What Is an Encore Career? Redefining Your Career After 55

Retirement Planning   |   By HumanGood

smiling woman working at a retail store

With age comes wisdom — and often, more resources than you ever had as a young person. An encore career — a second career path typically taken later in life — is not just about starting a new job or a career pivot. It can also be a powerful chance to make a difference in the world, build community or finally realize the dreams that you may have pushed aside when you were younger. 

When surgeons Haren and Pratima retired, they knew they wanted to make a difference in the world. In their home country of India, the need for quality medical care is immense, and they’ve spent the last 20 years trying to fill the gap. 

“We were both raised by parents who lived by a generous philosophy of selfless work for others, so we are honoring their legacy by helping to make the world a better place,” Haren said. Since 2003, they’ve provided free healthcare to more than 100,000 people. 

Haren and Pratima, residents of Rydal Park & Waters, are part of the encore career generation — people who are building new and different careers after 55 and often well into retirement. 

An encore career can look like starting a new career, launching a business or moving into consulting. For others, it’s all about volunteer work and board appointments — and maybe even running for political office. Could an encore career be your next act? 


Benefits of an Encore Career

In one survey, 57% of Americans reported that they want to keep working after retirement. Gone are the days of lazy, quiet retirements — and for good reason. An encore career offers a myriad of benefits. 

You’ll earn money, of course, and in tough economic times, this is a powerful incentive. Earning more money in retirement isn’t just about the paycheck, though. Even a few extra years of earning can significantly pad your retirement accounts — especially if, like most workers, you’re at the height of your earning power when you retire. That could mean more opportunities to spend retirement doing what you love. And it doesn’t have to take up all of your time, either. Some people’s encore careers include only part-time or consulting work or occasional freelancing. 

The wealth of other benefits to an encore career include: 

  • The freedom to try something new in a low-stress and low-stakes environment: If you’ve already had a successful career and saved for retirement, switching roles or starting a business may feel a lot less threatening than they once did. 

  • The ability to share your wisdom with the world and build a life that is authentically yours: Dr. Sara, a resident of The Terraces at Los Altos, is spending her next act as a motivational speaker and communications expert supporting women to live their best lives. 

  • Better emotional and physical health: Your career helps you build and maintain relationships and challenges you to continue learning and growing. It may also keep you more physically active. Taken together, these lifestyle choices can improve your health and reduce your risk of some chronic illnesses. They also nurture a deep sense of purpose that can help you build a more joyful life. 

“I believe we are on the cusp of major social change, and it’s very exciting,” Dr. Sara, author of the book “Prime Spark: Women Over 55, It’s Our Time!” said. “We are about to see the ascendency of women over 55 standing up and saying, ‘OK, it’s time for a change. We are dynamic, involved, contributing, powerful, desirable and vital to our communities.’ I wrote this book for older women who want to thrive, change the way our culture depicts us, and make the best choices during our prime years.”


Keys to Success for Your Encore Career

Is an encore career right for you? As with any other choice in life, it’s important to ensure you have the resources necessary to succeed. Here are our tips for making the most of your next big career challenge: 

  • Choose something you love. You’ve worked hard your entire life, and retirement is a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Consider switching to something you always avoided because it’s not particularly lucrative or starting that business you’ve long dreamed of.

  • Pursue something you’re good at or have the right background to succeed in. While nothing’s stopping you from returning to school, you’ll have the best luck and the most time to devote to your work if you select a career for which you already have the necessary skills. If you do decide to go back to school, you can make the most of your time by picking a field you love so that work doesn’t feel like work. In many cases, you may find skills you mastered in your career transfer well to a new career path (and a new degree). 

  • Ensure the right infrastructure is in place. If you’re starting a new career, you might not want to juggle work and your personal life or devote all of your free time to household labor. Consider what you need to make your new career fit into the life you’re dreaming of — whether that’s having a supportive spouse or partner, downsizing your house, moving to a senior living community or something else entirely.

Erin, a former law firm research librarian, found her perfect retirement fit at Hillside, a HumanGood community. Her mother was once a resident. Now, she and her sister live together in the community, where Erin continues to work part time for ABC News in New York. 

“Going part time and doing research remotely for a national news outlet is a dream come true for me,” Erin said. “It frees me up to get involved at Hillside and also have some time to do what I love to do, which is read historical fiction novels, walk the nearby trails and spend time with family and friends.”


How Living in a Life Plan Community Supports Encore Careerists

You don’t have to retire or even slow down to enjoy the benefits of a Life Plan Community. These active, engaging communities support deep relationships and nourishing connections — both key ingredients in the recipe for healthy aging.

The right Life Plan Community can also make it much easier to build the encore career of your dreams. You’ll enjoy all of the benefits of retirement: luxury living, less physical and mental household labor, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy time with loved ones — even as you continue to work. Life Plan Communities empower you to live your best life by offering: 

  • A maintenance-free lifestyle: This makes it easier to focus on work, family and everything else you love.  

  • Easy community and socialization: You don’t have to spend a couple of hours planning a get-together with friends. Instead, just head to a community event or grab some food in a community space for low-stress socialization at home (without all the cleanup and meal preparation). 

  • The ability to travel with ease: Simply lock your door and go. Your home will be safe while you’re gone, and you’ll return to a welcoming community of people who are happy to see you. 

  • Healthy living: Healthy living doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Life Plan Communities offer a range of healthy meal plans, walkable campuses and access to health-focused amenities, such as a fitness center and pool. Squeeze in a quick workout between clients and enjoy a healthy working lunch without any additional effort or expense. 

There’s no single, “right” way to retire. The next chapter of your life is entirely up to you. Life Plan Communities help you attain your goals — no matter what they are and no matter how those goals might shift over the course of your life.

What is a life plan community?

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