Wind River
Library and Nonprofit Consulting
Finding a Job
after 50

The complete
guide for graying
job seekers  Read
an interview with
the author in the
Feb. 19
BusinessWeek  
Click here for  
more information
Are you a baby boomer who can’t decide whether to retire or keep
working? There’s another option you may not have considered. Why
not make the plunge and discover your dream job?  Many of the
boomers and seniors who continue to work well past normal
retirement age, do it because they love their jobs. They get a lot of
happiness from being with other people and they feel the deep
satisfaction of doing something that really matters. If you are
eagerly looking forward to retirement, you probably don’t feel this
sense of satisfaction. Are you feeling bored with your job? Do you
think of your job as nothing more than a daily grind, an endless
succession of blue Mondays?

There was a time, not so long ago, when you automatically retired at
the age of sixty or sixty-five, if you were fortunate enough to reach
this ripe old age.  Today’s boomers are healthier than any past
generation and they’re definitely not ready for the rocking chair. In
fact, it’s not unusual anymore to find seniors still passionately
involved in their work at the age of eighty.  

If the idea of finding your dream job appeals to you, take some time
to prepare yourself.  This doesn’t mean quitting your present job.  As
you probably know from past experience, having to admit that you’re
unemployed can be the kiss of death when you’re applying for
another job.  Consider carefully whether you can endure your
present job for awhile longer. If you can, your transition will be a lot
easier.   

Let’s say that you have decided to remain in your present job for the
time being. This will give you a good opportunity to treat it as a kind
of laboratory. If you’ve worked in the same kind of environment for
many years, you will want to be sure you don’t take it with you when
you leave. After all those years, it may have become part of you.  
Have you internalized the competition and distrust that you’re trying
to get away from? At least part of what you experience on the job
comes from inside you. To change your environment, you have to
change yourself.  When you resign or retire from your present job,
leave those neurotic attitudes behind. Use this time while you’re
planning the future to come to terms with yourself. Look on your
coworkers as human beings, not as competitors.  Some boomers
have found that once they changed their own attitudes, their jobs
changed as well.  If no one and no situation can make them feel
stressed or angry, they may find they no longer need to make a job
change.

Since you are using your workplace as a laboratory, start making
lists of what you like and what you dislike about your job. At the end
of a day, mentally review the hours you spent at work.  When did you
feel really involved in what you were doing? What gave you the most
satisfaction or was downright unpleasant? Does your job take full
advantage of your special talents? Do you have a real aptitude for
the work? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you’re
probably pursuing a career that meets at least some of your needs
and just requires some tweaking.  If, however, you’re starting to feel
like a square peg in a round hole, then a change of scene won’t
solve your problems. Over the years, you have changed. You don’t
stop growing when you become an adult. You have continued to
change and you’ve developed different parts of yourself that maybe
you didn’t even know about when you were a young job seeker.

When you were eighteen or nineteen choosing a college major, you
knew very little about yourself. You were easily influenced by other
people, as well as by books, television and movies.  Maybe you
choose a career track because you admired a teacher or television
personality.  Maybe your parents told you you had all the makings of
a doctor, rabbi, or whatever profession they wanted to see you take
up.  On the negative side, you may have been told by a teacher that
you had no aptitude for a particular career. Whoever made this
pronouncement just meant that you didn’t resemble his or her
image. This person, who may have changed the course of your life,
probably knew little about you and your unique talents. Because we
know so little about ourselves when we’re young, we tend to believe
what we are told. As you look back, can you see a turning point, a
point when you made a choice that stopped you in your tracks?

Who are you really? If you look carefully, you’ll find many clues in
your own life experiences. Take a good look at your past
successes, both in your personal life and in your work life; patterns
should start to emerge. You were happier and more productive in
one job than another. You need an organized environment to be
effective or maybe you’re just the opposite and like a looser, less
structured job with fewer rules and more room to express your
individuality. Do you like to work alone or were you at your best
when you were part of a team?

What would you be happier doing?  What else is out there? If you
had chosen a different path, would you have been happier? Maybe
over the years, you have occasionally remembered a youthful dream
and wondered if you should act on it.  However, each time you
considered living your dream, you backed off. You decided that you
had advanced too far on the career ladder to start all over again.  
Maybe right now, as you consider a job change, that dream remains
stubbornly in the back of your mind.  Thousands of boomers and
seniors have decided they’re not too old to begin new career.  They’
re healthier, they’re smarter, they know themselves better. There’s
no time like the present!
Baby Boomers
Find the Jobs of their Dreams