Older workers retooling, finding more satisfaction in new jobs

This recession has cost many older workers their jobs. However, according to a study just released by the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the long-term consequences for those people might be positive.

The 14-year study found that a huge 91% of respondents who changed jobs at the age of 50 or later reported they were happy with their new jobs.

Ironically, many of these new jobs lack many of what we usually consider the attributes of a top-notch job. They don't pay as well, don't include bountiful benefits, including pensions, and don't require total 24/7 dedication. They are, however, considerably less stressful. 36% of those surveyed consider their new job stressful, vs. 65% in their previous jobs.Looking at my peers, I can avow to this trend. One, a former science teacher, now delights in driving a school bus. Another friend, after working 40+ hours a week managing an optical lab, now works three days a week in a less stressful, non-managerial position and umpires for walk-around money. Another friend, after years of running her own supplements store, sold her house in favor of an RV, living on the road and working summers in places such as a dude ranch in Colorado. Yet another person I know very, very well went from a high-pressure marketing job to writing for a business blog from the comfort of his home office. They all are much happier.

Reduced stress is not the only advantage of these second careers. Time flexibility is relished by almost half of those surveyed, up by 20% over their previous jobs. No more sitting in meetings when that first perfect spring day draws you to the golf course.

The underlying assumption to these conclusions, however, is that the retirees/job changers have the financial ability to accept lower wages, and have access to reasonably-priced health care. Those old enough for Social Security and Medicare have more flexibility in this regard, thanks to this safety net.

Many of those who lose their jobs find, to their surprise, that by cutting back on expenses they can make do with a lower salary. With that freedom comes much more latitude to look for work that they enjoy, that fits their interests and allows them time to pursue other dreams. Sometimes a career derailment forces us to reshape our ambitions. But then 91% of those who have done so like what they found.
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