In general we think that getting old has many more downsides than upsides what with declining health, reduced relevance, and being closer to death perhaps among the most egregious. And as has been noted many times in the past few years, the rapid and widespread ejection of many older workers from the workforce has left many feeling depressed and inconsequential at what they feel is a premature conclusion to their careers.
Aging and career do not have to be oil and water. Rather let’s view the career of the mature worker as being in need of serious reform as they look toward a future in which work can still be engaging, satisfying, and lucrative. Fortunately one of the great advantages of aging is a growing realization to make one’s remaining years count more than ever before. This can be a powerful motivator to approach life and career with renewed vigor.
A process to reestablish a derailed career later in life begins by accepting that the old rules for finding work do not apply much anymore. Looking for job postings that may be a fit is largely wasted time. Instead direct yourself toward conducting a thorough self-assessment. Identify all those traits, skills, qualifications, and most importantly experiences, which when combined define you as a valuable asset. Leave nothing out from this list. And if needed query those who know you well to see how they perceive you.
At this point reflect on this rich inventory with the goal of selecting what Dick Bolles, the author of the perennial What Color Is Your Parachute, elegantly calls your favorite skills and your favorite experiences. It is at this point this cognitive exercise invites in the emotional realm. By recognizing the most energizing of what you have done and can still do you appreciate what is possible in your future work.
Making the most of your remaining work years is made possible by acting on your strengths. We don’t have to accept a bitter end to our working years. Alternatively we can construct a career made meaningful by capitalizing on the best of what we have to offer. But a significant part of doing so involves remembering those changed rules I mentioned earlier. There is a good chance the best of you may not fit neatly into a single job for which an employer will compensate you.
Multiple income streams result from orchestrating a variety of work lines that together make up your favorite performance characteristics. Investigating and implementing various means of monetizing your sweet spots can lead to a satisfying hybrid career.
There are some things to keep in mind about patching together multiple income streams. For example, you need to remain quite flexible in dovetailing your diversified ventures. Determining what can be scaled up and down due to parameters of time, money, and energy will place you in the role of being your own career choreographer. And achieving a degree of sustainability with each stream may take time, but think how rewarding it will be when you get there. Having this new career be enjoyable is what it’s all about. This life puts a new twist into the notion of being your own boss.
We started this reframing of career for the mature worker by administering a self-assessment. There is no better time to reflect on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come than near the end of our “productive” years. Now is the time to give ourselves permission to approach life with a different flavor and approach than has been done before. Allow yourself to feel free, mix it up, and experiment. Benefit from all you’ve accomplished. Exhilarate at being at the top of your game.