Category Archives: Career

Baby Boomers Changing Careers: Happiest Jobs

Are you singing “I can’t get no satisfaction” when it comes to your job? Do you find yourself daydreaming about a career change? Do you feel bored, dissatisfied, or exhausted? Do you have the career burnout blues? Or have you recently lost your job or retired and want to keep working but yearn to change directions?

career changeYou’re not alone. Many baby boomers feel the same way. Nonetheless, a career change can be scary. Fear of failure, financial concerns, and perhaps a less than supportive spouse prevents many from leaving their comfort zones.

On the other hand, the biggest rewards come from taking the biggest risks, says life coach Caroline Adams Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life. “Otherwise, you may be filled with regret at the end of your life—and that prospect helps put steel in your spine,” she says.

Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially, and achieve financial security in retirement. That leaves a couple of decades after 50 to work. Perhaps that’s why more and more boomers are contemplating an “encore career” to pursue their passions and create a fulfilling life they can enjoy.

But is it really possible? Certainly!

The American Institute for Economic Research looked at people who changed or tried to change jobs after age 45 and found that 82% of people aged 47 and older who took up new careers in the last two years were successful, and 50% saw a salary increase.

“Don’t view your age or your experience as a liability. It’s a benefit to companies to have a multi-generational workforce,” says Oriana Vogel, vice president of global talent acquisition at American Express. “One of our goals… is to hire employees that can provide a variety of different perspectives and experiences.” Age doesn’t come into consideration when it comes down to hiring the best people, she says.

A report from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement found that “boomers are just as likely or more likely to be engaged in their work than are the younger Generation X or Millennial generations.”

So, yes, it’s possible to find a different career you love after the age of 50. But which job will make you the happiest? To help you decide and perhaps narrow your choices, I did a bit of research on America’s happiest and unhappiest jobs:

THE HAPPIEST JOBS

Kununu created a “Career Happiness Index,” looking at nearly 200,000 employee reviews from 2016 to name three of the nation’s happiest industries of 2016.

Public administration topped the list, perhaps because government employees enjoy great benefits, hours, vacation policies, job stability, and support from management. In addition, employees felt that they were working for the common good, serving the public.

Consulting is a booming industry with a projected growth rate of 18%. Workers found their work challenging and enjoyed collaborating with others.

ARtistInterestingly to me, since I work as a writer, the arts and entertainment industry made the top three. Creative pursuits may not make you rich but could help you be happier.

CareerBliss created a ranking of the Happiest and Unhappiest Jobs in 2016. At the top of their list were recruiters.

“Finding great jobs for other people creates a happy work environment for recruiters…many recruiters find joy in helping others find jobs and earning bonuses for doing so,” said CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge.

A USA Today article summarized job satisfaction as jobs involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others as well as creative pursuits. Research published by NORC at the University of Chicago listed the top five positions for job satisfaction, in ascending order, clergy, physical therapists, firefighters, educational administrators, and artists.

THE UNHAPPIEST JOBS

unhappy womanAccording to kununu’s data, professionals in healthcare/pharmaceutical, legal advice and real estate/facility management score the lowest. CareerBliss listed sales account manager as Unhappiest Job. Rounding out the bottom five are security officer, merchandiser, cashier, and driver.

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A NEW CAREER 

A word of caution. Remember, an encore career that brings you happiness isn’t all about pursuing your passions. As the research above proves, when considering your choices, don’t forget to consider practical work issues such as job security, pay, benefits, work-life balance, and office environment. For example, just because you love a hobby doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it once you add the stress of making a living. Take it from me, I chose to write professionally – and no regrets – but it wasn’t near as fun and carefree as when writing was something I did for my own pleasure.

Another option to think about? As I wrote in a previous blog, many boomers approaching retirement are choosing to become entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses. They want to continue working – but on their own terms.

In fact, a new Gallop study showed adults over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the U.S.  An overwhelming majority — 83% — say their main reason for launching a venture was a lifestyle choice or to increase their income. This poll suggests that boomers are searching for independence, a flexible schedule that leaves room for volunteering and traveling. And they want to pursue their interests and passions before it’s too late.

Keep your mind open and be creative. Consider wearing more than one hat and find a customized solution that puts you in control of your life. For example, you could combine writing, public speaking, teaching, and consulting. The Internet has opened up new freelancing opportunities.

The good news? Despite the hard work and dedication required to start and run a small business, 94 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs are happy being small business owners, according to a new survey by the online small business community, Manta.

