Contrary to popular belief, life does have second acts. And if you’re nearing retirement and want — or need — to continue working, there’s some good news: You can leverage the knowledge and experience of your first career into a new one that can generate the income you need and be personally fulfilling at the same time.
Here are five tips to help you find and prepare for the right second career:
1. Start thinking about your second career now. No matter when you plan to retire from your current job, it’s never too early to start thinking about your life “2.0.” In fact, the longer time frame you have to plan, the better. If you’re serious about a specific area, take a class, volunteer, or offer to help out for free to get exposure to that business or industry.
2. Take stock of your goals and objectives. Take time to step back from the rat race and think about what you want to do in the future. What is important to you? What are you naturally gifted at? Do you want to work for yourself? Do you want to make a positive difference with your work? Your second career should be strongly connected to your inner desires and goals. Even if you don’t have the experience in that area yet, don’t despair. As the saying goes, if you want something badly enough, you’ll make it happen.
3. Start cleaning up the clutter. When it comes time to segue to a second career, it will be a lot easier if your life is in order. Start paying down debt, and make sure your credit score is strong. Consider small lifestyle changes that will reduce stress and increase peace and organization in your life.
4. Get and stay healthy. It’s true: When you are physically fit, you have more energy and are mentally sharper to face the challenges ahead. Starting a second career will take an incredible amount of energy, both mental and physical. Start getting in shape now for your future career.
5. Get out there and network. The best way to find your second career — the one that’s right for you — is to start networking, meeting people, asking questions and getting exposure to the fields that interest you. If floral design is your thing, offer to volunteer on Saturdays at a flower shop to learn the trade. Take advantage of social networking pages that focus on your fields of choice. Read books on it. Take one small action every day toward your goal.
Claire Damgaard is an agent with New York Life Insurance Company in Dubuque.