The word “career” actually has nothing to do with some job — it comes from the Old French carriére for “racecourse.” So your career is the course you’re following — what you do with your attention and your action. (Maybe in this day and age that means a lot of people are making a career out of social media participation, but I digress.)
Across the seam of any transition in life, be it college graduation, marriage, or retirement, we all need to have a sense of where we’re headed and why we’re doing what we’re doing.
An Identity Above And Beyond Your Job
One of the great life lessons from my own career as an executive coach and end-of-life planner is that none of us needs to be defined by our jobs. We’re husbands, mothers, neighbors, friends, et cetera, and the values and behaviors that inform those relationships across many decades are what really define our identities and give us our sense of purpose.
Jobs pay us for our time and often do constitute a career when we invest ourselves personally in them, but we get to go above and beyond that paycheck. The transition to retirement is an opportunity to redefine the course of our lives, our careers, consistent with the identity we idealize. Some of us will need it to include income, and some of us will have other priorities.
Ignore The Four-Letter Thing: Work Isn’t A Dirty Word
Working in retirement has a variety of benefits, not the least of which is compensation. There’s no shame in working because you need a paycheck, because you are interested in learning new things, because you like being with people, or because you enjoy contributing in a particular way to society.
As the Silver Tsunami of retirees transitions to new ways to apply their skills, contribute their gifts, and focus their attention, it will represent a continuation of the tremendous multiplication of the ways we work. Having nothing to do provides a nice respite from time to time, but then we’re ready to do stuff.
How to Approach Your Next Career And Maximize The Benefits Of Retirement
Carry out these seven steps to clarify the new career path you may not have realized you’re already on, and to design your work to work for you.
1. What Income Do You Need?
Really do the math. How much money, if any, do you want to bring in? Here’s the MSN Money retirement calculator to help you.
2. Name Your Deal Breakers
Make a list of what you do not want to do, whether it’s because you’re sick and tired of it (even if you’re good at it), or it’s just unappealing.
3. Make A List Of Your Active Interests
Into what do you invest the greatest amount of your time and attention, as measured in thinking, conversation time, and actually doing things? Be honest with yourself about what you pay attention to, including things like web surfing real estate. There will be a handful of them. Consider which of them you most want to stand by as a matter of who you are and what you do.
4. Identify Your Priorities
Make a list of the five biggest priorities you want to accomplish between now and the end of your life. You can call this your Career Bucket List, which could include anything from increasing time with the grandkids to learning a new skill. Now rank those five priorities.
5. Cross-Reference Your Thinking
Compare your lists. Is there anything from entry 2 that conflicts with entries 3 and 4? What item(s) appeared in both 3 and 4 that warrant elevation?
6. Get Creative
Time to brainstorm! Generate 10 activities, however zany and impractical they might seem, in keeping with your themes in Step 5.
7. Decide And Communicate
Nothing accelerates our progress like explaining ourselves to others. It makes us crystalize our thoughts into something comprehensible — and also propels us into accountability for action. What’s gonna be your next step, and who should know about it?
Inspiration Is Key
The benefits of contributing and participating in society are sometimes more felt than seen. As spiritual animals, people have a deep need for purpose. Activities are good; inspired activities are great! Identify the purpose genuinely attracting your attention (heed the call), and follow that course of action to fulfilling work in retirement.
Need more inspiration? Consider 5 Ways To Make Retirement A Reality, Even If You’re Short On Savings and 8 Opportunities To Make Extra Income In Retirement.