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Does your career need a second act?


(MoneyWatch) Every January, I wind up paging through various financial magazines with their annual investment guides. Much of this investing advice seems aimed at one goal: Retiring. That is, having enough capital to quit paid work and spend your time on the golf course or staring at whatever ocean vista your wealth has afforded you.

But that's not the only way to spend your golden years. As the nature of work changes, and as people live longer, a growing number of people are considering a second career. People don't just want to make a living, they want to make a difference. But how do you do that?

Into this gap comes Marci Alboher's new book, the Encore Career Handbook. Alboher, a lawyer turned journalist turned non-profit executive, has experience with switching careers. She also calls on the deep expertise of, her employer and a non-profit that promotes second acts and offers prizes to people making a difference in the second half of life. The book describes a number of encore careers -- from non-profit work to government work to entrepreneurship -- and how to retrain with new roles in mind. It helps baby boomers nearing retirement age think through their finances, because one appeal of career second acts, it must be said, is that many people lack the capital to completely quit working for the rest of their lives. She deals with the problem of age discrimination, with answers to tough questions you might get asked in job interviews. For instance, a hiring manager who suggests you're overqualified can be told "I get a lot of satisfaction in doing something well -- whatever the job. And second, I see many challenges in this role," which you can then name.

The idea is that if baby boomers and others change the story about what later life looks like, they can ease generational tension -- and also help our economy grow. After all, when more people participate in the labor force, they create wealth and opportunities for other people.

"Keep in mind that your transition is not only deeply personal but also part of a bigger story," writes Alboher. "As you find ways to use your talent and experience to do something useful in the world, you're also participating in a growing social movement that may just change what it means to hit midlife. You have the opportunity for a triple win: You can make an impact through your work. You can experience the sense of renewal that comes with doing something new and significant. And you can help change expectations -- for future generations -- about what success in and beyond midlife looks like."

What would your second act be?

Photo courtesy flickr user cybaea

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