Category Archives: 50+ Careers

Are you working for fulfillment or working for a living?

Working for Fulfillment

Are you working for fulfillment or working for a living? As we journey through midlife and beyond, work life transitions may be forced upon us due to the loss of a job, unexpected health issues, or family caring responsibilities. Alternatively, we may be ready to consider retirement from long term careers with a degree of financial security that allows us to shift from making a living to making a life. Wherever we are on this midlife journey, this can be a time for making conscious choices about our work life.

In our Midlife New Life Conversation Circle Mastermind program, we are approaching these important topics. Working for a Living and Working for Fulfillment are two chapters of the book, Midlife New Life – Living Consciously In Midlife and Beyond, that we are exploring in these virtual gatherings. We are living longer and working longer than previous generations. Can we begin to focus on working because we want to rather than working because we have to? Can we think of retirement as freedom to work rather than freedom from work?

Many of us have to work to pay the bills but maybe now is the time to develop a roadmap for the future, for working because we want to in midlife and later life. Begin to explore opportunities for encore careers in similar or different fields, entrepreneurial ventures, or volunteering. Entrepreneurial ventures may support doing what you want to do, doing what you can do; maybe making money and making a difference. What do you want to do? Take a moment to fantasize about appearing on the cover of a magazine: what magazine would it be, and what would the article be about? Who do you choose to be in midlife and beyond?

No Fear Retirement

Although I believe that we are all still Too Young to Retire® I also know that there are many fears about the transitions from full time careers into new and uncertain phases of our lives. One of our 2Young2Retire® certified facilitators, Pamela Houghton, has published a new book, No Fear Retirement, written for anyone who is thinking about, or has already embarked upon, retirement.

No Fear Retirement addresses ten of the most common concerns of those who are thinking about retirement. Whether your fears are around finances, your relationships, where you will live, your identity, or something else, this book is a valuable resource. Taking time to reflect on the Pause for Thought questions along the twelve phases of retirement or associated with the ten most common fears, will make this read well worthwhile and may help you enjoy a more fun-filled and fulfilling life if or when you retire. For more information visit Pamela Houghton’s website:

Paul G. Ward

Living the Good Life Rent-Free

Perhaps you want to explore a new place for weeks or months without paying for a hotel but you don’t like the idea of an exchange where you have strangers living in your house. Consider a position as a property caretaker or house-sitter, which allows you to stay in someone’s home for free in return for providing a small service, such as pet care, gardening, or property management. In addition to free housing, some caretaker positions offer a stipend, while others may even include a salary and benefits.

Caretaking could offer more exotic surroundings than typical tourist fare. A recent issue of the Caretaker Gazette advertised a salaried position for a retired couple to maintain a private lodge in the wilderness of southwest Alaska—some experience with small motors and cutting firewood is helpful. Another gig: three months in Sedona, Arizona, looking after three cats and a garden. Does a five-week housesit in Hawaii, on a property bordered by rain forests, sound appealing? You must be willing to care for a cat, six dogs and fish tanks, and water young plants.

The most comprehensive listing of property caretaker positions is published by a friend of 2Young2Retire, The Caretaker Gazette. Since 1983, the newsletter has been published in print every two months, and is also now online with email updates sent to subscribers. For more information, contact Gary Dunn via the website:

Paul G. Ward

No One Will Hire Me …

(…I’m too old.)  Of all the self-defeating statements we hear from people 60 and older who are in need of a job, this has to be the most common and saddest.  No doubt, this belief is based on personal experience with ageism, losing out to a younger competitor, for example.  Or simply finding that the strategies that worked before — a dynamite resume, power networking  — aren’t producing the desired result, especially in the current economic climate.   Ageism isn’t going to disappear, and we might do well to take the advice of employment counselors, weary of the complaint: “Get over it!”

Here, according to a new study from MetLife Mature Market Institute are seven common mistakes older job seekers must correct if they are to be successful in finding work.

• “I’ll just do what I was doing before.”
• “My experience speaks for itself.”
• “I don’t have time for this touchy-feely stuff about what work means to me.”
• “I know! I’ll become a consultant!”
• “Of course I’m good with computers.”
• “I’ll just use a recruiter for some career coaching.”
• “I’ve always been successful, so why should things be different now?”

If you are looking for work and any of these misconceptions ring a bell with you, take the time to download and read Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?  The MetLife Study of the New Realities of the Job Market for Aging Baby Boomers (October ’09).  It just might turn your head around.  As the study says, “Wishful thinking is not a job search method.”  Resilience, a willingness to relocate, and the motivation to learn new skills are absolute musts if you are seeking a job at 60 or older.  Or at any age, for that matter.

Eat Before You See Julie and Julia

The last time a movie made me so hungry was when four of us went to see Eat Drink Man Woman in New York City and arrived so late, we had to take seats in the first row.  Fortunately, this was on the Upper West where relief for a rumbling stomach was available on about every corner.  Julie and Julia is about food and people who love it and the people who love them, and if you don’t salivate when Julie produces bruchetta (which I didn’t realize was in Mastering the Art of French Cooking), check your pulse.  And then there’s the scene with the Sole Meuniere.

I took away two things from this wonderful film.  First, I remembered in embarrassing detail how inept I was in the kitchen as a new bride of 23, literally could not figure out which side of a chicken went up in the roasting pan, or how long one could keep leftover stuffed pepper (don’t even ask).  It didn’t help that my then mother-in-law was a graduate of an illustrious French cooking school.  But then, Salvation!  Julia Child and the PBS show, The French Chef.  It saved my life, if not my marriage.  I lived to cook again.

