Winter reading: Career planning for people who are age 50+

By: Lynne Allen, Associate Director of Alumni Career Development in NYC
Photograph of a book and cup of coffee for winter reading list

By Lynne Allen, Associate Director of Alumni Career Development

Four years ago in this column, I suggested that alumni might want to focus their summer reading not entirely on the latest novels, detective stories, and thrillers, but to use summer vacation as a great time to think about your lives and careers in a relaxed way, view your roles from a bit of a distance, and think about what adjustments you might need to make.

I am calling this month’s column “Winter Reading,” partially because of the time of year, but mainly to focus on preparing for a different time of life: the time after age 50, now called the New Life Phase. It’s a time to find meaning and purpose for the next 20+ years of work and retirement (if one chooses to retire – that is no longer automatically “required!”).

Career situations for those in the 50+ bracket can take many forms. At this career stage, some have reached the pinnacle of success in senior leadership and partnership roles and some are finding fulfillment in mentoring and managing junior people. Some are finding themselves being “transitioned” out of long-time positions. And some are simply no longer interested or happy in their chosen career, or feel isolated, irrelevant, or ignored.

If you need or want a change, this is definitely a time to reflect and plan for that new life phase and reimagine your life. There are possibilities galore. Some books and websites to consider are:

Image of books on Lynne Allen's winter reading list
  • Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities and Work Reimagined: Uncover Your Calling, both by Richard Leider
  • It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond by Julia Cameron
  • Portfolio Life: The New Path to Work, Purpose and Passion after 50 by David Corbett
  • Is It Too Late To Run Away and Join the Circus? A Guide to Your Second Life by Marti Smye
  • It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now: How to Create a Second Life at Any Age by Barbara Sher.
  • Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life by Marci Alboher. There is also a movement and an organization,, for those who are age 50+ and are looking to make a difference and make money in this the New Life Phase.
  • AARP also has very good articles and resources on job hunting for those over 50.

Staying active and engaged after retiring

Staying vital and connected after retirement, if that’s what you choose, takes thought and planning. Just as with career planning, evaluating one’s interests and values to determine what would make life rich and meaningful is important at this stage. A couple of books to explore are Purposeful Retirement: How to Bring Happiness and Meaning to Your Retirement by Hyrum Smith and The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in the Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton.

Perhaps it’s time for you to anticipate “winter” with some reading about the next phase of your life — while it’s still autumn!
For more career advice, visit Johnson Alumni Career Resources.