How Older Adults Can Find Meaningful Work
An encore career, or a second career in the second half of life, can be an excellent way for older adults to find new purpose and meaningful work later in life. For many, the traditional retirement lifestyle of leisure and relaxation simply isn’t enough. They crave the sense of accomplishment and purpose that comes with working and contributing to society. But how do older adults go about finding a meaningful encore career?
Ways to Explore Your Next Meaningful Encore Career
Finding meaningful work in your second half of life is a lot about exploration. There are many factors that may affect you differently than when you previously went looking for work opportunities. While in the past, salary may have been the most crucial aspect, later in life, it may be more about the impact or enjoying the work. It may be a combination of many different factors, So that means the process will be quite different.
Initially, it’s important to write a list of the goals you want to achieve in finding a new job. Once you know that, then the next step is to explore opportunities and see what makes the most sense. That may mean that you try some jobs in different formats to see if they are a good fit for you or not.
Here are five ways to go about finding new purpose and meaningful work:
- Try gig jobs – Gig jobs, such as freelancing or consulting, can be a great way to put your skills and experience to work flexibly. Gig jobs allow you to work on your terms, choosing the projects and clients that align with your interests and values.
- Volunteer – Volunteering can be a great way to gain new skills, meet new people, and make a difference in your community. Many organizations rely on volunteers to help with a wide range of tasks, from event planning to social media management.
- Take classes – Learning new skills can help you stay engaged and competitive in the workforce. Take classes through organizations like GetSetUp or other online platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and edX.
- Start your own business – Starting your own business can be a great way to put your skills and experience to work in a way that aligns with your passions and values. To help you get started, consider taking some business classes, joining your small business association or other groups for small business owners.
- Network – Building and maintaining a professional network can help you stay connected to potential job opportunities, as well as provide valuable resources and support. Attend networking events, join professional associations and groups, and connect with other professionals in your field online.
While all those ideas seem fairly straightforward, it can be hard to visualize what their outcome looks like in practice.
What does an Encore Career Really Look Like?
Twyla Teitzel, a plant-based diet enthusiast and owner of Plant Based Twy, is a great example of someone who found new purpose and meaning through an encore career. After years as a mother, yoga instructor, and working with non-profits, Twyla decided to become a consultant in a plant-based lifestyle. To help her advance her business, she signed up to participate in the GetSetUp Startup Accelerator and was selected to participate in 12 weeks of business courses.
She went on to pitch her business at the startup’s demo day and won! After winning $2,500 in the GetSetUp Startup Accelerator program, Twyla’s main goal became fighting ageism by living an active life, eagerly accepting new challenges, and assuring people that it’s never too late to change their diet for the better.
Through her advocacy and enthusiasm, she’s been getting the message out over the past five months since the Startup program ended. She’s danced back up for a Rolling Stones tribute band, appeared in AARP Magazine, been hired to teach at Sierra Community College, baked instant pot vegan brownies on Good Day Sacramento, and been a guest on Career Pivot and What’s Next podcasts.
She’s also been offered a new partnership with California Balsamic and received an increased stipend on her existing partnership with Chili Smith Family Foods. Twyla has taken classes to improve her business skills, done gig work, found a supportive community of entrepreneurs to support her encore career, and volunteered in this area. These investments in her business have helped her increase her monthly profits by 200% and build a steady following on TikTok. She also hosts a Plant-Based People discussion group every other Thursday.
In conclusion, an encore career can be an excellent way for older adults to find new purpose and meaningful work in the second half of life. By considering gig jobs, volunteering, taking classes, starting their own business, and networking, older adults can explore new career opportunities and find a path that aligns with their passions, skills, and values. They can choose to take a full-time job or manage work on their terms.
It’s never too late to make a change and pursue new goals and aspirations. With the right mindset, resources, and support, older adults can find meaningful work and make a positive impact in their communities and society.
This post was written by Liz Miller. Liz is a passionate advocate for lifelong learning. Currently, she works as the Communication Manager at GetSetUp an educational platform for lifelong learners to explore together!