For those not familiar with Encore, here's how they describe themselves:
Encore.org is building a movement to make it easier for millions of people to pursue second acts for the greater good. We call them "encore careers" – jobs that combine personal meaning, continued income and social impact – in the second half of life.
The key message from the article is we've built up a myth that people should totally reinvent themselves as they move into their pre-retirement/retirement years. Key quote on this "reinvention mythology":
Self-help columns are packed with reinvention tips. Financial services ads depict beaming boomers opening B&Bs and vineyards. More magazine, that bastion of midlife uplift for women over 40, even sponsored a series of reinvention conventions ... Retirement itself, we’re advised, is being reinvented.
As you can tell from the essay's title, Freedman doesn't think the reinvention myth is a good thing. He says:
Yet for all its can-do spirit, I’ve come to believe the reinvention fantasy — the whole romance with radical transformation unmoored from the past — is both unrealistic and misleading. I’ll even go further: I think it is pernicious, the enemy of actual midlife renewal.
Instead, Freedman believes 2nd stage of life career shifters should leverage and take advantage of the skills they built up over their lives. He calls this reintegration. Key quote:
After years studying social innovators in the second half of life — individuals who have done their greatest work after 50 —I’m convinced the most powerful pattern that emerges from their stories can be described as reintegration, not reinvention. These successful late-blooming entrepreneurs weave together accumulated knowledge with creativity, while balancing continuity with change, in crafting a new idea that’s almost always deeply rooted in earlier chapters and activities.
We completely agree with Freedman. Our research on baby boomers who've left traditional employment and become independent workers clearly shows reintegration is the path most often taken by successful encore independents.
Adding a personal note, this is also the path I've taken in pursuing my post corporate America career as a researcher/industry analyst.
Do read the article, especially if you're considering an encore career. Also, make sure you read the comments, which are both plentiful (over 200 as I write this) and insightful.