My recommendation to determining your next life chapter is to seek meaningful work as much as “finding your passion.” What is the true legacy you want to leave, in addition to family? As the saying goes, no one looks back and wishes they spent more time at the office!
Recognizing that there is no one right path to identifying the next chapter, I thought broadly about my interests, experiences and skills that made me feel good about myself, without the constraints of a next job or promotion. The actual method that helped me, started with asking myself a series of questions. Then I listed the answers and ranked them from most to least important to me.
Here are some questions for you to answer honestly:
- What issues are you passionate about, e.g., what makes your blood boil or your heart smile?
- How meaningful will it be to your life if you can work in one of these? How meaningful will it be to those you want to impact?
- Do you want to be near or move WAY outside your comfort zone?
- What skills do you have that you want to apply?
- Do you want to continue in your career but just do it in a new location? In a U.S. location that has an under-served population? In a developing country? For how long are you willing to be away from home?
- Are you interested in a new career so you want emphasize work-time? Or just having meaningful, balanced experiences allowing for fun and relaxation?
- If you travel, how will you maintain your home? How will you deal with family? Can you afford to only volunteer or do you need to work part- or full-time?
- If you move abroad or to a different U.S. location, how will you fund your volunteering?
Once you start narrowing down your ideas, start researching online to find organizations that might meet you’re the criteria of your highest-ranked answers. Literally if you search on “volunteer in _______” it’s amazing what can be found. There’s even a “Plumbers Without Borders!”
Now you’ve taken the first and second steps*! Pat yourself on the back and keep going. Your encore career is just over the horizon.