Specialty chef was on my short list of possible Encore careers as I wound down my 11-year freelance writing business at age 56.  It never occurred to me that I should slow down or quit work.  I wanted to make the world a better place through healthy food.  The was pre-Vocation Vacations, so I took myself into Annemarie Colbin‘s The Natural Gourmet in New York for a three-day course to see if I could cut it, and I do mean that literally.  The scene in which Julia masters knife skills on several pounds of onions comes to mind.  At the end of the course, I acquired two recipes at The Natural Gourmet that I make to this day: a wonderful pea soup (flavored with curry and brunoise — very small dice of carrots, onions and celery) and a no-butter, no-sugar ‘healthy’ cookie with an almond and whole wheat flour dough.  I know, it sounds disgusting.  But sadly, I couldn’t master knife skills well enough to be happy as a professional chef, although I’ve improved with practice.  Fortunately, I also loved yoga and movement … but that’s another story for another post, because…

Second, the film is also about blogging and how satisfying it can be, even if you don’t have a dynamite idea like the Julie/Julia Project and no aspirations to become a star blogger.  I’ve been more slacker than blogger here, but I’m changing my ways.  After all, where else can you write about whatever is on your mind?   (Yeah, OK, there’s Facebook.)  It’s a weblog.  Not Tolstoy.

Obama Meets Purpose Prize Winners

President Obama met with social innovators at the White House on June 30, including a half-dozen winners of The Purpose Prize, and lauded them for “succeeding where others have failed; getting real, measurable results; changing the way we think about some of our toughest problems.”

The president specifically called out “young-at-heart people like Robert Chambers, who finish out careers in business or health care or education, and instead of transitioning into retirement, they’re just too busy, they’re too restless, so they come back for an encore, plowing a lifetime of experience into helping people in need.”  Read more.

You are brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring

In May 2009, visionary author and speaker, Paul Hawken, gave a commencement address to the graduates of University of Portland.  He could have been speaking to those of the 50 plus generation.  Read this except:

“There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.” Read more.

Guy Kawasaki on Entrepreneurship

In his final posting for Sun Microsystems, business guru Guy Kawasaki offers “a list of the five most important lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur.”

  1. Focus on cash flow. I understand the difference between cash flow and profitability, and I’m not recommending that you strive for a lack of profitability. But cash is what keeps the doors open and pays the bills. Paper profits on an accrual accounting basis is of no more than secondary or tertiary importance for a startup. As my mother used to say, “Sales fixes everything.”
  2. Make a little progress every day. I used to believe in the big-bang theory of marketing: a fantastic launch that created such inertia that you flew to “infinity and beyond.” No more. Now my theory is that you make a little bit of progress every day–whether that’s making your product slightly better, increasing your skill in one small way, or closing one more customer. The reason the press writes about “overnight successes” is that they seldom happen–not because that’s how all businesses work.
  3. Try stuff. I also used to believe that it’s better to be smart than lucky because if you’re smart you can out-think the competition. I don’t believe that anymore–this is not to say that you should strive for a high level of stupidity. My point is that luck is a big part of many successes, so (a) don’t get too bummed out when you see a bozo succeed; and (b) luck favors the people who try stuff, not simply think and analyze. As the Chinese say, “One must wait for a long time before a Peking duck flies into your mouth.”
  4. Ignore schmexperts. Schmexperts are the totally bad combination of schmucks who are experts–or experts who are schmucks. When you first launch a product or service, they’ll tell you it isn’t necessary, can’t really work, or faces too much competition. If you succeed, then they’ll say they knew you would succeed. In other words, they don’t know jack shiitake. If you believe, try it. If you don’t believe, listen to the schmexperts and stay on the porch.
  5. Never ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do. This goes for customers (“fill out these twenty-five fields of personal information to get an account for our website”) to employees (“fly coach to Mumbai, meet all day the day you arrive, and fly back that night”). If you follow this principle, you’ll almost always have a good customer service reputation and happy employees.

I hold these truths to be self-evident and hope that you can use them to kick butt and change the world.

Facebook: The New Rolodex?

Once upon a time, a stuffed Rolodex was a sign of a well-connected, highly-motivated person, someone who did a lot of networking and gathering contacts on the hey-you-never-know premise. That was then. Today, we have other choices like LinkedIn which builds a professional network on the principle of six degrees of separation, that is, who you know, and who they know, ad infinitum. But it’s actually more, because there is huge incentive for members to build professional profiles, invite in associates and colleagues, get and give recommendations, and ask questions (starting a kind of forum). According to an article in Business Week (Business Tips for Late Facebook Arrivals) by venture capitalist, Richard Moran, we should stop thinking of Facebook as a place for young people to connect and share photos and hot new dance clubs, and embrace it as a very grownup tool to further our careers, businesses, and causes. Moran writes:

Your Rolodex is alive and following you. In order to close a deal recently, I was desperate to reach an executive. I called his office, sent him an e-mail, and even called his boss. Nothing happened for days. After all else failed, I checked him out on Facebook, friended him and he accepted my request although we had not met. I sent him a message, he responded, and the deal was considered. Facebook did in a matter of seconds what traditional telecommunications and e-mail couldn’t accomplish in days.

And then, of course, there is, the aim of which is to help you meet other retirement-resistant grownups who are eager to educate themselves about the possibilities of life beyond their core career, and instinctively understand that community is what makes makes this important transition smoother, more rewarding, and fun.