Your parents and grandparents might have worked at the same company for their entire careers. Today, that kind of longevity is increasingly rare. Some people are forced into a new career by the ebb and flow of the global economy. Others decide to change jobs in order to improve their financial situations. And still others think that finding a new job, jumping into the “gig economy,” or starting their own company will improve their Return on Life.
Whatever your reasons might be for starting a second act career, these three considerations are going to be key to a successful work transition.
1. What type of work you do
One common reason that people voluntarily switch careers is that they don’t feel their current job puts their skills and expertise to their highest uses. You might be good at several things professionally. But what are you BEST at? What part of your job do you enjoy the most? What’s a skill you’d like to develop through education or training? What job would allow you to combine your highest skills with the things that interest you?
Feelings of fulfilment are also important when considering the type of work you do. But be realistic. Very few people love absolutely everything about their work. Nonprofit and educational jobs have plenty of challenges and frustrations too. Now imagine those frustrations compounded by lower pay and worse benefits than you have right now. Is there another job at your current company where you could flourish?
2. Whom you work with
A growing body of research shows that the people we work with have an even greater impact on how we feel about work than the actual work we do. Moving out of a grumpy or toxic work environment to a company with a more positive culture could take your own professional development to another level.
On the other hand, if you have good relationships at your current company, leaving that network behind can be jarring. Even a new executive is still “the new guy.” Connecting with a whole new group of people will come easier to some older workers than others.
Finally, many workers want to set up shop solo in their home office as a full-time telecommuter or self-employed contractor. Some people do well in this kind of self-paced, distraction-free environment. Others will become too personally and professionally isolated. You might not think you need other people to plug numbers into spreadsheets or design a marketing poster. But people are social creatures. Our interactions with each other broaden our perspectives and inspire us to do more creative and more fulfilling work.
3. How much flexibility you want
On the other hand, self-employment and “gig economy” work do provide one benefit that more and more older workers are prioritizing: flexible hours and work environments.
When you can complete some work tasks at on your own schedule, you have more control over balancing personal and professional responsibilities. This might be particularly important if you have children and grandchildren. Get up early to finish that marketing report in your home office while you’re eating breakfast, and you might be able to attend your daughter’s afternoon soccer game without missing a beat at work.
Many employers have started recognising how attractive flexible work hours are to top talent. This might be another instance where you could make a better job for yourself at your current employer. Or perhaps the rigidity of your company’s work environment is one of the reasons you’re looking elsewhere in the first place.
Better yet: maybe after years of following someone else’s schedule, it’s time for you to start deciding who does what and when. Could the best new career for you be CEO … of your own company?
These are just some of the issues surrounding a second act career that we have helped our clients navigate. Once you and your spouse/partner have discussed a potential career transition, make an appointment to visit us. We’ll help you analyse how this change could affect your Lifeline and discuss some potential adjustments that will help you get the best life possible with the work you do and the money you have.