Combining several of our last topics—passion in retirement, working in retirement, and volunteering in retirement —we come up with Encore Careers. Encore.org promotes “second acts for the greater good”—encouraging people age 50+ to use their experience, skills and wisdom to leave a lasting legacy for the well-being of future generations.
Boomers as “takers”
I love the encore career concept because we Boomers are always cited for taking so much—resources, jobs, services, attention. Because Boomers are the largest and best educated generation and had the greatest opportunity for jobs and material success up to this point, we are looked upon as “takers.” Now because we are entering retirement age, we are “taking” a chunk out of Social Security and Medicare. When the Boomers were born, we knew there would be a large number of people hitting retirement age at this time. What has changed is that thanks to advances in medicine, we are living longer and, thus, stressing those government programs even more.
Boomers as “givers”
Encore careers offer us a chance to prove that we can be “givers” as well. Even though we often have enjoyed a higher standard of living than our parents and seem to be focused on financial/material success, many Boomers are now at the developmental stage where we want to leave a valuable legacy for future generations. We can use our gifts of education, training and experience to help provide solutions to social problems.
“Encore career” was coined by Mark Freedman, founder of Encore.org. Encore careers promote “purpose, passion and a paycheck” in your second act. One way social entrepreneurs in the second half of life are encouraged is through the $100,000 Purpose Prize. According to Freedman, “Winners guided by experience, drawing on creativity and anchored in pragmatism set out to find solutions to significant, seemingly intractable social problems.” Recent winners from Purpose Prize:
Inez Killingsworth, 72, became a housing expert and advocate—just in time for the home mortgage and foreclosure crisis. In a recent year her organization, Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People, provided foreclosure counseling to 8,000 families, helping more than 80 percent stay in their homes.
Susan Burton, 61, a former drug addict who spent years in and out of jail, is an advocate for women who are also former inmates. Her organization, A New Way of Life Reentry Project in Los Angeles, helps female parolees — and their children — start fresh, by offering them housing, legal services and job training.
Judy Cockerton, 61, aims to transform America’s foster care system through her Treehouse Foundation. The nonprofit has created a mixed-income housing community where families who have adopted foster children live among “honorary grandparents” age 55 and older. Volunteers serve as mentors, tutors and counselors.
Other prize winners have helped the homeless; first-time, at-risk mothers; severely-disabled students; and have projects in other countries like Tanzania, India or Afghanistan.
Encore Career Resources
We may not all be able to start new organizations, but we can start looking for opportunities to pursue our “passion, purpose and a paycheck” through:
Encore Career Handbook Review at: Review
AmeriCorps national service network: AmeriCorps or call 800-942-2677. Volunteer and paid service.
AARP Experience Corps. Volunteer and paid tutors improve K-3 literacy in disadvantaged schools.
Support from other sources for encore careers
Richard Eisenberg in his blog post, Encore Careers for the Rest of Us, suggests there are 4 other major players who need to support this movement to make it part of traditional retirement:
—Financial Advisors need to help clients look at retirement in a new way and consider encore careers as an opportunity to help themselves financially while finding meaning in retirement.
–More employers need to offer near-retirees paid internships or bridge jobs like the Intel Encore Fellowships — six- to 12-month assignments at local nonprofits.
—Nonprofits need to welcome skilled people interested in encore careers.
—Colleges should provide training for people interested in encore careers. See encore.org for list of current programs.
So Boomers, let’s become known as the generation who started the “purpose, passion and a paycheck” retirement. Give us your encore performance!
I am a procrastinator. I work best under deadlines. So getting around to organizing blog posts for 2013 was left until today, January 9—a little late. In organizing my materials I realized that I had completely forgotten about the best New Year’s resolution idea I had developed close to the end of 2012.
Our New Year’s resolutions usually come from our end-of-year review from the previous year—what we didn’t accomplish but wish we had—lose weight, build better relationships, make more money, exercise more, etc.
In November, 2012 I ran into an online article that reminded me of the best place to find resolutions worthy of any of us—hospice. In this article by Ursula Reutin, “Hospice nurse shares list of five things you must say before you die,” Eileen Geller, a hospice nurse for 25 years, points out that terminally-ill patients often do a life review. “If you want to avoid being that person who has serious regrets at the end of your life, she says there are five things you want to make sure you say to the people you love before you die. ‘Thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, and goodbye.’”
Also hospice nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, in their book, Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying, find that most patients find peace with their approaching death. To achieve that state, they exercise whatever control they have to make peace with and/or say goodbye to important people in their lives, come to grips with the spiritual aspect of their lives, and often exercise some control over the actual timing or process of their death. My brother had a month at the end of his life to say goodbye and thank you to relatives with whom he had not communicated for many years. It seemed weird to me at the time that he thanked uncles for serving in the military 40 years before, but now I realize that he was making peace with people he felt he had neglected during his life.
