Many young retirees dream about quitting their job before embarking on a second career.
But fewer people are able to pull off a successful “Act II” in real life.
That’s why we asked several of our clients, who have done exactly that, to share their secrets with you.
Last week, we touched base with our client Kathi, who retired as a flight attendant in 2005, sold her South Florida home and started a challenging new career in a smaller town in the Midwest.
Here’s what Kathi says she learned the second time around:
Think clearly about what you want to change. Kathi told me she decided to quit because her job “just wasn’t fun anymore,” and her lengthy commute in South Florida traffic was a drain. Kathi had family in the Midwest, and the transition to a smaller community with a less stressful lifestyle appealed to her.
“Establishing yourself in a brand new community can be difficult,” she says, adding that it helps to have family or other connections already living in your new hometown. Still, she advises, “give yourself time to develop a new circle of friends.”
Her new town offers a less hectic lifestyle than South Florida, but is still home to a population of 100,000 and a state university. Located 1 ½ hours from a major Midwestern city, it has the advantages of smaller town life with the resources and opportunities of the nearby big city. “There is always something to do,” says Kathi.
Do your homework before taking the plunge. Kathi checked out her new community, and potential housing, before pulling up roots in South Florida. She admits she was lucky to sell her Florida home before the real estate bubble burst, and found housing costs in her new community to be reasonable.
Don’t expect to jump right into your dream job. After retiring from her job with the airlines, Kathi knew she needed and wanted to continue working. She had previous experience and a graduate degree in the mental health profession, but wasn’t sure she could go back to that field after such a long absence.
So after relocating, she landed her first job working in sales in a store. That experience and the contacts she made led to a second job managing a hospital thrift shop, with responsibility for coordinating volunteers and budgeting. In turn, that experience blossomed into her current job with a non-profit community foundation working with donors and planned giving.
Your education and previous experience is never wasted. Don’t feel you lack qualifications, says Kathi, as you explore a new career. “Everyone has transferable skills. Draw on your life experiences and don’t put yourself in a box.” Kathi was able to use her previous experience working with volunteers, managing people, and her counseling training to transition into her current job with the community foundation, a job she says she “absolutely loves.”
It is never too late to reinvent yourself. Kathi was in her 50s when she turned her life in a completely new direction – quitting one job, selling her home, putting down new roots in a new state, and embarking on a rewarding new career. Her experience is proof that you can start your own “Act II” at any age.
The secret to starting over? “It’s all about taking the resources you have and putting them together in a different way,” Kathi says. “Now, I really enjoy what I do and want to keep working as long as I can.”
That sounds like a great plan for a second act!