In 2006, at age 48, Rob Laymon had had enough of being a newspaper editor. He began to devote more time to sailing, a longtime hobby. One day, he told an assistant manager at a boating-supply store that he wished he could find a job that would allow him to be out on the water. The man happened to be the director of a Boy Scout program and said they were always looking for ship captains. 

“I knew it was going to scare the heck out of me—I was going to have lives at stake—but I forced my way though it and became captain of a Boy Scout boat,” says Laymon. “I really liked it.” He soon realized sailing was the perfect vehicle for the way he would educate young people if he were in charge. Now 56, he works for a nonprofit called the Los Angeles Maritime Institute that aims to help at-risk children see their potential through experiences at sea. 

Laymon says one of the most helpful factors in finding his new calling was a life and career coach. “She helped me organize the search in such a way that I was ready when the answer came,” he said. “She was also savvy about the pitfalls of thinking too hard about it.” 

While Laymon found working with a coach helpful, hiring one isn’t absolutely necessary. You can also figure out how you might want to spend your “unretirement” with these 10 steps. 

1. Dream big 
Figure out what you are passionate about, says retirement coach Dorian Mintzer. “Be open to possibilities, and brainstorm with other people.” Ask yourself, “What was I interested in when I was younger but had to put on the back burner? If I opened myself to a big-sky vision, and if money weren’t an issue, what might I love to do?”

2. Assess your strengths 
Combine your vision with a practical look at the professional skills you’ve developed over the years. Which of your abilities do you want to use more often? Can you apply them in new ways? A coach, peer group, or self-assessment could help you think through these issues.

3. Consider your motivation
Determine what you want out of your retirement. Does the work need to generate income or health benefits? Or are you looking more for personal fulfillment, the opportunity to give back, or the chance to pursue your passion?

4. Do some interviews and shadowing
Taken together, all these factors—your passions, strengths, and needs—should narrow the field. Try out some of your ideas by conducting informational interviews with or shadowing people in the fields you’re interested in, especially if you’re eyeing something completely new.

5. Start ‘giving yourself away’ 
Put yourself to work, whether by volunteering at a soup kitchen or as a tutor, doing pro bono consulting or temping. “That process will help you figure out what you like doing, what you want to do more of, and what you don’t want to be doing, and to meet the network of people who will connect you with opportunities,” said Marci Alboher, vice president at Encore and author of The Encore Career Handbook.

6. Spread the word 
“The most valuable asset any older worker has is his or her network, the people who have known him or her over the years—the colleagues, the friends, the synagogue, the church, the third degree of separation,” said Chris Farrell, author of Unretirement. “Economists and theorists say more than 50 percent of all jobs come through your network. The thing about a network as an older worker is they don’t care how old you are.” Bypassing the traditional human resources channels could also help prevent you from being rejected by an algorithm.

7. Search for opportunities
Conduct a traditional job search using resources like RetirementJobs.com, the Encore Fellowships Network, ReServe, LinkedIn, and industry-specific listings. Keep in mind industries that might be particularly open to older workers, such as customer service jobs, advocates for seniors (which involves taking them to doctors’ appointments during the workday, for example), and caregiving.

8. Keep yourself marketable
“It’s important to stay fresh and with the times,” said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement. “Demonstrate that your skills are up to date with whatever the job requires, if it’s knowing the latest software packages to being familiar with current vocabulary.” If you feel like your skills could be spruced up, get some training.

9. Believe in yourself
“My own advice is, if you’re 21 or 71—whatever your age—own it,” said Collinson. “Have pride and take confidence in your skills and abilities. Many of the exact same do’s and don’ts apply with a prospective employer. When granted an interview opportunity, it’s your opportunity to articulate the value you can provide that employer.”

10. Let go
Finally, let go. “These kinds of transitions take time, so don’t put pressure on yourself to figure it all out right away,” said Alboher. “Give yourself time to get lost.”

Source: The Week