I came across an article (no magic to that – I’m always researching things!) called “The phenomenon of later-life re-careering by well-educated baby boomers”. I stumbled across it while doing my homework for an online university program I’m taking. It’s in their academic journal databases, so if you have access to anything like that you can find the article in the Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Cultures (Volume 6, 2015).
If you don’t, don’t worry, here’s the general gist: The author, Candy K. Rice, notes that there’s “a critical need to embrace a new paradigm of work activities in positive aging.” Up until recently, studies of older adults has focused on the idea that people will have a primary career and then bang, retire. Retirement might include some volunteer work, or “just for fun” part time work.
Now, though, it seems that more people are extending their working lives by choosing a second career= recareering. Why? Simply because they don’t want to retire=leaving the professional world for good. The study participants all really enjoyed their second careers, even if the job required them to work more hours than their primary careers did.
How did they get these new careers? Generally, Rice tells us, through the networks the people had from their primary careers. Then they enjoyed extending those networks with new connections. The people wanted to continue meeting people on a professional level, as they had done all their lives. Volunteering is a great way to meet people, of course, but the relationship is not the same.
The study participants said they want to stay engaged in meaningful, fulfilling work and to continue learning. My favourite quote from the article, in fact, is:
“Participants valued continued growth, were hungry to learn, and were eager to embrace change.”
Wow, lifelong learning, put into practice! Extending their working lives was viewed as continued growth–not a burden or chore. In my own years of work, I’ve never heard anyone ever say they were “hungry to learn”. I’m so fascinated by this! Could it be that the pressures we have in our primary careers make us focus on “getting it done”, rather than on actually enjoying what we are doing? In later life, when many professionals can relax a bit about finances, child-raising, mortgages and such, can the focus switch to pursuing personal fulfillment?
What are your thoughts on this? Are you eager to retire, or do you want to extend your professional life with a second career? Are you looking to embrace lifelong learning through work? What kind of second career do you see yourself in? Comment below and let me know!