Don’t Make a Late-Life Career Change Until You Read This

Changing careers can feel a bit intimidating at any age. That’s especially true when you’re considering making a major transition late in life. Then again, recent trends suggest that your chances for success may be greater than you think.

A survey by the American Institute for Economic Research found that more than 80% of respondents said they were able to launch a new career after age 45. Even when they had to take an initial pay cut, most of them were able to increase their income over time.

What does that mean for you? Sticking it out until retirement doesn’t have to be your only option when you can do something you love, even if it means making less money temporarily. Plus, with retirement ages increasing, you might be able to benefit from your new career for many more years to come.

Whether you’re a mature adult who wants to pursue your passions, reduce stress, or just enjoy a change of pace, an encore career might be just what you need.

Consider these strategies for preparing for the next stage in your professional life:

Prepare Financially

1. Cut expenses. Most career changes mean a smaller paycheck initially. You’ll feel less pressured if you trim your budget now by eating out less or selling a second car.

2. Pay off debts. For more peace of mind, work towards becoming debt-free. Pay off your most expensive debts first and stop credit card spending as much as possible.

3. Consider moving. Relocating to a less expensive area can have a big impact on your budget. Browse online for destinations that match your lifestyle.

4. Share housing. Housing is the biggest expense for most adults. Maybe you can rent a room in your home or share an apartment with a friend.

5. Delay retirement. If you can delay claiming Social Security, you’ll be entitled to bigger checks. Your monthly benefits increase for each year you continue working between ages 62 and 70.

6. Be flexible. Full-time jobs aren’t the only way to work. Consider working part-time or consulting.

Prepare Professionally

1. Research your opportunities. Teachers, registered nurses, and home health aides are among the fastest growing occupations for older workers, according to a recent report by MetLIfe Foundation. Visit your local library or browse online to find out more about opportunities that interest you.

2. Increase your skills. See what qualifications you’ll need. You may want to take evening classes to complete an additional degree or certification.

3. Strengthen your network. It’s important to keep networking even when you have a job. If you’re feeling rusty, start attending more networking events or invite a former colleague out for lunch.

4. Use social media. LinkedIn and other platforms make it easier than ever to research the job market and connect with others. Update your profiles to reflect your new ambitions. Share information and participate in relevant discussions.

5. Build support. Starting over in a new field will require time and effort. Ask your family and friends for the encouragement and assistance that you need. Team up with another mature professional who’s going through a similar transition or start a Meetup Group.

6. Gain visibility. As you’re trying to rebrand yourself, publishing and public speaking will help you to gain attention. Start your own website or contact other sites to ask if you can become a contributor. Once you have some experience, design an online workshop or give a talk at a local community center.

If you’ve been dreaming about taking your career in a different direction, start preparing now. You may find that the later stages of your professional life will be the most rewarding.

A Job Hunter’s Guide to Contacting Companies You Want to Work For

Searching for a job often means looking for who is hiring. You contact others in your network and browse through employment listings. However, you could also turn the process around and start looking at where you want to work regardless of any current vacancy.

Exploring these kinds of passive openings has advantages for you and your potential employer because you’re targeting opportunities where you would excel. Find out how to identify organizations where you want to work, and how to communicate with them, using these strategies.

Learning About Your Preferred Companies

1. Browse online. Gather information from the company website and LinkedIn. Introduce yourself on social media and strike up conversations. Check out Glass Door to find out what current and former employees have to say.

2. Read the news. Local press and industry publications can also be revealing. Maybe your potential employer sponsors community programs or lost half its sales revenue.

3. Seek referrals. Ask around to see if you have contacts who know employees at the companies you’re researching. Personal introductions make it much easier to set up initial meetings.

4. Attend events. Networking sessions and business conferences are an efficient way to access lots of information and individual perspectives. Check calendar listings for upcoming events.

5. Volunteer your services. Do you want an inside look at the kind of work you’re contemplating? Maybe you can intern or volunteer at the organization or a similar operation.

6. Identify decision makers. Find out who you need to talk with. Calling the CEO directly could be the best route for senior positions. Otherwise, you’ll probably start out with hiring managers and department heads.

