How to Reboot
Before we address the question, How to Reboot, let’s ask another: Why in the World Would You Want To?
You’ve worked hard all your life and earned the right to retire. You’ve made enough money to take care of yourself and your family. You’re tired of working and you want to just quit. You want to sleep in, play a little golf, maybe travel a little. Chill out.
All well and good. But before you give in completely to “It’s my retirement and I’ll loaf if I want to,” think about the positives of reinventing yourself and continuing to be productive.
- You may live into the future almost as long as you’ve been working in the past. And you may live a lot longer than you’ve been expecting to live. Rebooting can enrich your life for several decades.
- You may want — or need — more money than you’ve got. Rebooting can earn some for you.
- You may be bored to tears after a month of doing nothing — a lot of people are. Rebooting can keep you from going stir crazy.
- You’ve still got a lot to contribute — to others, to an organization, to a cause, to your own self image. Rebooting can re-unleash your talents, and help you make sure you don’t put them on a shelf in your garage and let them go to waste.
What you want to do, and believe you can do, you can do
What does it take to reboot yourself? The most important requirement is simple — the desire to do so. The second most important requirement is belief in yourself — confidence that you can do it.
It helps to have a degree of financial stability, if not complete financial independence. You also need some willingness to take a risk, even at an age when it’s not “fashionable” to take risks. And encouragement from loved ones, family, friends and maybe people you don’t even know.
It will help, too, to have a healthy does of humility, a willingness to start over, maybe at or near the bottom (see Archie Davis, Rebooter.) You could well find yourself working with — or for! — people young enough to be your children, or your grandchildren. This can be a humbling experience. You need to be willing to acknowledge what you don’t know and become a learner again.
And a little planning is definitely required.
If you’ve got a few of these ingredients, this website will provide ideas on how to do it, and inspiration and encouragement from those who’ve done it.
Start a consulting business
Perhaps the simplest way to reboot is just to go back to work, or continue to work, in the same field where you finished your career. As you and millions of other Baby Boomers retire and leave the work force, tens of thousands of companies are going to be scrambling to fill the labor force vacuum you leave behind. So…?
Imagine an older Dustin Hoffman in a remake of “The Graduate.” At a garden party, a wise friend walks up, pulls him aside from the crowd, and says in quiet voice: “One word: consulting.”
Never mind how many times you’ve heard the old chestnut about a consultant being a person with a briefcase 50 miles from home. Consulting is a great way to extend the value of your experience, know-how and expertise. Consider for a moment all the hours you spent learning what you know. The company you are about to retire from (or used to work for) can still use that knowledge. And while the company may not be willing or able to keep you employed full time, with full benefits, it very well may be able and eager to engage you part time as a consultant.
Starting your own business as a consultant is not difficult at all (See Find Help Going to Work for Yourself.)
If you’re a retiree, you probably don’t need full benefits. You’ve got your IRA or other life savings and investments, you’ve got Social Security and Medicare, you’ve got “replacement assets” for those “total reward packages” your company used to remind you about every so often.
If you can’t consult for your former company, maybe there’s an opportunity at another company in the same or a related field.
And the beauty of consulting is that you can continue to earn a return on your intellectual investment — sometimes a very nice return.
See also Resources > Find Help Going to Work for Somebody Else.
Start some other kind of business besides consulting
You may have no interest in consulting, but you may have some other interest, hobby or pastime that you can turn into a business.
In her book, Starting Over: Reinventing Life After 60, author Pat Skilling Kellerman tells story after story of people over 60 who have turned their interests into businesses, including pottery, woodworking, cooking, selling wallpaper, owning and operating a bed and breakfast, song writing and farming, among others. (See her book at Resources > Books for Rebooters.)
Go back to school
A great way to reboot is to go back to school (see Find a school.) Whether you want to go back to brush up on a subject you’re already familiar with, or tackle something new, there is a school for you — community classes, trade schools, online schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and graduate schools. Yes, you can still take tests and pass them and yes, most importantly, you can still learn!
Become a teacher
While we’re talking about school, perhaps you should consider teaching. You probably know one or more subjects well enough to teach at the high school or college level. And many educational institutions are hurting for teachers.
Join the Experience Corps
Experience Corps, an award-winning program, engages people over 55 in meeting their communities' greatest challenges. Today, in 19 cities across the country, 2,000 Experience Corps members tutor and mentor elementary school students struggling to learn to read. Independent research shows that Experience Corps boosts student academic performance, helps schools and youth-serving organizations become more successful, and enhances the well-being of the older adults in the process. Experience Corps is a signature program of Civic Ventures. http://www.experiencecorps.org/index.cfm
Join the Peace Corps
You might want to join the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps has recently launched a nationwide initiative to attract more older Americans as volunteers in the service, which matches skilled citizens with two-year volunteer assignments in more than 70 countries. Of the 7,749 volunteers currently serving, 382 (or 5 percent) are “50-Plus” volunteers — those aged 50 or older. Peace Corps service has no upper age limit.
“The 50+ population represents a tremendous opportunity for the Peace Corps,” according to Peace Corps Director and former Volunteer, Ron Tschetter. “The 50+ Volunteers bring a lifetime of experience to our host countries through their desire to share their expertise and skills.”
There are two important resources mentioned on RebootYou.com that share the name “Encore.” I want to make sure the distinction is clear:
There is “Encore” the reinvention self-help guide developed by Alice Faron, a short but provocative booklet that asks insightful questions for you to answer and discover what your true passions are. It’s described elsewhere on the site at http://www.rebootyou.com/encore.html. Alice’s Rebooter Story can be read at http://www.rebootyou.com/stories/alice_faron.html.
And there is Encore.org (www.encore.org), an affiliate of Civic Ventures (www.civicventures.org). Encore.org is dedicated to providing pathways for people to pursue paid “encore careers” in education, health care, environmental protection and other social services. Encore.org works both online and offline. On the Web, Encore.org members share their stories, their ideas and their challenges. On the ground, the Encore.org community includes nonprofits, companies, colleges and other organizations that help people explore, prepare and launch their encore careers.
There is no affiliation between the two Encores, but I am pleased to be able to describe both of them on this website.
I know what you’re thinking: “You can say that again!”
Do ‘good work’ and get paid for doing it
Encore.org, an affiliate of Civic Ventures, is dedicated to providing pathways for people to pursue paid “encore careers” in education, health care, environmental protection and other social services. Encore.org works both online and offline. On the Web, Encore.org members share their stories, their ideas and their challenges. On the ground, the Encore.org community includes nonprofits, companies, colleges and other organizations that help people explore, prepare and launch their encore careers. http://www.encore.org/
Volunteer elsewhere and do “good work”
Doing “good work” is a huge field for rebooters. If you’re a church member, there are probably 20 or more separate volunteer activities that could use your help and expertise. Beyond church, every community has countless organizations that are doing good work for deserving and sometimes needy people.
You can find literally thousands of opportunities at Network for Good at http://www.networkforgood.org/. The website says it is “the Internet’s leading charitable resource, bringing together donors, volunteers and charities online to accomplish good.” At the website you can search from among more than 36,000 volunteer opportunities with a very user-friendly search tool. Network for Good was founded in 2001 by America Online, Cisco Systems and Yahoo!, and is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Since its founding more than 230,000 people have found volunteer opportunities through Network for Good.
You can do it!
In summary, the answer to the question “How do I reboot?” is short and simple: Find your passion and pursue it. There are millions of ways. You’re at a fork in your personal road. Take it!
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Last revised August 2007