As you consider a return to the workforce or a move from your current job to one that offers more flexibility, avoid setting off impetuously toward flexible jobs that may have the right hours and the right location, but not the right fit. As I say in my book, Ambition Redefined, career reinvention, recycling, or rebranding requires careful thinking and planning to make sure that the work you choose is both personally fulfilling and financially sound. Here are four preliminary steps I’ve learned through trial and error, four entrepreneurial ventures, and many career incarnations.1. Get a full financial tune-up.
Find out if your flexwork idea makes long-term dollars and sense. Melissa Ciotoli, a certified financial planner and financial counselor at Resnick Advisors, once transitioned to the workforce after a 10-year family hiatus. She now tells clients to thoroughly research how a career break or the compensation for any new job or entrepreneurial venture will impact long-term security. “Very often,” Ciotoli notes, “career reinvention requires financial re-engineering. Even a slight dip in income—or period of no income while building a business—can negatively impact retirement savings.”2. Rebalance your life portfolio.
Reinvention gives you the opportunity to find work flexibility and fit a new career more neatly into all aspects of your life. David Corbett, a thought leader on life transitions for professionals, created the concept of a “portfolio life” to illustrate how we all should invest in a diversified set of experiences. His seminal book by the same name, Portfolio Life: The New Path to Work, Purpose, and Passion after 50, encourages readers to integrate income-producing activities, family, interests, travel, giving back, new learning, and more for a life that is more balanced and satisfying. Rebalancing is particularly in order when you’re considering an entrepreneurial venture. How much time will be left for your family, exercise, hobbies—the things that keep you happy, less stressed, and fulfilled? Unless you have the ability to hire staff on day one, a business can consume all waking hours of your life.3. Take a deep dive into your true motivations.
You could want to be an organic farmer or a teacher in an underserved school, but whether you should be is another important matter. There’s no changing or downsizing your professional DNA: for true happiness, fulfillment, and success you can’t ignore your core motivations. Fulfilling flexwork isn’t just about the work structure; it’s about the work environment.4. Find your reinvention gurus.
To keep her business moving in positive directions, Boulder, Colorado–based executive consultant Ginny Corsi (who counts teaching, journalism, executive education, and Wall Street marketing among her many professional lives) greatly respects the words of Brené Brown who speaks eloquently on one of her personal values: “beingness, not just doingness.” Brown came to fame with her TED talk on vulnerability and articles like “Exhaustion Is Not a Status Symbol.” Brown and many other authors, blog writers, TED speakers, and experts of all kinds can be your inspiration to recharge, renew, reinvent, and find the flexibility that fuels your passions and your ability to support yourself and your family.
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