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How to Design Your Encore Career


If you’re like millions of other Americans in the twilight of their careers, you may be thinking about switching up your career and current job. While the desire for a paycheck is a key driver for some, it is the pursuit of a purpose and a passion that drives most people into an “encore career.”  

The charge to create encore careers is being led by the tens of millions of Baby Boomers who are crossing into retirement each year. Not content to sit back and relax 24/7, today’s retirees are following their ambitions for making a difference – in their own lives as well as the lives of others. So, the question becomes, “How does one go about designing an encore career?”

It’s about “Forgotten Dreams and Hidden Passions”

If it was just about changing jobs or careers, you would probably know what to do because you have been there and done that. But, it’s really about following a dream and allowing your passion to guide you. That is unfamiliar territory for most people. Pursuing an encore career is like “going rogue”, which can be exciting yet daunting. It’s about taking some risks, confronting your challenges and making some life changing decisions. But, what good is it if it doesn’t lead to your vision. You need to know where you want to be and why, to understand if the risks are worth taking.

Allowing your passion to come out will not only help you crystallize your vision, it will enable you to achieve it. In each of us there exists a superior ability, some special talent or skill that we’re so passionate about we want to use it as much as possible. It energizes us and the people around us. The challenge is finding it and fulfilling it. When you do, it will be the key to your fulfillment in life.

As a first step towards an encore career, make a list of the things you have always thought about doing and the talents and abilities you have that you enjoy using the most. See if some of them are already making other people money and research this avenue. If not, can it be made into something that can provided additional income?

Where will your passion take you?

If you have already found your dream or purpose, you may already know how you plan to pursue it. If you haven’t, or you are still searching for ideas, start with what is readily available to you.

Volunteer: If money is not a concern for you, the very best way to utilize your unique skills and talents is through volunteering. There could be dozens of opportunities right in your community, whether it is mentoring high school students, coaching young entrepreneurs, or helping a non-profit group create an efficient back office operation. The choice is really yours.

Monetize a hobby: You may have never considered that a hobby you enjoy could also make you money. It almost doesn’t matter what it is – if it is something you enjoy, you can turn it into a business or career. With the advent of the Internet, people skilled in photography, crafts, and writing can take their efforts are far as they want in order to make a living while following their passions.

Start a non-profit business: If you spend your entire career in the for-profit corporate world, maybe now is the time to apply your valuable knowledge and skills in the non-profit world. Instead of pursuing material wealth, you can focus on creating shared economic value in your community.

In designing your encore career, you are only limited by the clarity of your dreams and passions, and your creativity. Unlike your working career, your future encore career is a blank canvas waiting to be painted with your own ambition. Make your encore career the best career you’ve had.