Doing good work in the second half of life takes proper planning

It’s no secret that Baby Boomers are reinventing retirement and many plan to continue working past the point when earlier generations moved to the sidelines.

However, after raising their families and building their careers, many boomers want the work they pursue in the second half of their life to differ from the first half. According to “The New Face of Work” survey by the MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures, 53 percent of all adults age 50 to 70 say they may work in retirement.

Surprisingly, the survey also revealed that half of all Americans age 50 to 70 are interested in taking jobs – now and in retirement – that would improve the quality of life in their communities.

What jobs interested respondents? According to the study: 78 percent were interested in helping the poor, the elderly and others in need; 56 percent were interested in dealing with health issues; 55 percent were interested in teaching or other educational positions; and 45 percent were interested in working in a youth program.

Another survey finding was that respondents sought second-half careers that would provide income, help them improve the community, keep them involved with other people and give them a sense of purpose.

Like this growing group of Americans, you may want to do “good work” in the second half of your life but aren’t sure what you want to do or what positions are available. If you want to invest your time, talent and experience in work that benefits the community and adds meaning to your life, consider these ideas:

Define your dreams and create a roadmap for retirement – As you envision your retirement, ask yourself: What am I passionate about? How do I want to spend my time? Who do I want to spend time with? How do I want to make a lasting mark? What do I want to pass on to others?

If conducted prior to retirement, such a self-assessment can help you prepare emotionally and financially for the future. The “Dream Book,” a new retirement planning tool from Ameriprise Financial, is based on the idea that writing down your dreams increases your likelihood of achieving them. Available via, the book features a self-guided process for defining your dreams.

Assess your skills and experience and consider how to use them in a new way – After years of identifying yourself with a certain job or a specific profession, it can be challenging to see yourself and your background in a different light. Are you good at organizing, supervising people or talking on the phone?

Consider how you can leverage your capabilities and interests to benefit others. For example, you could put your business skills to work helping operate a nonprofit’s cleaning service or consignment store. On the other hand, you may want to completely change your career path and need retraining. Investigate what the training involves, how long it will take and how much it will cost.

Test drive your dream before you quit your day job – Before making a major commitment or life change, consider pursuing your passion on a smaller scale first. Explore your desired role or organization through a volunteer position, internship, part-time job or temporary post. If available, you may want to take advantage of a sabbatical from your current job to try out your options before resigning.

Be flexible – No matter how passionate you are about your dreams, some goals like becoming a renowned artist, publishing a book or working as a professional athlete may not be realistic for you. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t realize your dream another way.

Perhaps you could teach painting at a local arts center, write for a community newspaper or coach the youth athletic league. If there are no paying positions available in your preferred area, consider volunteer roles or internships while continuing to network and search for desired job openings.

Think about time and money in new ways — expect to face trade-offs as you pursue “good work” and jobs that serve society. Perhaps you’ll consider working for a lower salary in exchange for health benefits, meaningful work, shorter hours or a more flexible schedule.

If you are already retired, your Social Security may help you balance a decline in income. Instead of working full time, you may want to negotiate a part-time schedule, seasonal work, or project or contract arrangements. Another option is cycling between periods of leisure and work so that you can balance earning an income with extended trips and time spent with friends and family.

Find the right nonprofit match — Since there are about 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S., you have a lot of choice if you want to work for a nonprofit. How do you find the right fit for you and your dreams? Start by identifying the issues you care about and the organizations that address them; then, assess how your credentials and capabilities fit with their missions.

Explore websites to find out more about the organizations and stay abreast of job openings, events and volunteer opportunities. Some community colleges and local universities also offer informative courses on nonprofit organizations.

Put a price tag on your retirement lifestyle — everyone has dreams but not everyone realizes them. Envisioning your ideal retirement is a great first step but you also need to consider other action steps too, like how you will pay for your lifestyle, live your dreams and pass on what is important to you.

Additionally, the study revealed that people who sought help from financial advisors were generally more positive in their outlook for retirement and better prepared financially than those without professional advice.

The ability to do “good work” in the second half of your life involves much more than acknowledging your passions and dreams – it takes planning and creativity to prepare emotionally and financially for a meaningful future.

(Contact Dena Shapiro Frenkel CRPC, Ameriprise Financial Service 410-664-5480 or Dena’s website is located at This information is provided for informational purposes only. The information is intended to be generic in nature and should not be applied or relied upon in any particular situation without the advice of your tax, legal and/or your financial advisor. Neither Ameriprise Financial nor its advisors or representatives provide tax or legal advice. The views expressed may not be suitable for every situation. Consult with qualified tax and legal advisors concerning your own situation.)