Thinking of a Second Career

Thinking of a Second Career
By: Charlene Davisphoto

Once upon a time, retirement meant taking a permanent leave of absence from the workforce to tinker in the garden and play endless games of bridge with friends. But today’s mature adults look better, feel better, and think that going over the proverbial hill is a new thrill ride with fun and interesting opportunities waiting to be discovered. Fast forward to the second millennium and you will discover that "unretiring” is the new buzz word among today’s older generation. It’s even earned an official spot in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary.

A recent survey by Zogby International and the MetLife Mature Market Institute found that a considerable number of older Americans have joined the ranks of working retirees and not necessarily because they are struggling to make ends meet. Many people decide on second careers because it’s an opportunity to turn a fun hobby into a lucrative business, while others like exciting challenges or want to learn a new skill.

In his book, Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, author Marc Freedman says that boomers will work longer for many reasons, but the real force driving people to find meaningful work is personal. "It’s that inner voice calling for something as simple as a change of pace, as ambitious as changing the world, as profound as reclaiming a dream deferred before it is denied,” he writes.

Although following a dream or calling can be very exciting and fulfilling, you don’t want to take off helter-skelter and find yourself skating on thin ice. With any new undertaking you need to find solid footing by preparing yourself, doing your homework, and making a plan before embarking on your new vocation.

First, think about what you are looking for in your second career. More travel, less administrative work, meet new people, flexibility? If you are turning a long-time hobby into an entrepreneurial enterprise, will you need additional funding or education? Are you going solo or is this a shared venture with your spouse or close friend? The best way to hammer out these types of details is to put together a business plan – even if it’s just a short mini-plan. You can find free templates to get started with on the internet.

Once you know what direction you’re headed start talking to people who have already made the late-life career transition, as well as folks who are working in your same area of interest. Not only can you learn from their firsthand experiences, you can also find out more about the business you hope to get into.

When you are finally ready to take the plunge into your second career, do so with the understanding that it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get rich quick or become an overnight success. Turning a profit can take months – or longer. Running a business requires hard work, commitment, and enthusiasm. Lots of enthusiasm. Otherwise, it’s just another day at work. This time is yours so relax, have fun, and enjoy yourself!


CHARLENE DAVIS ( is a internationally published writer specializing in business, retail, e-commerce, and food. She has written Design and Start an Online Travel Business in a Week, Start Your Own Photography Business, Start Your Own Clothing Store, and How to Sell Clothing, Shoes, & Accessories on eBay, as well as two additional books co-authored with Jacquelyn Lynn, Make BIG Profits on eBay and Start Your Own Senior Services Business (all published by Entrepreneur Press). Charlene wrote this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses (, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the artisan industry.