Five Barriers Between You and Your Life’s Next Chapter

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been impossible to avoid the media stories about the massive wave of baby boomers heading towards retirement. But underlying these stories are some striking facts that signal a major change in leadership in enterprises and institutions throughout the country. The median age for an S&P 500 CEO is 55. Three-fifths of senior federal executives are, or shortly will be, eligible for retirement. And, it’s estimated that two-thirds of our nation’s nonprofit leaders are age 60 or older.

As these leaders head towards the traditional retirement threshold, the situations and opportunities they face are dramatically different than those faced by any previous generation. For a host of reasons, traditional retirement is not the choice of many Boomers, nonprofit leaders included. Here are a few of those reasons:

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Every Nonprofit CEO Needs an Exit Strategy

Every career ends in a transition. It’s just a matter of when, how, and how well managed.

Smart leaders – whether they’re running a business or a nonprofit – know that they’ll leave their role at some point. They know that every job and every career ends in a transition eventually. It’s just a matter of when, how, and how well managed that transition is when the time comes.

The longer an executive has been in place,
the more challenges the successor will likely face.

When CEOs move on – especially if they’re a founder, a long-tenured executive, or a transformational leader – their organization needs to devote appropriate time and resources to managing the transition, ensuring that it’s more than just a search and hiring exercise. The longer an executive has been in place, or the more significant their impact on the organization, the harder they are to succeed and the more challenges the successor will likely face. An exit strategy can help pave the way for a smoother transition.

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6 Signs That It’s Time to Move On

Leading well includes leaving well. That means taking charge of your exit.

Deciding when to move on – that it’s time to retire, shift into an encore career, or otherwise leave your leadership role – and head toward life’s next chapter may be the most challenging decision of your career. Some leaders make this decision easily and move forward gracefully. Others delay, postpone, and defer until circumstances take over. They hang on too long until the “it’s time to leave” signals become so blindingly obvious that they can no longer be avoided. Still other executives never seem to get the message and have to be subtly, or sometimes not so subtly, forced out of their positions. This article covers six classic signs that it might be time to prepare your exit plan.

Leading well includes leaving well, and that means taking charge of your exit and leaving on a high note. Choosing how to exit your role may be the ultimate act of leadership. The first step is determining when it’s time to move on.

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Review – Live Smart

Live Smart After 50!, by Natalie Eldridge

Two heads are better than one. So how about 33? Live Smart After 50! compiles advice from 33 retirement advice experts from the Life Planning Network. Live Smart After 50! offers a holistic perspective for retirement planning, covering a wide spectrum of issues central to your life during retirement.

Live Smart After 50! doesn’t shy away from topics that might make the reader uncomfortable. The section entitled, “Sex: Are Older People Doing It?” dispels some commonly-held myths about sexuality among older adults.  In the “Your Wishes Matter” section, the author covers “things you would rather not think about,” with some common-sense advice for estate-planning, and items so obvious you might have missed them. Do you know who the beneficiaries are for your IRA? Have you reviewed that information in the past 10 years? The author of this section points out that a will alone is no longer considered sufficient estate-planning.

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Review – Second Acts

Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire, by Stephen M. Pollan

In Second Acts, life coach Stephen Pollan counsels his readers through the complicated process of beginning a new career. Pollan directs the reader to get a notebook and begin writing down the practical and emotional obstacles they need to overcome in pursuit of their goals. Second Acts makes a convincing case for planning instead of wishing. The author suggests that the reader may balk at the idea of “taking what should be a romantic adventure and turning it into a prosaic project.” But if you follow his thorough guide for planning your second act, you’ll have an invaluable resource for keeping yourself on task.

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Review – Encore Handbook

The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, by Marci Alboher

You don’t have to feel alone as you plan your retirement. Author Marci Alboher wrote The Encore Handbook to encourage readers to make their personal journey a topic of conversation. If you look around, you’ll find many colleagues planning to find “purpose, passion, and a paycheck” after they retire. Each section of the handbook includes discussion points for group meetings. Appendix E offers complete meeting plans. Ideally, you should read this book as part of a retirement book club. You can use the Encore website (Encore.org) to find an Encore group in your area, if you can’t, create one out of your immediate network of friends and co-workers.

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Review – Encore

Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Lifeby Marc Freedman

In Encore, author Marc Freedman describes the unsustainable nature of the retirement culture today. Evaluating the size of the Baby Boomer generation, Freedman concludes that the current crop of retirees needs to carve out a new niche in the workforce to ensure both economic prosperity and the appropriate delegation of existing talent. Encore encourages the reader to consider what passions they could invest in a second career. To this end, Freedman quotes developmental psychologist Erick Erickson: “I am what survives of me.” Encore targets readers who want encouragement to make use of their talents for an impactful third act.

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What’s Standing Between You and What’s Next?

The median age for an S&P 500 CEO is 55. Nearly two thirds (59.3%) of our nation’s nonprofit leaders are age 60 or older. In just three short years, a staggering three in five senior executive federal employees will be eligible for retirement (Rein, 2013). They’re part of the massive baby boom cohort that will be moving into their next act over the next two decades. What retirement barriers will these folks face? What are the barriers to moving on?

Barriers Image

We used to call that next act retirement, but, for a variety of reasons, retirement is not the choice of many Boomers. Why?

  • Americans are living longer, and living in better health for longer.
  • The recent financial crisis is forcing some to delay retirement.
  • Many love their work and don’t want to leave it.

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Caffeinating Your “What’s Next?” Exploration

When grappling with your retirement planning, some of us tackle the issue the way we would any robust challenge – with lots of caffeine. A post on Inc. magazine’s blog proposed that any time you’re in the process of making a major life decision, you should go on 50 coffees – informational meetings with friends, acquaintances, and former colleagues – to provide yourself with the opportunity to review your plans with a diverse audience (www.inc.com/peter-thomson/50-cups-of-coffee.html).

My initial reaction was, “Wow, 50 coffees? Who has that kind of time? 10 might be more realistic.” But at the essence of the article is a brilliant idea for anyone planning their exit from the top — folks grappling with the post-career “what’s next?” question.

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Exploring Life’s Next Chapter

Five Options to Consider for Your Post-Career Life

As we approach our mid-60s, messages about retirement start to pour in. As a society, our thinking about retirement has fossilized around the notion of age 65. Although that age point is creeping upward, society still tells us that the mid-60s is the age when we should be thinking about retirement, and social notions about retirement still revolve around the traditional “golden years” full-stop exit from the workforce.

But many of us in our mid-60s aren’t ready for the career exit ramp. For reasons of pleasure or necessity, some of us want to continue to work. And for those of us who are phasing out of our careers, many want to continue to remain engaged and do “work” that’s meaningful, whether that’s for a paycheck or not.

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