POSSIBLE PITFALLS

Don’t rush into any decisions or immediately quit your job. Prepare and take it one step at a time.

Depending on your financial situation, “you might have to do it [a career change] incrementally,” says Kerry Hannon, author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50-Plus. “You need a job that pays the bills now. Then, on the side, take the classes you need, build those skills you need,” she suggests.

Do the necessary research. Learn about the new career you’re interested in, including pay, job satisfaction, and trends in the industry as well as the skills, qualifications, certifications, and credentials you’ll need. Strategically network with people in the field. Keep your skills up-to-date and utilize LinkedIn and other social media sites.

Internships and volunteer work can help you gain hands-on experience and test-drive a new career path before quitting a job.

Keep these tips in mind and you can move forward with confidence to reinvent your life and start that new career!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Home Office Design Tips for Writers: Crafting a Creation Station

March madness has struck! My writerly pals and I are spring cleaning our work space and sharing the results of our labors this week in our Creation Station blog hop. Hopefully, you can find some ideas and inspiration, then visit the awesome bloggers listed at the end of this post, who also invite you into their work space.

Before we get started, the photo below shows my office space:

Home Office Photo 11

Readers of my blog know that my husband and I recently built and moved into our new home. After a tumultuous year, I was striving for serenity in my new digs. The colors are reminiscent of the beach which I find tremendously soothing.

My former house had an extra room dedicated to my office. It was Old World style with an over-sized dark wood desk, rustic colored paint on the walls, and built-in bookshelves. However, my life has changed drastically and we went from being empty nesters to a multi-generational home. (Which is working well – but that is a subject for another blog.)

Julie Office Photo 5As a result, now my office consists of a corner in my master bedroom which is also decorated in light, breezy, beachy colors. As you can see from the photo, while my old office had shelves and file cabinets, and a large printer stand, my current office is much simpler.

In today’s world of technology who needs bulky file cabinets and a chunky computer? I now use a lap top, and must confess, on a normal workday as a freelance writer, start writing in my bed, move to my desk, and end up in a cushy chair. Nonetheless, during the hours I’m sitting at my desk, I actually like this office better than my previous one.

As a full-time freelance writer, I wanted my office to not only be functional, but inspirational. I wanted a place that invites me to come in and enjoy the simple satisfaction and joy of writing. My home office is still a work in progress, but I wanted to give you a peek and share a few tips you can use to set up your own creation station:

It’s All About Location

Whether you write or blog full-time, run a business from your home, or write after-hours as a hobby, designate a special space where you feel inspired and creative. If necessary, it can be a small corner in a bedroom. Just make sure it is tucked away in a quiet area where you can think and won’t be distracted.

Julie Office Photo 3Surround Yourself with Inspiration

When I first started writing and was just starting to get published, I had a board above my desk with clippings, acceptance letters and even encouraging rejection letters to help me remember early accomplishments and not lose my passion. It worked.

Julie Office Photo 2

 

So hang a few inspirational sayings, a beautiful painting, or surround yourself with photos that make you smile above your desk for extra motivation. I’m SO not crafty, but I wrapped an inexpensive bulletin board in gorgeous fabric and ribbon for this purpose. It was really easy!

Choose Pretty Accessories

Julie Office Photo 4

 

Bring in furniture and accessories that demonstrate your style and personality. Start with a pretty comfy chair and then add a pretty lamp for extra light, trendy notepads, a vase with flowers, or a decorative waste basket.

Add cherished knick-knacks like my Mom’s silk flowers and old pencil holder. Think about colors, textures, and items that will help your productivity and provide a sense of well-being.

 

Julie Office Photo 9Get Organized

This is especially important when you have minimal space. Use floating shelves on the walls for reference books, vertical file folders to keep important papers within arm’s reach, and a pretty basket to tame your mail, notes, and papers.

Julie Office Photo 10

 

My organizer I use for this purpose  was inexpensive and purchased from Target. As you can see, it not only holds papers and files but also my printer.

So there you go. Hopefully, I’ve shared some tips you can use to craft your own personal creation station.

For more ideas and inspiration about writerly work spaces, please visit these #Gr8blogs today:

 

Auden Johnson

My Creation Station

Take a tour of this author’s muse station – which happens to be in her living room like many a writer – and her wonderful world building wall. Auden even includes a photo of her adorable dog, Oreo, who either serves as company or an obstruction.

