Is it Time For Your Encore?

Defining your work-life in retirement.

Staring out his office window, Bob was caught in a daze as he reflected over the last 45 years spent building a fulfilling career. The faces of all the people he had met and built relationships with over the years flashed through his mind. Today was circled in red on his calendar—the day he planned to retire. Everyone around Bob was excited for his retirement but, Bob wasn’t. While he was looking forward to traveling more with his wife, deep down something didn’t feel right.

The retirement dream was built on the idea of living a life of leisure—the end of working life. Retirement tended to be shorter in duration for past generations, too. Today, many adults reject this vision of leisure and question whether 20 or more years of retirement or not working is desirable or even practical. Instead, they look forward to years of continued good health and an active life of purpose and meaning—perhaps even an encore career.1

Starting an encore career is a growing trend for many people in the boomer generation. Boomers are redefining what retirement means today and for future generations. Instead of ending a working life boomers are redefining their working life by shifting to work that is more meaningful. For Bob, an encore career could be just what he needs to ease the fear of transitioning into retirement.

What is an Encore Career?

The concept of an encore career dates back to 1997 when Civic Ventures—a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization—introduced the idea. Since then, millions of older adults have found innovative ways to begin a new career later in life.

Encore careers often include part-time, full-time, or volunteer work in the non-profit sector, consulting, or business startups.2 Encore careers can provide additional financial security, personal meaning, and social impact during retirement.3 Some companies today offer their employees part-time work or a defined retirement transition process with reduced hours and pay to ease the transition to full retirement.

Why Begin an Encore Career

Some adults return to work due to financial need. Others begin their encore career for personal reasons such as the desire to mentor others, share their expertise, contribute to something meaningful, or continue learning. Having a job provides individuals with structure and social connections which can dwindle in retirement. Marci Alboher, the author of The Encore Career Handbook, believes this is because “older adults want to remain connected, relevant, useful and engaged. There’s this collective feeling of ‘we’re not done yet.”4

The majority of working retirees describe their encore career as more flexible, fun, and fulfilling— less boring and less stressful—than their pre-retirement career.5 Whatever the reasons someone begins an encore career, retirees frequently report they are working because they “want to” not because they “have to.”

Tell me more! I am ready for my Encore Career

If you decide to return to work, consider whether you want to continue your previous job or if you would like to try something new and different.

Visualize a new career by considering how you want to live and how do you want to spend your time in retirement. Would you want to work from home or in an office with other employees? Are you interested in starting your own business where you run the show? Are you thinking about part-time or full-time work? While you think about the types of activities you wish to engage in and be responsible for, consider the people you might like to work with and how much time you’d like to devote to working. 

It can be helpful to spend time reflecting on your previous work experience (paid or non-paid), too. Maybe your experience as a project manager in a corporate office makes you an expert in managing large projects, but you don’t see yourself loving the office life. Instead, consider how your skills could be transferred to a field that interests you. Using the same example, instead of planning large projects for a business, maybe you become a wedding planner or a youth sports director where you can leverage your experience in a new context. By thinking differently about your retirement, you might identify exciting opportunities you hadn’t considered before.

Your Retirement Your Way

When it comes to retirement, there is no one-size fits all. Having a plan for how you want to spend your retirement years can help you create a retirement you enjoy. An encore career is just one of many ways to create a fulfilling retirement. As Bob thought more about retirement he realized he always wanted to rebuild older cars but never had time. The sinking feeling started to leave Bob as he realized retirement is whatever he wants it to be.

Do you have a plan to stay engaged through out your retirement? Contact us to learn more about how we can help you create a strategy for creating purpose in your life.


1.Milken Institute. Aging and Beneficial Purpose in the 21st Century. Report and recommendations form the 2014 Successful Aging Innovation Summit: Work, Productivity, and Beneficial Purpose.

2. Abrahams, S. (2016). Ready for Your Second Career? Make a difference in the world and earn money at the same time. AARP Bulletin, July. 2016.

3. Sharpe, R. (2011). Your dream job can be a fulfilling finale to your working years. AARP Bulletin, January, 20P


5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014.

The views of Fisher Life Planning should not be regarded as personal investment, tax or legal advice. We give you our best insights at that moment, but we could change our views in the future based on new information or further analysis.

About Fisher Life Planning Services

Fisher Life Planning is designed to help aging adults navigate life’s most complex decisions. Our Life Planning Professionals help you consider and approach some of life’s unexpected challenges around housing strategies, holistic wellbeing, legacy planning, and pursuing purpose with confidence, now and into the future. Better living through education, empowerment and support from professionals who care—that’s Fisher Life Planning.