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Recently I’ve had a number of conversations with colleagues thinking about their post-retirement options. Most of them don’t actually want to retire, but want to transition to a career option that better fits their encore lifestyle goals.

The good news? One of the terrific things about LIS skills and experience is that they so easily lend themselves to these types of work arrangements.

For example, you might continue to do the type of work you’ve been doing, but on a part-time, contract project, or substitute basis.

Or you might decide to repurpose your information skills into an independent solopreneur career, where you work on a few client projects with a specific duration, so there’s plenty of time to pursue other passions. As an LIS solopreneur, or independent information professional (IIP), you may work with both library- and non-library clients.

Or you may have been developing a side-gig while working full time that you can now shift into your primary career activity. Did you do occasional online teaching for one of the MLIS or iSchool programs? Now may be the time to consider doing more online teaching as your primary career focus.

Questions to help you get started

Regardless of what option(s) you’re considering, the following questions will help you start framing how to think about LIS encore opportunities, and how they might fit with your post-retirement lifestyle preferences.

  • Do you already have an idea of what type of work you’d like to do in your encore career? If so, what do you have in mind? What appeals to you about this work? What additional information do you need about this option that would help you decide whether it’s truly a potentially good fit?
  • If you don’t already have something in mind, do you have a sense of whether you’d like to do information-based work or something different that doesn’t necessarily use your information skills? Does anything jump out at you as something you’d like to explore, or a passion you’d like to follow up on?
  • Do you know anyone who’s doing post-retirement work that sounds interesting to you? If so, now might be a great time to start doing some encore-career informational interviews to learn more about what they do, how they do it, how they like it, any drawbacks, etc.
  • If you’re not sure what you might like to do, do you have an area of expertise that people would pay you for, for example, in a consulting capacity? You’re likely to get paid the most for skills that are in high demand or highly unique, whether information-based or some other type of expertise.
  • Are you currently doing any sideline work, and if so, would you be interested in doing more of this? This is an easy option to expand, since you already have clients and a track record of successful work product or projects.
  • Are there any types of work of potential interest that you’ve explored so far, and if so, what were the positives and negatives? It helps to hone down options by identifying “no-go’s” in terms of what work you do, how you do it, where you do it, and when you do it. (If you want complete schedule flexibility, for example, then a steady, part-time gig wouldn’t fit your needs.)

Questions for structuring your lifestyle career

That last question leads us into the area of what a particular lifestyle career would ideally look like for you. Do you have a list of prerequisites or preferences that any encore/lifestyle career would need to accommodate? For example:

  • Do you have any constraints or commitments you need to work around? These could be physical, social, family, community, or other ongoing considerations that you need to take into account.
  • What are your financial requirements for your lifestyle career? Is this an important supplementary income source, or simply additional but unnecessary revenue?
  • What level of flexibility do you want in your daily/weekly/monthly/annual schedule?
  • How important is face-to-face social interaction for you? (Many people choose to continue working for the social engagement, which is actually a smart idea – recent studies note that strong social ties support healthy aging.)
  • How strong are your technology skills, and how comfortable are you with continuing to keep up with new technologies?
  • How do you feel about working remotely and/or online? This has both a social aspect and a technology aspect, as most online jobs (for example, teaching) require mastering new technologies.
  • What are your absolute no-go’s? For example, mine include client calls before 9:00, having to participate in weekly staff meetings, and having a boss, among others!)
  • Are you more drawn to a steady, predictable schedule and amount of work (for example, a permanent part-time job) or do you thrive instead on projects that ramp up in intensity but then wrap up, with free time between projects for personal activities like travel or creative work?

These are just some of the preferences you’ll want to consider as you explore your LIS lifestyle career options; undoubtedly there are others that will have personal importance for your individual circumstances. But the goal is to begin thinking about both what type of lifestyle you’d like to have and then what career options support that lifestyle.

Resources to check out

The following books have been central to the idea of encore careers, although each has taken a somewhat different approach (and none are specifically for information professionals). Nonetheless, a lot of their assessments may help you consider your options from additional vantage points, or suggest ways that you could use your LIS skills in a manner related to one of the activities they’ve described.

Alboher, Marci.  The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. Workman Publishing, 2012. 336p. ISBN 978-0761167624.
Alboher’s focus is strongest on volunteer, rather than income-producing, opportunities.

Burnett, Bill and Dave Evans. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. Knopf, 2016. 272p. ISBN 978-1101875322.
Terrific resource based on the concepts of design thinking, as reflected in the two authors’ (Stanford Design School) approach: “true happiness comes from designing a life that works for you.”

Collamer, Nancy. Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions during Semi-Retirement. Ten Speed Press, 2013. 272p. ISBN 978-1607743828.
Especially useful for the multiple exercises Collamer has readers complete throughout the book.

Hannon, Kerry. Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy…and Pays the Bills (updated edition). Wiley, 2017. 416p. ISBN 978-1119363323.
Hannon’s focus is strongly on work that pays, with an extremely wide range of options.

Note: Although I link to Amazon for information purposes, I have no relationship with the site and encourage you to find these titles in your local public library or independent bookstore.