Cat Michaels

Be Inspired with a Visit to my Creation Station

Cat invites you to come and get comfy as you take a look at her creative space. A lovely vintage maple hutch from the 1960s serves as display and storage unit for photos, office supplies and school visit material.  Love her eclectic mix of old, new, and tech. Cat even includes a video tour for your viewing pleasure.

Corrina Holyoake

Station Creation Blog Hop – Our Creative Spaces

After years of working out of her kitchen/dining area filled with an endless supplies of art materials, Corrina moved and was able to carve out her own little haven with a lovely calming vibe as she lives out her dream as an author and illustrator.

K. Lamb

My Corner of Imagination

This author shares her magical place in a comfy, leather chair that instantly transports her into a world of make believe where anything can happen. Her tips include surrounding yourself with a bit of whimsy, a time-out corner, a jar of jelly beans, and a fort.

Leigh Sherin, Writer

Starlight & Alchemy; The Anatomy of a Workspace

Leigh poetically describes her typical day bustling between family and farm life and squeezing in those creative moments that we all crave. “My little workspace is what I have,” she writes. “It cradles my visionary spirit, laying down a buffer to the reckless and breakneck outside world.”

If you have a blog about designing a work space, we’d love to have you post your blog link in the comments section below, and we’ll give you some blog loving!

 

 

 

Free Snacks at Work Ticket to Happiness

It’s the little things in life that make us happy.

Want proof?

Working Woman EatingAccording to a new study by grocery-delivery service, Peapod, companies that provide free food and fun snacks have happier employees.

The survey of more than 1000 full-time office workers found that 56% employees are “extremely” or “very happy” with their current job; however, that number jumped to 67% among those who had access to free food.

You might say, well, yeah, duh!

But I find this study interesting. Oh sure, you can say, of course these employees were happy because as humans we like to pig out. However, I think there’s more to it.

First of all, having treats like popcorn, cookies, granola, yogurt, and chips would make work feel like an edible playground and bring a sense of fun to the office. We could all use some more of that.

After a seltzer machine was installed at the public relations firm, InkHouse, employees told co-founder Beth Monaghan that the machine was “life changing.” And while she says they were slightly kidding, still, “people just love it.”

Happy WorkerIt helps employees be more excited about coming to work,” says Monaghan, whose company, in addition to the seltzer machine, also gets weekly deliveries of organic fruit and has soda, chips, cookies and a popcorn machine on hand.

I think the other reason the free snacks work so well is because everyone wants to feel valued. Some free food helps businesses show their appreciation, a personal interest in their employees, and a collaborative spirit.

“It shows a personal investment and that need to make sure that they’re happy here and they have everything they need to do a good job,” says Danielle Mahoney, director of human resources for software company Appeagle in an interview for USA Today. The business provides free breakfast and lunch plus has an internal communication system where employees can request specific snacks which are always available in the office kitchen.

Just goes to show just a little bit of daily joy in our lives goes a long way.

The study showed that only 16% of employees said they get free snacks and treats at work. Let’s take note and jump on board businesses! Happy employees are productive employees. And if you’re one of those 84% who works for a business that wouldn’t dream of providing free food – or you work at home or are retired – don’t despair.

There are plenty of ways to use treats to bring yourself a bit of enjoyment every day.

Make your favorite breakfast, eat it outside on the patio, and listen to calm music to start your day right. Buy lunch for a co-worker or a friend and enjoy their look of pleasure. Try baking some cookies and bringing them to the office to spread the joy. There’s nothing stopping you from bringing your own fun snack to work or fixing up some delectable treat at home.  Or simply treat yourself to a delightful scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta in the middle of the afternoon.

The point is to find ways to bring a daily dose of delight in your life. Then do it!

Images courtesy of Ambro and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Retired Baby Boomers Becoming Happy Entrepreneurs

After retiring, baby boomers are not content to sit in a rocking chair. We are changing the rules and redefining old age. Growing up during a time when everything seemed possible, perhaps it’s not surprising that we refuse to grow up and grow old, feeling a bit like Peter Pan. 

Retired boomers can be seen white water rafting, running marathons, zip lining, and traveling to exotic and adventurous places. 

And, perhaps surprisingly, many approaching retirement are starting our own businesses. Many boomers want to continue working – but on our own terms.

Starting New Business

A new Gallop study showed adults over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the U.S. In fact, boomers are twice as likely as millennials to say they plan to start a business in the next year.

