Take a moment to reflect back on a few of the major transitions in your life. These are events like graduating from college, getting married or having your first child. Now, think about the different ingredients that were in place to help you get through those times.
Here’s the question: What was the single most helpful factor that got you through?
If you answered, “support, community or friends” you get a gold star. Having the support of others is a critical component of successful transitions. A strong support team provides the counsel, connections and emotional support that are typically absent when we navigate transitions on our own.
Yet when it comes to planning a second act, too many of us try to go it alone. And that do-it-yourself approach, while understandable, often results in needless frustration, confusion and stagnation.
Fortunately, you don’t have to plan your second act in isolation. There are lots of ways to connect with, learn from and socialize with other like-minded people. It’s not only the smart thing to do, it makes for a much more enjoyable process.
So if you’re ready to start planning your second act, here are seven resources that can make the journey more productive, rewarding and fun:
Company-sponsored retirement transition programs. While there are presently only a handful of larger companies that offer significant retirement planning assistance, such as IBM, Intel and HP, this benefit is likely to become more popular over time. So, ask what’s available. And if your company doesn’t have an official program in place, your employer might be open to reimbursing you to attend a local retirement transition program or workshop.
Encore classes or workshops. If you’re interested in pursuing a second act for the greater good, be sure to consult Encore.org, which offers lots of useful resources for people who want to make a difference in the second half of life. One of their many programs is EncoreU, a variety of educational initiatives offered by public and private, two and four-year institutions. For example, Cornell University has a series of programs for university retirees and mid-career employees that offers opportunities to gain knowledge and skills to serve local, national or international social needs as volunteers or in new vocations.
Midlife transitions group. Being part of a retirement or midlife transitions group and knowing other people are going through the same thing at the same time can help to normalize the process. Fortunately, the number of groups focused on midlife transitions is increasing. One of the largest groups is The Transition Network, a community of professional women age 50 and older whose changing life situations lead them to seek new connections, resources and opportunities. TTN currently has chapters in thirteen cities, with a new chapter forming soon in Minneapolis and St. Paul. People living outside the chapter cities can still find support by becoming a national member of TTN.
Community colleges and continuing education programs. Local college and continuing education programs offer some of the best educational bang for your buck, and many have services specifically geared to the age 50 and older population. Some are career related, while others are more social in nature. Two worth noting are the Plus 50 Initiative, which places an emphasis on training for the workplace, and the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, which has helped over 10,000 boomers earn high-value degrees or certificates in fields impacting the greater good.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The OLLI offers non-credit educational programs specifically designed for adults age 50 and older at 119 university and college campuses across the country. There are no tests, no grades and no homework. It’s for people who want to enrich themselves, engage in furthering their education and socialize with other people with similar interests.
Life reimagined workshops. AARP runs free, 90-minute in-person workshops that help guide you through a process of personal reflection, introspective exercises and conversation designed to help you decide what’s next.
Create your own group. Finally, consider forming your own second act support group. Reach out to friends and colleagues who are also planning their second acts and suggest a monthly book group, dinner meeting or coffee date. Together you can brainstorm ideas, share resources and broaden your world of possibilities while having fun and enjoying a few laughs in the process.
This article was seen on US News.