Reaching Out to Your Preferred Companies

1. Consider your contribution. Put the focus on what you can do for the company instead of talking about what you want. Talk about how you can add value and help them reach their goals. Be as specific as possible and hold off on sending your resume for now.

2. Hone your pitch. You’ll need to capture their attention quickly once you make contact. Rehearse your pitch until you can deliver it in about 15 to 20 seconds.

3. Send an email. Your first communication will usually be an email. Craft a subject line that will pique their interest. Say you want to talk about their marketing campaign or their accounting needs.

4. Ask to meet. Follow up with a request for a brief meeting. It’s often easier to reach people if you call early in the morning or late in the day in the middle of the week. Be sure to leave no more than one or two voice mails so they won’t feel harassed.

5. Build your qualifications. If you succeed at arranging a meeting, listen closely. Find out what would make you a more attractive candidate and work on those skills. Brush up on your high school Spanish or strengthen your social media presence.

6. Stay in touch. Remember that you’re making progress even if your preferred company is unable to hire you immediately. Check in occasionally to let them know you’re still interested.

7. Be patient. Landing your dream job can take time. If one prospect fails to respond, move on to other options. Cultivate a strong support network that will encourage you and give you constructive feedback. Believe in yourself and think positively about your future.

Finding a position you love will enhance your quality of life, and probably make your new employer glad you joined them. Make contacting companies you want to work for a central strategy in your job hunting.

Top 10 Things You Must Avoid to be Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

There are countless lists of things you should do to accomplish a particular objective. It’s just as important to avoid the things that will derail your efforts. There are many aspects of everyday life that make it more challenging to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Avoid these items whenever possible.

Make life easier by avoiding those things that make it harder:

1. Processed food. There are plenty of things to eat that occur naturally. Fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, quinoa, nuts, and berries to name a few examples. The number of health challenges caused by an unhealthy diet is staggering.

2. Debt. Debt is bad on multiple levels. It’s not only bad for your bank account, but it’s also bad for your mental health. Debt creates financial challenges which lead to stress. Avoid debt if you want to be wealthy and happy.

* If you’re currently in debt, make a plan to pay it off. It’s worth making a few sacrifices to speed up the process.

3. Sitting. Those that spend too much time sitting are at a much higher risk for a wide range of health issues. Try to spend more time standing than sitting each day. There are desks designed to be used while standing. At the very least, get up and walk around for a few minutes each hour.

4. Sleep deprivation. It’s bad for your health, your mood, and your productivity. Arrange your life so you can get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. A short nap never hurt anyone, either.

* Strive to get to bed at the same time each night. Your boss already decides when you have to get up.

5. Obesity. The average person eats too much processed food, sits around most of the day and evening, and fails to get enough sleep. This leads to obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other health issues. Stay slim and trim.

6. Anger. It’s not just anger. Any negative emotion can create issues. Anger, hate, fear, resentment, and sadness are hard on the human body over a long period of time. They’re not good for your sense of well-being either.

7. A lack of direction. Know what you want. Know what’s important to you. Have goals. Choose a course for your life. Where will you end up without a direction and purpose?

8. Wasting time. Most of life in the U.S. is a trap that saps your happiness and success. There are countless ways to waste time that accomplish nothing. TV, internet, fast food, video games, bars, and texting are just a few examples. Imagine what you could accomplish if you stopped wasting your time and used it wisely.

9. Failing to learn something new. There’s never been more information available, and most of it is free. Keep your mind active by learning something new each day. You’ll also increase your knowledge which can be applied in multiple areas of your life.

10. Repeating mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but most people make the same mistakes repeatedly. Be determined to never repeat a mistake. You went through the pain of making the mistake. Learn from it and avoid it in the future. Life will be easy.

Life is challenging enough without making it harder than it has to be. Avoid those things that make life more difficult. Eat well, avoid debt, use your time wisely, and avoid repeating mistakes. If you could just do those four things, would your life be easier? Those four things provide an excellent foundation to becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise.