A note from Jackie: Nancy Collamer is an expert when it comes to career reinvention. Not only is she the mastermind behind My Lifestyle Career, but she recently published her book Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. She will be next week’s BSR Broadcast guest, and I’m thrilled that she has agreed to share some tips in advance of the show. This post originally appeared here on her blog.
Hard as it is for me to believe, today marks exactly one year since the publication of Second-Act Careers. Wow, what a journey! Thank you to everyone who bought the book, recommended it to friends, attended my talks and wrote such generous reviews. I am truly grateful for your kind feedback and support.
One of my favorite chapters in the book, 10 Reinvention Lessons Learned, highlights why some people reinvent successfully, while others struggle to find their calling. The lessons remain as valid today as when I originally wrote them.
But in honor of the book’s one year anniversary, I wanted to add a few more tips to supplement the original list. So with thanks for the insights provided by the many people who shared their stories at my book talks, as well as those I interviewed for my career column on NextAvenue.org, here are five more reinvention tips to consider:
1.) Don’t expect to fully “reinvent”: While the concept of “reinvention” is tantalizing (think: “fresh slate” “unrealized dreams” etc.), most people don’t construct a new career from scratch at midlife. The stories you read about the accountant turned cattle rancher – or the doctor turned vineyard owner – make for great press, but they are the exception, not the norm. In reality, most people choose a second-act career that is in some small way, shape or form related to what they did before. They figure out which parts of their old career they most enjoy (skills, people, industry, etc.) and then blend the “old” pieces with “new” interests, hobbies, and passions. By doing so, they are able to leverage their years of experience – while still getting the benefits of a more lifestyle-friendly career.
2.) Take a break: Understandably, many people want to be able to “retire” from their old jobs and immediately launch into something new. But sometimes the best thing they can do to help this process along is to build some distance in between the old and the new. There is “power in the pause.” So don’t feel guilty if you want to take a break and enjoy a few months of travel after leaving the big job. Exhale and relax. The time away will enable you to refresh your batteries, gain perspective and daydream, without the pressure of the clock ticking. Then, when you’re ready to turn your thoughts back to your second-act career planning, you’ll likely find the reinvention process easier and more enjoyable then before.
3.) Surround yourself with positivity: It is incredibly easy to become paralyzed by the constant barrage of negative media messages: “You’re too old.” “Nobody wants to hire people over 50.” “There are no jobs for older workers.” Sound familiar? If you want to succeed in planning a second-act career, you need to actively tune-out these messages, and instead surround yourself with positive people and messaging. How? Make it a habit to read inspirational second-act stories on sites like WorkReimagined.com, NextAvenue.org and Huffpost50.com. Go to a conference where you can meet other people interested in doing what you’d like to do. Team -up with a reinvention buddy. Most importantly, limit the time you spend with the “Debbie Downers” and “Dougie Doubters” in your life. The more hours you enjoy with energetic and supportive people, the better off you’ll be.
4.) Stop Pooh-Poohing Technology: It pains me to say this, but I’ve been disheartened by the number of older people I’ve met during this past year who are resistant to learning technology. I appreciate that fear – technology can be intimidating. But in our techno-centric world, you are going to be seriously disadvantaged if you insist that communication must take place by telephone or that you’re too old to learn how to create a website (which you can now do using one of the super easy templates available for free on the web). So please, do yourself a favor and make it a point to at least learn the basics of sites like Twitter and tools like texting. The learning curve can be challenging, but the payoff will be well worth it.
5.) When stuck, remember action trumps analysis. When you aren’t clear about what’s next, sometimes the best thing to do is to get out of your head and take action: volunteer, take a class or offer to help a friend with a project (Here’s a link to a very helpful post I wrote on NextAvenue about how you can quietly test-drive a new career). You’ll be amazed by how much you’ll learn by doing. As Richard Pascale notes in Surfing the Edge of Chaos: “Adults are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking than to think their way into a new way of acting.”
Thanks again for making the first year of Second-Act Careers so successful. I look forward to supporting and hearing about your second-act career plans in the year to come!
Nancy Collamer is a speaker, career coach, and author. She writes a semi-monthly career column for NextAvenue.org (PBS) and Forbes.com, and will be next week’s BSR Broadcast guest. You’ll be able to stream or download her interview on Wednesday afternoon right here on the Better, Smarter, Richer blog!