Embracing the Mid-Life Riser: Redefining Success in the Second Act of Your Career

Studies show that, long before our 50th birthday, we want to work differently. If conditions are met, we are happy to work longer, even beyond the official retirement age.  For most of us, the retirement cliff does not work anymore.

For some, the perspective of retirement is attractive. It gives hope for a better, more relaxed future, with plenty of time to do the things they love. So why do you feel a tingle in your stomach from the perspective of being “out” at a given date? As a skilled professional, are you a product with an expiration date? Do your competencies vanish at sixty-something? Does your appetite to contribute dry out the day you have covered the legal number of quarters? The truth is, there is an abyss between how people see and feel themselves, and the mandatory path they are herded into.

Another deadly effect of the standard retirement age is that, if you happen to be in the labor market after 50, you enter an undescribed grey zone. Just a few years earlier, you were a searched-for, high-potential professional. You worked your ass off to improve your skills and climb the ladder. But for some reason, you are starting to hear things like “too expensive”, “lack of technology skills” and all sorts of polite variations of “too old”. The rich CV that you hold like a trophy is becoming a burden. You catch yourself shortening the “Education” and Early jobs” sections. You avoid putting dates in front of milestones, especially the ones from the past century.

It does not have to be this way. Between a full-time, highly competitive rat race, and a life of leisure, there has to be something that works for you. This something is not published as a job opening. It requires some serious work to figure out what your next step is, and the sooner the better. Seniority at work and experience of life are blessings. But in the perspective of creating something entirely new and highly subjective, these assets can stand in your way. Beliefs and motivations that have helped you get to a point of success may not be that useful to create a fulfilling second act. Some parts of yourself have been extended and nurtured to get you where you are. Some parts, on the contrary, have been ignored. Now is the time to acknowledge them. Now is the time to activate these talents and evaluate a more integrative new life project. Maybe you crave meaningful work, maybe you want more impact in your engagement. And likely, you value your health, you are more aware of your personal needs and you long for and a better work-life balance.  “Think big” is a concept to re-visit with an open mind. “big” is not the opposite of “small” but the opposite of “conventional, one-size-fits-all, black-and-white, finished”. Opportunities for an unconventional, fulfilling second act of life are out there, invisible to the eyes which have not been opened, yet. And this is great news because the world needs your experience and your talent.

Are you ready to become a mid-life riser?

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