Are retirees choosing ‘encore careers’ as the key to life-long happiness?

If you’re retired or planning to retire within the next ten years, you might already know what you’re going to do in the golden years to feel happy and fulfilled. You might be planning to garden, lay in the sun and visit with children, family members, and friends.

But for many people preparing for retirement, they don’t fully know what would make them happy in the post-65 era. Perhaps relaxing and being lazy felt fine at first, but it gets old when it makes up the bulk of every day. Maybe you miss your old job and aren’t waking up in the morning with a sense of purpose. Perhaps you haven’t decided yet what you want to do. Perhaps you think it’s time to finally do what you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you’d like to travel more than your current senior budget allows. Or maybe you’re just bored.

If this sounds like you, an encore career could be something to consider.

Why Should I Start an Encore Career?

Finances may be a worry for people planning or in retirement. The days of fully funded retirement is over for an increasing number of individuals. Pensions aren’t nearly as prevalent as they were several decades ago, and social security doesn’t cover every expense for all retired people.

Even if you’ve made plans to downsize your home or move to a cheaper area, your monthly expenses may exceed your income. Or, they may come to exceed your revenue in the future as the cost of living, such as food and utilities, gradually continues to rise.

Both finding happiness and having sufficient money in retirement are gaining a new sense of urgency because Baby Boomers are living longer than folks in retirement used to. Doctors are telling people approaching retirement they could easily live 20 years or more after working. Retirement is no longer a brief respite from work before you age and die — it’s a whole stage of life. You don’t want to run out of joie de vie or money before it’s over.

Many are taking on jobs after their pre-retirement working life is over.

Nine Possible Encore Careers to Finally Achieve Happiness at Work

If you’re unhappy, lack a sense of purpose, or are worried about finances, an encore career might be the solution for your new pensioner life. Right now, an estimated 4.5 million people between the age of 50 and 70 in the United States alone are enjoying encore careers.

What might you do in an encore career? Here are nine possibilities.

Encore Career #1: Go Part Time

One method of having an encore career is to keep the position you have, but phase it down. You might work 10 or 20 hours per week. Employers vary on whether they will allow this, but if you have one who will and you love your job, go for it.

Encore Career #2: Consult in an Area Related to Your Current Position

If your employer isn’t for you going part time, but you like the position you had for most of your working life, starting a part-time consultancy is an excellent choice. If your work lends itself to this, have business cards made, contact some clients, and you’ll be on your way.

Encore Career #3: Bring Your Expertise to a Nonprofit

There are currently 1.4 million nonprofits in the U.S., contributing 5.5 percent of the gross domestic product. Nonprofits do everything from raise funds to combat cancer to help the homeless. They almost always need help in many areas. Whether you worked in project management, recruitment, sales, or accounting, you could help virtually any nonprofit immensely. An encore career at a nonprofit often starts as a volunteer position before turning into a paid one.

Encore Career #4: Pursue a Passion

Each of us is multifaceted with many interests. Working full time and raising a family doesn’t leave much time to deal with everything we’re passionate about. Retirement can be a time to finally learn to paint, play the hammered dulcimer, or restore Shaker furniture. If you can turn that into a passion that will earn you some money, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone and finally following your passion!

Encore Career #5: Help Your Grandkids’ Generation

Do you have a gift for reading Dr. Seuss out loud? Do you make reading an important part of every day? Why not make an encore career helping children learn to read? Many schools would gladly employ a tutor who’s comfortable working with the kids, and who is mature and stable.

Encore Career #6: Work With Other Seniors

With growing numbers of people aging, gray-haired folks need trainers and coaches, as well. Many senior citizens need to take a complicated regimen of medications, for example. Medication coaches and other caregivers help them set up a plan that works long-term.

Encore Career #7: Become a Chronic-Disease Coach

Many people develop chronic diseases as they age. Someone must actively manage arthritis, diabetes and more for optimal wellness. If you have one of these diseases yourself or know about it, you could become a chronic condition coach, where you counsel people on necessary lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, and being compliant with their medication.

Encore Career #8: Go Green

Sustainable living is a significant trend. Making a sustainable living is everything from eco-friendly-building practices to repurposing or “upcycling” materials to supporting the local farmers market. This is a growing field, making it a particularly good choice for an encore career — especially if you’re already passionate about environmental consciousness and have a knack for the creativity that’s often behind it.

Encore Career #9: Give Advice to Expats

Perhaps part of your retirement planning was exploring cheaper places to live overseas. You know all about the pros and cons of Belize, Mexico, and Iceland as homes for retirees. You may have chosen to stay where you’re from, but that doesn’t mean your knowledge needs to go to waste. Share what you learned as part of your encore career.

Whether it’s for reasons relating to happiness, a sense of purpose, or just plain financial need, older people are increasingly turning to encore careers. Choose one of these nine suggestions, and you’ll be sure to enjoy life in the golden years.

Much of the Happy Melly community are solopreneurs and creative workers, most likely to fall back on or jump into encore careers. Should you start thinking about this possibility ahead? How do you view encore careers play into your future or present?

Photo Credits, from Upslash free stock images (in order as they appear):

  • Timothy Paul Smith
  • Elena Saharova
  • Nathan Anderson
  • Jeff Sheldon
  • Eberhard Grossgasteiger (featured)

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