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The traditional narrative of aging is outdated. Now it's an encore.
Encore: an additional act. That is exactly the opportunity we have with greater longevity. It is based on the new narrative of aging; freedom to grow, explore and reimagine the second half of life.
Compare that to the old narrative; grow up, grow old, freedom from work to a life of leisure (what we call traditional retirement).
The aging of the Baby Boomer generation is fueling the new narrative and Encore career. Today, 10,000 boomers turn 65 each day. Whether by choice or necessity, many will continue to work.
The foundation for an encore career includes values, purpose and passion. In fact, values are the driving force to purpose which ignites passion.
Sound a little different than the way many of us have experienced our work lives? That is the whole point! Encore career is often a reordering of time, talents and treasure that are a perfect fit for who YOU are today.
Many of us have had to squeeze into a company's job description, which often meant leaving whole chunks of who we are (talents, skills, interests, what is important to us) at home when we go to work. For example, I am pretty intuitive, creative and innovative. For much of my career in the corporate world, I was often given the message "we don't value that here. If you can't prove it, if it can't be standardized, we don't want it here." It often felt like I was leaving my right arm at home when I went to work. I have been able to incorporate a more complete me in creating my encore career. You can too.
The second half of life is going to be unique for each of us. That is totally awesome and scary. It means we each are asked to invest the time and energy to discover who we are, where we want to go, and how we are going to get there. You may surprise yourself by finding a new, more complete self just waiting in the wings for greater expression.
Purpose is crucial to life's second half. It is the seasoning that flavors life with meaning and shape. It provides a sense of forward direction and a way to leave your own mark in the world in your own way. There are many research studies on the startling positive effects of purpose on health, both physical and mental. People with a low sense of purpose are 2.4 times more likely to get Alzheimer's disease than those with a strong sense of purpose. A recent study showed having a sense of purpose reduced the odds of suffering a stroke by 44 percent. Sounds like a good health insurance policy to me.
Encore career is based on the principle of creating a life portfolio. In our careers up to midlife, often work eats up much of our time, energy and focus. The rest of life; family, friends, hobbies, spirituality, self-care, volunteering, play etc. is squeezed in the cracks between work hours. Creating a life portfolio allows for much greater balance. Instead of fitting in between the cracks, all of those "other things" hold a more significant role, especially play, having fun, and laughter. Life portfolio is key to experiencing a vibrant, vital second half of life.
Here are some signs that may indicate a resounding yes for an encore career: burn out, bumping into a dream deferred, being laid off, feeling obsolete in your field, a crisis of conscience at work, experiencing a life loss (divorce, a death, change in health) or just plain ready for a change.
If you can say yes to any of those signs, it is time to explore what could be next for you.
Lynette Reiling, an Aurora resident, is an advocate and educator for the new narrative of aging. Her encore career includes life coaching with midlife adults who are ready to create their next life, retirement readiness consulting for the Employers Council, community college instructor for adult education, and volunteer recruitment for Boomers Leading Change. Find out more at www.lynettereiling.com
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