What’s surprising about this study is that the majority of boomers are working a full decade longer than their parents. So, why do boomers, who have already worked years and years for established businesses, want to start over and launch an “encore career” as an entrepreneur?

When Gallup studied nearly 2,000 U.S. baby boomers, including entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, they found that an overwhelming majority — 83% — say their main reason for launching a venture was a lifestyle choice or to increase their income.

This poll suggests that we’re searching for independence and want to pursue our interests and passions before it’s too late. Money also plays a role. Many boomers haven’t saved enough for retirement and are looking for ways to make some extra money.

Yet, it seems that our desires are outweighing practical choices when it comes to choosing a new business.

Clearly, I’m in that category. I love working as a freelancer writer, but I’m not exactly getting rich. But still, I wouldn’t trade my freedom and happiness following my creative passions for a bigger paycheck.

Likewise, boomers typically aren’t looking for a grueling, high-intensity, high-growth venture. “Very few are pursuing an idea for a new product or service that solves a problem or meets an unfulfilled need in the market — the type of business that would typically have immense growth potential,” the study’s authors wrote. “Perhaps for boomer entrepreneurs, these reasons reflect their current stage in life.”

Therein lies the hitch. Although we’re experienced in our careers, we boomers still have the same challenges and face the same risks as younger entrepreneurs. In addition, we’re looking to start businesses that will bring fulfillment and excitement to our lives which unfortunately doesn’t always equal income.

Start New Business With that in mind, if starting a new business is one of your dreams, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Consider the Challenges

Remember that running your own business is considerably different than working for a company.

You will face uncertainty and failure, the study’s authors point out.

Consider how hard you are willing to work, how you will acquire clients, how willing and adaptable you are to learning new skills, and how you will persuade others to buy your product or service.

Understand your strengths and vulnerabilities before diving in.

Make the Right Connections

Connect with local resources and network, network, network.

In most cities, the AARP and Small Business Administration offers information, services, and training to help older entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Also connect with other “encore” entrepreneurs’ professional networks.

Form a support group to get you through the rough times.

Take advantage of social media sites. Networking isn’t easy but it’s an essential key to success.

Seek Advice

Even though you may have a lot of work experience, entrepreneurs over the age of 50 will still benefit from working with a coach, mentor, or business adviser.

An established business owner can help you navigate through regulations and legal issues, develop marketing ideas, and learn how to promote your business in both traditional and new ways.

With all these challenges, will launching a new successful business make you happy?

Quite possibly. Despite the hard work and dedication required to start and run a small business, 94 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs are happy being small business owners, according to a new survey by the online small business community, Manta.

Now, that’s good news for you boomers with an entrepreneurial spirit!

Images courtesy of Ambro and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finding Contentment in Your Career

 

Image courtesy of  sdmania/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sdmania/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my last blog, I discussed the positive aspects of putting off retirement and working longer. But what if you’re stuck in a job you hate? Maybe you feel work just isn’t challenging or rewarding. The days are monotonous, tedious, and dull. Perhaps you feel underutilized as you repeatedly perform seemingly minute tasks.

Don’t give up hope. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t hate me for this first piece of advice, just give it some thought. Sometimes a job becomes uninteresting because you cease to be interested and engaged in work and therefore stop being innovative or creative. Try and look for ways to become more productive, take pride in your work, and involved in diversified activities. Honor the place you work for its ability to provide sustenance and put food on your table. Find satisfaction by striving for excellence. Be motivated to find ways to bring a smile to your face as well as bring some joy into the lives of your co-workers.

Research shows that people aren’t happy because they’re successful; they are successful because they are happy. Happier people are generally more motivated, easier to work with, and willing to tackle a difficult assignment. Once again, attitude comes to play – how you feel about your job and the people you work with will influence the quality of your work. You might also consider asking your supervisor what you can do to improve your skills and earn a promotion for a more satisfying, interesting, and rewarding position in the company.

Or maybe it’s time to reconsider your career path. Why not take a career aptitude test to determine which jobs match your skills, passions, and interests? Follow up by taking the necessary steps to attain the training you need by taking classes at your local community college or volunteering to get the experience you need. If you’ve always dreamed of following your passion, it’s never too late. Maybe you can scale back on your expenses to pursue a personally rewarding career that offers less money. Start saving money and make the necessary sacrifices now to support your endeavors.

