For most of us, when we envision the end of a career there is one word in particular that comes to mind: retirement. Historically, Americans have equated the end of a successful professional life with retirement plans, whether that might involve moving someplace warmer or quieter, or simply spending more time at home relaxing.
But more and more often, those transitioning out of careers are bypassing retirement and instead seeking more meaningful work. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle recently featured a book titled “The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life”; the text serves as a comprehensive guide for those seeking fulfillment in their next phase of life. Authored by Marci Alboher, career expert and vice president of Encore.com, this book offers readers numerous success stories from individuals who have pursued a late career shift.
Brooklynite Masha Hamilton is one such example: she and David Orr, both journalists, transformed their Brooklyn brownstone into a bed-and-breakfast, ultimately enabling Hamilton to explore her interest in working as a novelist and nonprofit executive director.
Suwon Smith, another Brooklyn resident, decided to reassess her career once her children were grown and independent. In her mid-50s, Smith was working 12 hour days, six days a week, at Citigroup in New York City. Feeling burned out, she resigned before planning her next step, and finally had the time to focus on herself. Alboher writes of Smith’s case, “If you’re ‘burning out,’ you just can’t keep up with the pace of your life anymore. You need to catch your breath…you probably can’t even think about what’s next until you figure out a way to slow yourself down.”
Sandy Faison, an actor-turned-teacher who hails from Brooklyn Heights, is ecstatic about her career change. Faison spent the first half of her life as a successful performer; she made her Broadway debut in “Annie” in 1977 as Grace Farrell, secretary to Daddy Warbucks. She went on to act, mostly in television shows, including “The Wonder Years” and “Party of Five,” before deciding it was time to change professions and begin teaching. “Everything I’ve done in my life has led me to this job,” she asserts in the book. “Even my parenting skills are assets in this job. It’s balderdash that older people can’t teach. You can’t keep me down in the classroom.”
“The Encore Career Handbook” explores specific topics and concerns that readers may have, including decision-making about whether or not to go back to school, keys to finding passions and interests that might inspire a new career, and use of social media sites such as LinkedIn. The book even includes appendices that offer sample resumes and bios, a budget worksheet, and a business plan builder.
Filled with enthusiasm and encouragement, “The Encore Career Handbook” can serve as a guide for those who are interested in – yet nervous about – making a change.
Marci Alboher is vice president of Encore.org, a nonprofit organization that aids millions of people in pursuing encore careers. She has previously authored “One Person/Multiple Careers,” and created the ‘Shifting Careers’ column and blog for The New York Times. She lives with her husband in New York City.