Career endings can lead to new beginnings

April 29, 2014

After working your whole life, you have finally have reached the end of your career. But you have not yet reached the end of your life! Plenty of years left to enjoy and challenge yourself. The questions is, what will you do now that you don’t have your day job to give you an identity and occupy your time?

For many, this transition period is one filled with wonder. For many others, it is a time filled with angst. Routine and structure to your day was the norm. Now, faced with every day being one free of routine and structure, what will you do?

No need to set the alarm, no need to dress up, no need to listen to the traffic report. The world is your oyster…or is it? If you are filled more with dread than excitement, you are not alone. Many people struggle with the concept of owning their time, owning their activities, of having the responsibility to define what’s meaningful to them and take responsibility for filling their calendar.

For most, the preceding years were filled with coordinating work activities, kids’ activities, community activities, social activities…to have some or all of that activity slow down or come to a halt may result in feeling a bit lost, bored, anxious, even depressed. A change in beliefs and attitude may go a long way to turning this scenario into a positive one.

Think about all the times over the course of your life you vowed “one day when I have time…” What did you hope to do? When you were lucky enough to sneak in a few moments for yourself, how did you spend them? Did you have a favorite hobby, a passion? Did you love to write, create, build, paint, garden, read, fix cars, cook?

Assessing how you longed to spend your time will give you an important clue about what you might like to do now. If you loved to write, think about volunteering in a school and helping students hone their writing skills. Or join a writing club for the opportunity to work on your writing and get feedback from individuals who share your interest.

If you loved to build, consider a second career in a setting where you can share your knowledge and skills or use them to build for others. If you enjoyed gardening, perhaps you might enjoy working in a nursery or garden center where you can put your skill and expertise to good use.

This new phase of your life may be the perfect time to seek an opportunity that affords you the ability to do something for sheer pleasure or to earn some extra income. It might also be an opportunity to take on a new challenge - consider something that you never before considered and use the opportunity to grow new skills, meet new people, and see where you land. You may learn something new about yourself as well as a new skill.

Yes, life as you knew it might be over, but that doesn’t have to mean you are doomed to an idle life or a life without purpose. Take some time to think about your interests, abilities, and what you are curious about. Then find some opportunities that build on them. They just may enrich your life - and perhaps the lives of others. You won’t know until you take that first step. Start the next chapter of your life today.

Andi Edelman is affiliated with Cape Integrated Wellness and is a career consultant and life coach. Go to or reach her at