Are you over 50 and without a job or reasonable prospects of getting one, particularly doing work that you enjoy and feel competent to do? If so, you’re one of nearly 2 million people over the age of 55 looking for jobs. One in three people over the age of 45 is unemployed. What to do?
If you are one of these folks or have a relative or friend who is, you are aware of the growing anxiety and sense of loss that accompanies finding yourself forced to retire early, finding your field becoming obsolete, overcrowded, or what work is available, going to younger people without the obligations you have and are willing to work for less.
Particularly hard hit are people who worked in wholesale and retail trades, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality businesses, and manufacturing. For the nation, not using the brains and skills of millions of experienced people is a loss and for an individual, it’s too often a tragedy. A significant number of my wife’s counseling practice is composed of people who find themselves in situations like this. Adding to this burden are often times dependent relatives.
The upside of this troubling reality is three out of four people over age 55 say they don’t want another job, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Sometimes this comes about from age discrimination, or feeling limited in some way, usually physically, to hold a full-time job. Finding a way to produce income may mean commercializing ideas that took years of training and experience to develop, like making jewelry.
For others, producing income means finding a need – that is something that people will pay for – and then creating a business to fulfill that need. In consulting with people, we work to find niches for products or services for which people will pay. Increasingly, I am seeing news stories about people over 45 who are doing this. They are able to set their own hours and define the types of clients and customers they serve and the kind of services they offer.
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