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Nov 27

Boundary Conditions in the Encore Stage

In my last post, I mentioned that many people approaching or already in the encore stage of life have boundary conditions they need to consider in planning their future.  In my experience, these boundary conditions tend to relate to financial issues (e.g., limited income and savings), health concerns, or family considerations.

With regard to financial issues, Baby Boomers are notorious for a lack of financial planning and accumulated savings.  Some have decent pensions, but many do not.  For sure, most people in the encore stage have bigger dreams than Social Security, alone, can support.

Of course, a big part of the current interest in encores revolves around encore careers.  However, just how much people need to work and what sort of income they need to generate requires some frank appraisal.  I’m not a financial advisor, but one often sees advice to work a few more years, before moving into an encore career.  Unfortunately, sometimes that is not an option.

Health concerns also require careful thought.  Some people have had jobs that are physically demanding, and even working part time may not be practical, in that same line of work.  Knees and backs, among other body parts, might not be up to the challenge.  Other health issues may affect the type of work or the percentage of full time that a person can manage.  It isn’t hard to see that some people will find the combination of needing to generate income, while facing physical limitations, daunting.  A comprehensive health assessment and a plan to improve fitness should be part of encore planning.

The third boundary condition I mentioned, family considerations, may come as a bit of a surprise to some people.  Many of us have discovered that our spouse or partner has an encore dream that is different than our own.  Assuming your commitment to each other is strong, finding solutions is do-able, but it isn’t easy.

Perhaps more commonly, Boomers are likely to discover that the “sandwich generation” experience is all too real.  Needs of parents, children, and grandchildren are a prominent part of many Boomers’ lives, just as they are approaching the encore stage.  It fascinates me to realize that, as parents, we never stop being concerned about our children, and if they encounter hard times, we share in them.  Likewise, many find it uncomfortable to realize that they need to step up with their own parents, almost reversing the roles we knew for the first 50 or 60 years of our lives.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic, here.  I am convinced that most of life’s challenges can be addressed creatively and effectively, through the process of designing a life portfolio.  Nevertheless, we need to be aware of both our passions and our boundary conditions, so that we design options that fit our personal circumstances.  Not coincidentally, many people find working with a life coach to be helpful, but there also are many other resources you can tap to help make decisions.