Retirement is a time for reflection and can be an opportunity to act on those long-held wishes and fulfill them. Whether it’s longing for a change of scenery, starting a new chapter in your career, or just reconnecting with friends, there’s no better time to stop thinking about it and start doing it!
Time for a new you?
Perhaps your thoughts are turning toward travel and adventure, and a new perspective. Tobin Trevarthen offers inspiration in his “gap month” adventure with his wife, which they chronicled in a blog. “When you go through that exercise (of blogging), you begin to realize you are not writing about your work. Your career arc. Your work accomplishments. You write about the memories from your travel. From your funny, stupid, or serious moments with friends and family. The emotional tidbits that made up that moment, the exhilaration or fear or sorrow that you felt as a result. You begin to take stock of what really matters in your life journey.”
If you’re thinking about a career change, the cold winter months offer a perfect excuse to huddle up at home and start doing research. In Next for Me’s Job Hunter’s Guide, David Perlman suggests starting by asking yourself these questions:
- What do you want to do? What does your ideal job look like? Which criteria are non-negotiable and which ones are you willing to compromise on?
- What are you selling? What is your value to a new employer? Warning: it may not be what you think it is.
- What is the market buying? Read a few relevant job descriptions and write down the attributes the hiring folks are looking for. Do these match the ones you are selling?
- Finally, is there a viable overlap between the job you want and the job you can actually get?
It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know
If you’re having trouble finding the answers to some of these questions, you might need to enlist some help. Use the post-holiday time to reach out to old and new friends with an invitation to lunch or a coffee date.
Author Karen Wickre (Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections That Count) suggests you think about the new direction you want to take, asking yourself, “Who do I know that knows about that?” The simple act of making people you know aware of your new interest can open new doors for you, but you have to have the conversation. It’s only then that they can make introductions or make suggestions for how you should proceed.
If you have a narrow network in a niche field that doesn’t involve your new interest, David Perlman advises, “Make real efforts to broaden your network into new arenas. Go to meetups, take the meeting, book lunches, have a coffee with someone you barely know. Work at it. Systematically growing your network takes a lot of time but it can pay off bigtime.”
Writing Your Next Chapter
You can be proactive in writing your next chapter by doing just that — writing about it.
In our new book, Next for Me: A Guide to Startups for Dreamers, my co-author Jeff Tidwell and I offer practical tips for people starting a new business venture. And one of our most important pieces of advice is to write, write, and write some more. Writing about what you’re doing helps you gain fresh perspective, and that doesn’t just apply to starting your own company.
We recommend publishing your day to day endeavors on as many platforms you can — a blog, social media, even a newsletter or podcast. The point is to get your story out in the world, but you can start small by journaling and note-taking if writing isn’t your forte. Articulating what it is you’re striving to achieve at this chapter of your life — whether that’s new experiences like travel, a career change, or updating your network — will help you navigate the path ahead.
The same goes for talking to people about what you’re doing, or what you want to do. Taking every chance to tell someone about your dream and why you’re pursuing it provides more than just an opportunity to share what you’re doing. That story will evolve all the time, and so will you.
Carole McManus is the Co-founder and Editor in Chief of Next for Me, a new resource that connects and inspires our generation to evolve post-50 life through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution. She is a marketing and social media strategist with a history of building some of the most successful online communities on the Web, including Yahoo Groups, BabyCenter, and CatCon. She lives in San Francisco with her children.