Mention the word “retirement” and it often stirs up conflicting emotions. On the one hand, we yearn to be free from the constant demands and stress of the daily “rat race.” But we also fear the potential monotony associated with suddenly going from sixty to zero overnight, as images of backyard Adirondack chairs, golfing, gardening and a host of repetitive activities dance in our heads.
Perhaps that’s why a 2015 Franklin Templeton survey found that more than half of adults age 50 or older plan to continue working well beyond age 65, with most indicating a desire to pursue a second career rather than continuing in their current job.
For many, an encore career in retirement provides a much-needed additional source of income. Perhaps more importantly, however, it affords a unique opportunity to remain engaged and active – whether reconnecting with a lifelong passion such as art or music, or bringing your diverse skills to those in need through teaching, advocacy or nonprofit work.
As average life expectancy has continued to rise over the years, the typical 10-15 year retirement of decades past has today been supplanted by 20-30 year retirements that include substantially healthier and more active lives. What will you do with those extra years and how will you pay for them? The following are just a few second career ideas to get the creative juices flowing and help you start thinking about the next phase of life:
- Nonprofit work – perhaps the idea of applying your technical and/or managerial skills to serving society rather than shareholders appeals to you. There are a wide range of nonprofits – organizations that feed, clothe and shelter those in need, environmental and social advocacy groups, arts and cultural institutions, and many more. Many of these nonprofits welcome the wisdom of experienced professionals like you.
- Business coaching/consulting – who better to guide future business leaders than someone who has been in the trenches and seen it all? Your insights and accumulated knowledge are valuable commodities that can serve as the foundation for a lucrative second career as a coach/consultant.
- Teaching – whether you aspire to make a difference in the lives of younger, disadvantaged inner city youth or to bring your business, science, engineering or computer science to a nearby community college, practical experience is in high demand at a variety of educational institutions. While the compensation may not be life-changing, the flexible schedule can be ideal for a retiree and the personal rewards of teaching can be immensely fulfilling.
- Home healthcare – for those who come from careers in the healthcare profession (or those willing to obtain additional training/education), one of the highest demand and fastest-growing career areas as Baby Boomers continue to age will be home healthcare. Both home health aide and nursing careers provide flexible scheduling, lots of personal interaction, and an opportunity to make a genuine difference in the lives of others.
- Real estate – minimal training, flexible schedules, a career centered on your community and your connections, and potentially lucrative commissions can make real estate sales an ideal second act for personable and socially engaged retirees. It’s a career where your age and experience can provide a distinct advantage and heightened sense of trustworthiness
Whether your primary goal is to augment guaranteed sources of retirement income to fund a better lifestyle, or to stay more actively engaged and give back to your community, a second career in retirement can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor. Shedding the corporate yoke doesn’t mean having to disconnect from the world. Retirement provides a unique opportunity not only to rediscover what you love but to reinvent who you are.