Ron Klotchman, 49, is a boomer who did just that. He had been working at a desk job he found unfulfilling for 14 years as a customer service representative, call center trainer, and manager. As the company scaled back during the recent economic downturn and laid off most of its workers, his manager told Ron not to worry because his job was secure. Although that should have been good news, Ron had mixed feelings. He was simply burnt out and dreamed of becoming a full-time artist.

“One day I finally felt the new quotas at work were deliberately becoming unreachable,” Ron says. “I discussed quitting with my wife and within an hour made the decision.”

He is still happy with his decision to leave and has never looked back. “About 90 percent of the company got the ax and the few times I went back to visit, the misery in the eyes of the 10 people that were left in this tiny cramped room finally convinced me I was right,” he says. “Now I have no misgivings. My health has improved from greatly decreased stress. I stopped being angry all the time as I reclaimed my creative roots as a full time artist.”

With the support of his wife’s income and money from the sale of his home, Ron picks up odd jobs as an art model and teaching art classes and began showing his work at a co-op gallery. “I was able to make this life transition because we were financially solvent, frugal, and because I have been fatalistic since my father died suddenly when I was 31. I decided to live and be happy while I could because life is short.”

Maybe you can follow a similar path. Surprisingly, recent evidence suggests career changes work out well for the overwhelming majority of older workers. This is true whether they changed jobs to follow their passion or were forced to change careers due to the struggling economy. In fact, a recent AARP study found that older workers and retirees moving into different lines of work enjoyed their new jobs more – even if it meant less pay, fewer benefits, and lower prestige. Why? Career changes often result in reduced stress and flexible work schedules.

And finally, don’t become so invested in your job that you lose sight of your personal life. Look for happiness outside your job with people you love, volunteer work that gives you a sense of fulfillment, and opportunities for personal growth.

Why Boomers Can Be Positive About Working Longer

Image courtesy stock images/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy stock images/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, let’s talk about the bad news first. Financing our retirement is one of the major challenges we baby boomers face today. As Suze Orman often says on her show, most boomers will be unable to retire in their 50s and 60s like previous generations.

There are several different reasons for this new reality. The recent recession with its spike in unemployment took a toll on boomers’ bank accounts; our inheritances on average won’t be that significant; Social Security is on shaky ground while many traditional pension benefits are phasing out; and many shop-till-you-drop boomers simply haven’t saved enough money to last through retirements.

Combine the income crunch and lack of savings with the dramatic increase in life expectancy and it looks like many of us will be working into our 70s.

So what’s the good news? According to a recent Charles Schwab survey, about a third of those still working in their 60s don’t want to retire. A quarter of the respondents said this was “the happiest time in their working career.” “As you get older, the more you like your job,” noted Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, senior vice president of Schwab Community Services in an interview for US News. “Many of them said they’re happy with their jobs and want to be there,” she added.

Perhaps we can take a cue from some of the old folks who are working into their 60s and even their 70s and loving it. Unlike some unhappy boomers in their 50s who feel stuck in their jobs and are working for financial reasons instead of personal satisfaction, many in the older generation are discovering fulfillment in their careers. “There is a group of people who will continue working because they need the income, and they want to save up before dipping into Social Security and savings,” says Kerry Hannon, author of What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job. “And because we’re living longer and healthier, why not keep working?”

Hannon adds that as people age, they also start considering their legacy and what they can do to give back. Often, it’s by continuing to practice the skills they spent their careers building. Those who are in the position to do so, may work outside the constraints of a full-time job, by working part-time, starting a small business, or creating a small nonprofit organization. “It’s an opportunity to use your existing skills in a new way,” she says.

In fact, studies of healthy aging suggest that working to an older age could have a number of positive physical and psychological effects. Since most jobs require workers to engage in a number of productive and social activities, working longer can benefit us in a number of ways. For example, working can help us maintain meaning and a sense of purpose in life as well as adapt to aging.

Yup, once again it’s about the attitude folks. By the way, happiness is a critical factor for work. Studies show that happier people outperform unhappy people. That’s no surprise since happy people are generally more cooperative, productive, generous, and less self-centered. They work better with other people since they’re often willing to pitch in to help their colleagues and are typically more confident and assertive which makes them better leaders.

So maybe it’s time to quit pouting about working longer. Instead, let’s look for ways to create new opportunities and seek experiences that excite us and broaden our perspective.

Point taken, you might be thinking. But what if I have a monotonous, boring job that I absolutely hate? More on this in my next blog…