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10 Ways to Screw Up the Encore


Encore careers are hot. But there are hazards that can destroy the dream and dishearten even the most steadfast.

Encore careers are hot. Boomers, particularly, are creating the next chapters in their lives. But, there are hazards that can destroy the dream and dishearten even the most steadfast.

Encore careers are not like performance encores, where the audience shouts and screams, encouraging performers to play their old favorites one more time. No, here are 10 ways to get it wrong.

1. Start doing it the day after you retire. Like a retirement savings plan, the time to think about your encore career is at the beginning of the first one, not the end of it.

2. Thinking that the skills in your first career will make you successful in your second career. If you really want to do something different, it probably will require new knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

3. Thinking that just taking a course will be enough. Education will be but one component of the mix. You will also need networks, mentors, resources, and experiential learning that is not too expensive.

4. Relying on the same old favorites. Your old network will be helpful, but you will need an ever expanding open network to show you the way.

5. Thinking you have the same amount of time as the first act. No you don't. You can't afford to think that you can spend the next 30 years to become famous overnight.

6. Making it personal. Find an unmet need and fill the gap. It's not about you at this stage of the game.

7. Traveling alone. Engage and bring others along on the journey who can benefit from your wisdom, experience, and insights.

8. Focusing on money and not meaning. You won't be asked to do an encore if you've disappointed the audience in the main act.

9. Being grumpy. Old grumpy people were probably young grumpy people.

10. Allowing someone or something else to determine your happiness. Now is the time to look forward to solitude and your own thoughts.

I'm an Eagles fan. They could play Hotel California, Desperado, or Take it Easy into the midnight hours and I'd still want more. But unlike the lyrics, when it comes to your encore career, you can check in and leave the first one.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice