers, half say they want them. Are you one of them?

2. AARP Working Options: http://www.aarp.org/money/careers/
Are you changing careers, job hunting, or thinking about starting your own business? You’ll find a terrific collection of resources for workers 50+ here. It’s a constantly changing, evolving, potpourri of timely information.

3. Best 50+ Employers: http://www.aarp.org/money/work/best_employers/
If you’re job hunting, you’ll definitely want to check out this site which is updated annually. And, if you’re thinking about moving abroad, take a look at the best international employers list.

4. Vocation Vacations: http://www.vocationvacations.com
Have an idea of what you’d like to be doing, but don’t have a clue if you’d really like it? What if you could immerse yourself in this job on your next vacation? What would it be like to test drive your dream job and see if it’s worthy of going the distance?

Now you can at Vocation Vacations. Experience any career from winemaker and TV broadcaster to B&B owner and shoe designer, usually priced from one to three days. How cool is that?

5. Bizstarters.com: http://www.bizstarters.com
Are you an entrepreneur at heart, age 50+? Do you have a great idea for your own business? Could you use some solid guidance?

I highly recommend The Ultimate Boomer Business Start-Up Guide. Owner Jeff Williams is a living, breathing example of a successful 50+ entrepreneur. He’s been there and done that and can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Bizstarters loves helping entrepreneurial Boomers successfully launch and run their own small businesses by combining a disciplined planning process, a shared community, carefully selected products and services, a committed interactive dialogue, and a sincere desire to witness successfully launched businesses.

6. OnlineBizU.com: http://www.onlinebizu.com
Want to own your own business, but want the freedom of being able to go where you want, when you want? What if you could take what you know and market it on the Internet in a successful virtual business?

Donna Gunter has taken her wealth of Internet marketing knowledge, her thirst for staying on top of the latest Internet marketing trends, and her desire to help Boomers create meaningful, successful, thriving Internet businesses, and created a must-see website for everything you need to know about creating a thriving online business.

7. Experience Corps: http://www.experiencecorps.org/index.cfm
This award-winning national program, engages people over 55 in meeting their communities’ greatest challenges. Two thousand (2000) 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 shows 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!

8. Volunteer Match: http://www.volunteermatch.org
This is a terrific site for finding the perfect volunteer opportunity – both ongoing and project based – in your community. Not to worry if you live in a more rural area. I do, too, and 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!

6 Truths About Choosing the Encore Career of Your Dreams

You’re leaving your current career behind, either because it’s time to move on or you’ve been retired before you’re ready. You want to (or have to) continue to work. You can’t imagine spending the next decade or more doing more of what you’ve been doing. You like the idea of an encore career, but you’re not sure exactly what an encore career is. Here’s the 411 on encore careers. They:

1. Are Not the Same Old Same Old. Tell the truth. How many times in your current career have you chosen the next logical step or the path of least resistance whether it felt right or not? How long has it been since you felt truly challenged and exhilarated by your work? Have you ever?

Think of your encore career as a giant step away from what you’ve been doing, especially if what you’ve been doing no longer pulls you out of bed each morning. Let go of the way you’ve always gone about finding what’s next, and come at it from a brand new angle. An encore career should be fresh, exhilarating, and engaging.

2. Require You to Think (Way) Outside the Box. Don’t just take the lid off the box you’re in, actually step out of — and then get rid of — it altogether. This is the perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself in a way that (maybe for the first time in your life) is a purest expression of your authentic self. You can’t do that if you’re trapped inside a box that no longer fits who you are, where you want to be, and what you want to be doing. Be bold in your approach, and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.

3. Are Fulfilling. Have you ever been so fully engaged in an activity (for me it’s working on a mosaic project) that you completely lose track of time? Remember how much fun you were having; how filled to overflowing you felt? That’s the feeling you’re going for in an encore career.

You will be fulfilled in your encore career because it will satisfy your deepest desires and be aligned with what you value most at this time of your life. You know what it’s like to be unfulfilled in your work. You don’t need to go there again.

4. Are Meaningful. What’s the purpose of an encore career? It’s simple: to give you a purpose, a reason for living. An encore career should move your soul and touch your heart because you’re living the life you’re meant to be living. Only then will you find the meaning you’re yearning for.

5. Make a Contribution. This is a vital part of an encore career. It’s not about working for the sake of working. It’s not even about working for the sake of making money (although you may need to). It’s about making a difference on the planet. And, since you’ve gotten rid of the box and are thinking bigger and bolder than ever before, you’ll discover that there are lots of different ways to make a difference.

Of course, you could use your abundance of talent to help solve one of the abundance of problems we face in the 21st century. You could also start a business that employs people in your community, while providing a product or service that improves people’s lives. You might write books that inform or create works of art that inspire. Expand your thinking to explore all the different ways you can make a contribution.

6. Can Be Lucrative. If you’re set financially and want to volunteer your time and your talent to a worthy cause, great. If your retirement nest egg has taken a hit, or wasn’t that big to begin with, and it’s important to make good money — get creative. There are lots of ways to make money, make a difference, have a purpose and live your values. You’ll have to let go of your dinky thinking and those stinky old limiting beliefs that will only hold you back. But, it’ll be worth it.

Getting a different picture of what an encore career really is? Excited about the possibilities? Give yourself permission to retire the part of your life – your work — that no longer fits, and embark on the encore career of your dreams!

Boomer Job Search: Confidently Create Your Encore Career

Okay. You’re not as young as you used to be. The job market is shrinking along with your 401k. You need to keep working.

If you’ve been downsized (or if you know deep in your soul that you just can’t keep doing what you’re doing), does the prospect of looking for a job make you want to run screaming from the room? Is one of your major concerns your age? Don’t buy into the conventional wisdom that you’re “over the hill”, over qualified, and unemployable. I guarantee you, if your age is a problem for you, it will be a problem for any prospective employer.

In my early 40s, I wanted to break into local television production in a major market city. I did my round of interviewing for an internship. Honestly, it never occurred to me that my age would be a barrier. I was floored when a 22-year old male production assistant at the FOX station asked me if I wasn’t “a little long in the tooth” to be changing careers.

I looked him square in the eye, and told him that I’d been on his side of the desk, and if I had my choice between hiring a 20-something more interested in her Saturday night date than the work, and me who had 20 years of solid work experience to bring to the table, I’d hire me in a heart beat. I was offered – and turned down – the internship.

Okay, you say. That was in your 40s; being in your 50s or 60s is different. Not so. My 63-year-old client Darlene lost her job when the major financial institution she worked for closed down her entire division, and with it her lucrative sales job. Instead of panicking, she took some much-needed R&R for a few months. When she was recharged, she jumped into her job search with much gusto, and gave not one thought to her age. She set up four job interviews in two weeks, received two job offers, and is a valued member of her new sales team.

It’s all about what YOU believe, and how that projects to others. If you’re worried about your age, you’ll reek of a lack of confidence. If you believe in your abilities, experience, resources, and wisdom, you’ll convey utter confidence. Who would you rather hire?

And remember, there’s no such thing as being “over the hill”. When you reach the top of each hill, what’s waiting for you is your next great adventure!

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