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Making a career comeback

Author and attorney Steven Pollan offers some advice on how to reinvent yourself and find job placement as a retiree.
/ Source: TODAY

Sixty-seven-year-old Dr. Arnold Fleischer owned his own veterinary practice for more than 30 years. When he sold his practice he was neither mentally or financially ready to finish working. So he pursued a lifelong dream through volunteering, and found himself a second paid career as a result. Like Dr. Fleischer, many retirees, or soon-to-be retirees, are finding themselves in similar circumstances. Either they’d like to start a new career, or they need to start a new career. The challenge they face is how to do it? Attorney, life coach, financial consultant and author of “Second Acts,” Stephen Pollan knows first hand the importance of making a career comeback. He discusses everything you need to know about reinventing yourself and finding job placement as a retiree, on “Today.” Read some of his thoughts below.

We have a lot of retirees upset at having to go back to work...

I think going back to work can actually be a life extender. There is a silver lining. For many of them, it can be an extraordinary opportunity to have a second act — to reinvent themselves and make a deep felt dream come true. It’s an opportunity to live two lives in one lifetime.

What is a “second act?”

It involves reinventing yourself, becoming your true self, reaching out for new life experiences. Anyone can have a “second act” — young or old. What’s inspirational to point out is that even at 50, 60, 70, 80, it’s not too late. You can still find a place for setting a successful “second act.” We live in a transitionary time. Society, culture and the economy are shifting from old to new values. This is a moment to seize!

What type of work makes the most sense for someone over age 65?

Actually, any type. I see 65 as a new beginning. Why not do something you’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another never did. . you have loads of advantages now you never had before. This is a wonderful opportunity to pursue a long deferred dream.

You say that leisure is lethal. why should older adults continue to work past normal retirement age?

A life without challenge means the end of personal growth and the beginning of personal decline. Retirement was never intended to be a 20-year vacation from work. It was promoted by the government in the 1930s in order to create jobs when there was 30 percent unemployment and when most people didn’t live to age 65.

Medical science, better nutrition and exercise have given us almost 30 more years of added life. Let’s make this a gift of active productive years, not 30 years of decrepitude.

In going back to work you don’t have to be giving up anything. Instead, you can be doing something that will give you fulfillment and more quality in your life — as well as some extra income.

Should retirees go back to work as part or full timers?

The word “work” is one of the problems. We associate it with lack of freedom and with something that’s unsatisfying — but it doesn’t have to be. So in answer to your questions: Do something you enjoy and try as hard as you want to.

First, see how much money you need. You may not need as much as you think and have a choice of part time or more. Re-examine your whole financial picture.

Not everyone returning back to work has the liberty to discover what they’ve always wanted to do. Some older adults are desperate to find a paying job simply to pay the bills.

In that case, just look for a job, any job. Don’t let your ego get in the way. All honest work is honorable.

The best way to job hunt today is to make it a quest for advice (not a job). That will let you interact with loads more people — including those on the golf course or at church. (People prefer not to hire strangers.)

If you have a rainy day fund — use it — it’s raining. And consider “dying broke: You do not have to leave an estate to have lived a successful life. Its the quality of life that counts, not the quality of your death.

How do older adults stay relevant in their field? Or should they move on to something entirely different?

You don’t have to worry about the field you used to work in unless you loved it and in that case you’ll be staying up to date already because you enjoy it. And don’t worry about age if you want to do something else.

Age is rarely an actual obstacle. It is strictly an internal problem. One of the biggest “cop outs” in America is “i’m too old!”

A word on obstacles:

You must decide which of the most common obstacles — age, money, physical condition, location, education, timing, esteem, fear of failure, fear of success, etc — are keeping you from going after what you want.

Obstacles are daunting when they’re nameless and without shape. When obstacles are abstract, it’s easy to start playing out worst-case scenarios in your head. And so the urge to run off stage is really strong. But to keep this from happening, focus on your past, present, and then look to your future. Make a list. Confront the abstract. Break it down into bite-size pieces and you can open up those doors which you think are closed.

What is the best way to handle much younger peers while maintaining their respect?

Just be yourself and don’t compare yourself with them. As long as you are honest and respectful of others and don’t try to be what you’re not, you’ll get along fine with people of every age. Show respect and you’ll receive it in return.

Try to get the calendar out of your life. It is only useful for determining how many candles you get on your next cake.

If anybody in the work force is pre-occupied about your age and not what you offer, they are the one with a problem, not you.

How do retirees avoid coming across as an old fogey who is trying to hang on when he should hang it up?

That’s a self-centered reaction. They probably couldn’t care less. As long as you do your job no one will care about your age.

Own the success you’ve had so far in life. When you rejoin the work force, you come in as a general (not a private); your instincts are sharper, decision-making better.

The only thing you should be worrying about is picking up the salary check at the end of the week.

How do older adults stay abreast of the relevant technology and adapt to continuing technological change?

Almost every work place today will provide training for you in the technology they use. And today’s technology is incredibly user friendly. As long as you know how to send and receive an e-mail message you’ll be fine.

Finding and adapting to a new job isn’t painless. You may need to make sacrifices and compromises. You might need to learn new skills and jargon. And, it may take some time. But a new life of substance and meaning cannot be built in a day. This is one instance when a little pain and a bit of fear are probably good things.

Stephen Pollan is an attorney, life coach, financial consultant and the author of “Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire.”