New Year’s Resolutions
One of the reasons that I love visiting residents of a local skilled nursing facility is that they have discarded what is not important. They yearn to think about spiritual things and reminisce about meaningful times with loved ones. We could all look at the life review of nearing-death individuals for ideas for meaningful New Year’s resolutions so that we are not that person with “serious regrets” at the end of our lives.
So besides resolutions to lose weight and exercise more, what brings true meaning to your life? Resolve to work on that this year. A Procrastinator’s Happy New Year to you!
“Plan” is a key work in this question. Please don’t sell your house and move to your dream location without at least visiting first. The scenery may be beautiful, but the cost or community may not be welcoming.
Criteria for desirable retirement location
First think about what are your criteria for a desirable location. Is it the cost of living or scenery or access to healthcare or activities or potential community or pace of living or some prioritized combination of these?
How to research retirement locations
There are websites to research such retirement locations. If possible, begin your decision-making process pre-retirement. Visit on vacations for a high-level screening. Once you have identified the top choices, before you still sell everything and move, make a longer visit. Get to know what day-to-day living is like:
- traffic– or ease of public transportation
- activities—social, intellectual, cultural
- attitude toward new residents—welcoming or not so much
- taxes—on retirement income or not
- pace of living—adventurous or relaxed, urban or rural
- healthcare—access, cost, availability of insurance (Medicare and individual plans)
- demographics—lots of retirees or mixed age-range
- opportunities to stay fit and active—weather, geography (walking/bike trails, etc.)
Helpful website: http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/best-places-to-retire
International retirement locations
International locations can fit the bill for cost, beauty, healthcare, activities and adventure, but check openness to non-citizens, taxes, access to local banking, visa requirements, and ease of transportation to and from family and friends.
The world is open to you, just look before you leap. Enjoy the adventure!
During the “Transition to Retirement” class in our employer retirement seminar series, I find most of these current employees rate this as one of the least important sessions to them (compared to Social Security, Medicare, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, etc.). However, when I speak with people who are already retired, they almost always say they wish they had spent more time thinking about this transition before retirement.
Often current employees are just longing for the day when they do not have to go to work any longer. They either feel that how they spend their time in retirement will just take care of itself naturally OR they think they have done a lot of planning for what to do with their time. Remember from a previous post, that most people spend more time planning a family vacation than their retirement.
In 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years, people often hit a point at which they say, “I have spent time with the grandkids, golfed/fished a lot, and taken a bunch of trips; now what?” This is the point at which they say, I wish I had thought about this more before I retired. Especially if they had been very active and involved in their career, they need something purposeful to fill that void left from no longer working.
What to do?
Look to your passion. Did you want to play professional baseball as a child? Maybe you can volunteer to usher at baseball games OR travel around the U.S. to see a game at every baseball stadium. Did you want to be a famous ballerina or actress? Maybe you can volunteer to usher at a theater in your area. Think about a dream you may have had to give up in order to pay the bills, the mortgage, college tuition, etc. Is there a charitable organization that you want to support? Maybe you do not have a lot of financial resources to give now, but these organizations always need volunteer help. Is there a business idea you always wanted to pursue? Now that you have Social Security, maybe a pension and/or 401(k)/IRA, you might be willing to risk your time in trying out your creative idea.
Stretch yourself. Think outside the box. What is it that would give you meaning and a reason to get out of bed in the morning? Investigate the possibilities before you hit your “2.”
Okay, it’s a new year and there are lots of areas that could use attention, and thus, resolutions. Did you think about planning your retirement as one of them?
In the US, we are often not especially fond of planning, especially in personal matters. An often-heard quote is that we spend more time planning a 2-week family vacation than we do planning our retirement. A well-planned vacation goes more smoothly than a last-minute bolt-out-the-door trip. Spontaneity can be fun because there are surprises, but even spontaneous trips need to have some basics covered to be enjoyable, and not disastrous.
Retirement can be much more fun with some basic preparation too. Then those surprises do not completely devastate us. Of course, the first type of planning everyone addresses is financial planning, but there are so many more things to think about.
In the next blog posts, we will cover a variety of retirement planning issues in addition to retirement financial planning, including: estate planning, long-term care planning, caregiving planning, retirement life planning, retirement housing planning, funeral planning, work vs. volunteer planning, etc.
So join us for a leisurely trip down the path to a meaningful, fun-filled, active and stable retirement–with enjoyable surprises, not devastating ones. Happy New Year!