A few years ago, I attended a fellowship at the University of Minnesota that introduced me to the concept of an encore career — the Advanced Careers Initiative — directed by Dr. Phyllis Moen and Dr. Kate Schaefers in the Life Course Center. Phyllis stated in the first meeting of my fellowship cohort that “there are two words that are banned from any conversation, ‘old’ and ‘retired,’ for neither have the same meaning that for generations has defined them.”
An encore career is whatever motivates you away from monetary success and toward a more global concern for societal issues. Having spent many years working hard, earning money, raising a family (or not), had its own built-in rewards in terms of how we traditionally have measured success — wealth, fame, accumulation of material possessions, etc. We spend our lives in mainly two stages: the first is being cared for by others and the next is caring for others. During an encore career, we are given the opportunity for the third stage — caring for ourselves. Driven with purpose for the greater good can become the most compassionate self-care of all.