Sunsetters are people in the later chapters of their careers. They already have almost 30+ years of work experience. They have climbed the ladder, sometimes several ladders.
Just when the end was in sight, almost within reach, they had visions of no more rush hours or early meetings. They thought of lazy days in the garden or on the golf course. They were looking forward to directing their talents to meaningful work vs. the bottom line, and all of a sudden the bottom falls out: of their job, their career, and their retirement fund. Now they have to stay in the game for just a while longer.
So now what do they do?
- First they should emotionally come to terms with the fact that things didn’t pan out like they hoped and planned. That means working through the anger, bitterness, sadness and disappointment. This can mirror a grief and loss response.
- Embrace the current situation. Realize that their plans and dreams aren’t gone, they may be delayed or need to make way for new plans and dreams. Life isn’t over; it just may be different.
- Reassess what is important at this stage of their life and career. Consider health, family, lifestyle and how that fits with their work interests, preferred schedule and financial needs.
- Look back on past accomplishments and times in their career that were most fulfilling. This is affirming and can reinforce self confidence and lead to clues as to what’s next.
- Look broadly and open mindedly at all the possibilities in front of them. They don’t have to just jump back to the same thing. Now might be a time for something completely different and new for this final chapter in their career.
- Re-engage their network. People who know them well may offer great insights as to next steps. Network connections can be advocates or just keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities for the sunsetter.
- Create a plan together with their spouse. This could include starting a business together, running a non profit or creating a partnership.
- Consider coupling 2 or 3 interests together that form a portfolio career, which is a combination of income streams from various interest areas that all together form a career.
There is no longer a clear delineation between working and retirement. There is a space in between for sunsetters to end their careers in a productive yet fulfilling way as they continue to add income to their nest egg.
Karen Kodzik, M.A., is the owner and a career counselor at Cultivating Careers, which serves individuals and organizations with active career management coaching, skills for job transitions at different life stages, and tips and seminars for the families of job seekers. She speaks frequently about how to navigate the changing job market. She is formally trained as a counselor and practically trained through business experience in human resources and management. Find more tips at Karen’s website http://www.cultivatingcareers.com/ or her weekly Career Buzz blog www.cultivatingcareers.com/blog.
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