(By Nancy Collamer)
“Most people have a far easier time knowing what they don’t want as opposed to what they do want. Of course, dispensing with all those work-related annoyances you’ve put up with for years is hardly a negative. In fact, it’s liberating when you no longer have to do things like wake up at the crack of dawn, suffer through a two-hour commute, deal with long business trips or contend with an irritating boss.“
If you’re thinking about working during retirement, the choices surrounding how, when and where you work can feel both exhilarating and overwhelming. There are so many factors to weigh, including how many hours per week you will work, whether it’s better to start a business or work for someone else and if you will be bored if you work from home.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, you might find it helps to identify your lifestyle goals before deciding what you will do for your second act career. Once you gain clarity about your lifestyle vision, then it becomes much easier to zero-in on the types of businesses, income streams and jobs that are truly your best fit.
To help you better understand your retirement lifestyle vision, here are five key questions to consider. Following each question you will find an action item to help you get on your way.
1. What do you look forward to not doing in retirement? Most people have a far easier time knowing what they don’t want as opposed to what they do want. Of course, dispensing with all those work-related annoyances you’ve put up with for years is hardly a negative. In fact, it’s liberating when you no longer have to do things like wake up at the crack of dawn, suffer through a two-hour commute, deal with long business trips or contend with an irritating boss.
Action item: Think about the things that irritate you most about work. Then write down at least five things you hope to avoid doing during your second act career.
2. Why do you want to work in retirement? Just as you have your pet peeves about working, there are undoubtedly many things you find rewarding about work. The benefits of work extend far beyond a paycheck and benefits (although that certainly is important). Work makes us feel useful and provides a sense of purpose. It gives a routine and structure to our days. It keeps us intellectually engaged. And for many of us, our colleagues and co-workers play a big role in our social lives.
Studies show that work is beneficial for our physical and mental health as well. A 2013 Institute of Economics Affairs study suggests retirement increases the likelihood of suffering from clinical depression by 40 percent and the chance of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by about 60 percent.
Action item: Make a list of the top five reasons you want to continue working into retirement.
3. What type of work schedule is best for your second act? Surveys indicate that the vast majority of boomers want to work on a more flexible basis during semi-retirement. Fortunately, there are many different ways to incorporate flexibility into work. You could work on a part-time, project, seasonal or temp basis. You might pursue a small side gig or choose to work as a full-time contractor part of the year, and then take summers off.
Action item: Write down the types of work arrangements that appeal to you going forward, such as seasonal, work from home, temp a few months each year or part-time on weekends. As you play around with the options, you’ll find there are lots of different ways to customize your work schedule to fit into your lifestyle vision.
4. What types of activities do you want to include in your career/life mix? A second act career is the perfect opportunity to spend more time on the activities you most enjoy. Whether you’re an aspiring writer who hopes to publish your memoirs, a history buff who wants to work at a local museum or an amateur chef itching to spend more time in the food world, now is the time to find (or create) work that allows you to do more of what you truly enjoy.
Action item: Make a list of at least 10 types of activities you’d like to include in your work life. This list can include skills like writing, organizing and speaking, activities such as travel, going to conferences and attending lectures, and hobbies including painting, woodworking and cooking that you’d like to blend into your next act.
5. Who are the people you want to work with or for? Finally, think about the type of people you want to engage with during your second act. It’s amazing how even the most mundane job can be fun when your co-workers and colleagues are people you enjoy and admire. Of course, other work-related factors like salary, job duties and industry focus impact your happiness. But the people part of our work affects us far more than most of us care to admit.
Action item: Make a list of at least five types of people, such as children, seniors and new graduates, or personality traits, including lively, creative and intellectual, you’d most enjoy working around during semi-retirement.
Now that you’ve identified your lifestyle goals, keep this list handy. It will be a helpful reference point when evaluating second act career ideas as you move forward.
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