There is one prerequisite for managing the second half of your life: You must begin doing so long before you enter it. ~Peter Drucker
I was drawn to an article in The Best of HBR (Harvard Business Review) which was a reprint from January 2005 called Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker. The section on managing the second half of your life really caught my attention, for several reasons.
With the surge of Baby Boomers now beginning to retire, there are more and more individuals in organizations who are in the second half of their life. It’s not uncommon for me to run into at least one individual on every leadership team I work with who is contemplating leaving because they realize they probably have only “one more job in them.” Or others are considering reinventing themselves one last time by going back to school to pursue a degree or complete a degree they started years earlier.
Another reason this caught my attention is because it’s right where I’m at, personally. As I approach my 50th birthday in a little over a year, I think about one more professional evolution and what that might look like. But I also think about what might follow and I have begun the process of creating a completely different life/vocation. Even the process of creating this different life over the next 10 or so years, I’ve found to bring great joy and anticipation, as opposed to dreading the unknown. I was encouraged to learn that at least according to Peter Drucker, it seems that I’m on the right track. Although I have to confess, I’ve been motivated to do this by the many clients I’ve watched move into a state of anxiety and depression because they have no idea “what’s next” as they approach the latter part of their professional careers.
Peter suggests several ways to manage the second half of your life, and to begin so, now.
He says there are three ways to develop another career. The first is actually to start one. Often this takes nothing more than moving from one kind of organization to another. There are also growing numbers of people who move into different lines of work altogether: the business exec who enters the ministry at 45, for instance; or the midlevel manager who leaves corporate life after 20 years to attend law school and become a small-town attorney.
The second way to prepare for the second half of your life is to develop a parallel career. These people create a parallel job, many times in a nonprofit organization that takes another 10 hours of work a week. They might run the battered women’s shelter, work as a children’s librarian for the local public library, sit on the school board, and so on.
Finally, there are the social entrepreneurs. These leaders love their work, are very successful, and many times start another activity, usually a nonprofit.
The prerequisite for managing the second half of your life: You must begin long before you enter it.
As a side note, two-thirds of Peter Drucker’s 39 books were published after his 65th birthday. Guess I still have a lot of time!