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Second Act


randomep
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A recent wealthtrack video really piqued my interest on the topic of second careers. 

 

 

 

At about 6:20 the guest says most young people are told to pursue their dreams and slow down later in life. But he thinks that the opposite is true because in the 20's a person can perform drudgery at work yet still enjoy it because the work world is exciting. So a young person should focus on getting established. And when their careers are no longer fulfilling later in life and they are more financially established, they can pursue their dreams.

 

I have never heard anyone articulate this idea but it is my thinking. Wonder if anyone has thoughts and comments and experiences.

 

 

 

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Money magazine (I know I know people here probably gonna snob it, but it has some good tips and it's free for miles) has an ongoing section about these covering concrete examples. Mostly professional people to entrepreneurs, i.e. starting your own business, but I think there were some articles about career to other career jumps too. I think it's not a new idea/phenomenon.

 

I've seen tech people who go to teaching yoga or something like that. That's of course opposite of entrepreneurism: you use your tech nest egg to do something you like but which pays crap.

 

Gotta run, maybe more later.

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I love this stream of thought.

 

My brother was a professional musician for a while, then did sales, now is a computer programmer.

 

I know the guy who wrote 867-5309 is now a programmer as well.

 

I've met a lot of people who worked in some professional career capacity and then were forced to or decided to branch out on their own.

 

What's interesting is I'd say the success rate for people starting their own companies after experience is probably MUCH higher than someone in their 20s who's trying to build something out of college.  Working in an industry or professionally for years builds a lot of operational experience as well as a large network.

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My brother was a professional musician for a while, then did sales, now is a computer programmer.

 

I know the guy who wrote 867-5309 is now a programmer as well.

 

There's a lot of musicians who became programmers or other tech careers. My guess it's the difficulty of making it as a musician and the brains-and-a-bit-of-creativity + ez-money of programming/tech that makes this rather popular switch.

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My brother was a professional musician for a while, then did sales, now is a computer programmer.

 

I know the guy who wrote 867-5309 is now a programmer as well.

 

There's a lot of musicians who became programmers or other tech careers. My guess it's the difficulty of making it as a musician and the brains-and-a-bit-of-creativity + ez-money of programming/tech that makes this rather popular switch.

 

But guys........

 

you do realize

the idea in the video is the opposite, the musicians you mentioned followed their dreams at an early age. He is saying put up with the drudgery and later follow your dreams when you are financiall set. So in your examples he means they would have to wait till they get a midlife crisis to play music hardcore.

 

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Ah yes, the "I'm rich now I need something to do" second act.

 

Grew up with a neighbor like this.  He was an investment banker and helped "manage" family assets whatever that meant.  Regardless he quit working in his 30s.  His second act was to learn to play classical guitar, collect high end stereo equipment, and eventually work an hourly job at a photography studio because he enjoyed it.

 

The guy was great, he was very fascinating.  Yet I always knew that what he was doing was mostly unobtainable for most.  He had a very high paying job and lived in a modest place (very smart).  He leveraged that into time off.  He'd alternate working at the studio with playing golf and tennis.  They built an addition for his music room, the rumor was he spent more on the speakers and stereo than on the room itself.

 

If this is the second act you're talking about how is it any different than retirement or semi-retirement?  Isn't this what most do?  "I worked in the steel mill for 40 years, now I do odd-jobs and hang at McDonalds to stay busy."

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I think oddball is still missing the point of the OP? 

 

For example, I have a friend who started her law career and hated it within two months.  Now she's started up her dream career and probably won't make any money for several years.  Should she have worked for 10+ years in law before doing something like that?  Maybe.  But I think it all depends on the person.

 

A lot of people have the dream of starting a successful hedge fund.  But how do you do that without a track record, the right process, a network, strong working habits, and stuff you typically learn working under someone else for a long time?  Very few can actually just jump right into the "dream" of running a fund.

 

It's one of those things where if you have to ask whether you should start your dream early, you probably shouldn't.  Most people should scrub toilets before trying to roll up the toilet industry.  But there are obviously exceptions.

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I think what oddball says is that's it's easy(ier) to change career into something that doesn't pay bills if you are independently wealthy from the previous career (or drug deals  8) ).

 

If you've done OK - let's say tech, let's say couple hundred K in savings but not big Ms - the switch is not that easy. Yeah, on one hand you have some foundation, you have experience, you have some network, you can try to switch to something "your dream" & risky & maybe won't pay bills. OTOH, if it doesn't work out, your retirement might be shot or at least way lower if you did not try to switch.

 

I'm not saying switch or don't switch. I agree with Picasso that it's very much a personal choice and for some people switch makes great sense, for others it doesn't. For some people, it's do the dream in 20's and become programmer in 40's, for some other way around. I don't think there's much to talk about in abstract. If someone I knew was contemplating this, I'd see what I could advise.

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A recent wealthtrack video really piqued my interest on the topic of second careers. 

 

 

 

At about 6:20 the guest says most young people are told to pursue their dreams and slow down later in life. But he thinks that the opposite is true because in the 20's a person can perform drudgery at work yet still enjoy it because the work world is exciting. So a young person should focus on getting established. And when their careers are no longer fulfilling later in life and they are more financially established, they can pursue their dreams.

 

I have never heard anyone articulate this idea but it is my thinking. Wonder if anyone has thoughts and comments and experiences.

 

I was a lawyer for six years at a big firm before quitting.  Went to law school straight out of college, and it was always what I thought I wanted to do, but I hated it.  So I stayed home with the kids for awhile, learned investing in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and am now trying to build my own investment management firm.  The big thing that allowed me to make this transition was that my wife established her career and could take over being the bread winner.  The kids are older now and I have the time and the desire to do what I wanted, as well as my wife's support.

 

I think two things hold people back: 1. money/golden handcuffs and 2. fear of failure.

 

You have to pay the bills so it's hard to quit and start over, but once you have the family and mortgage, etc., the minimum you can live off escalates and makes it even harder.  You have to solve that problem by having a spouse make the money, savings, downsize your lifestyle, whatever.  This is hard to solve and I'm very grateful for my situation.

 

As for fear, I think some (most?) people lack adaptability and a growth mindset by their mid 30s.  Maybe they never had it.  But I can spot which people have it and which don't by who is supportive of my venture.  These are also the readers, travelers, technophiles, life-long learners, etc. who are willing to try new things.  On the other hand are those who are afraid to take risks so they count the days until retirement.  These people sometimes wish risk takers and entrepreneurs will fail because it justifies their decision to do nothing.  Unfortunately, I know people like this.  This is a great podcast on that issue: http://www.goodlifeproject.com/how-do-you-handle-naysayers/

 

One of my best friends I met in law school was 39 when she started.  She had worked in the auto industry for years but finally decided to pursue a life-long dream. Her spouse was supportive emotionally and financially and I think that was essential.  I know she was intimidated at times starting school again with a bunch of young hotshots but her experience made her an amazing student and attorney.  It's great to have a role model like that.

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Appreciate you sharing GregS. That's the kind of second act I am thinking off.

 

What Oddball mentioned is a person who is slowing down gradually from 40hrs a week to 0 hrs (which may be when you hit the bucket).  Older people slow down but they also need a purpose.  What I am saying is someone who replaces one career with another.  They like the latter career better but didn't do it earlier because they didn't have the financial stability or didn't have the experience/knowledge.  The latter career typically entails more risk and/or less reward but is more enjoyable.

 

 

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Greg hit the nail on the head. I used to work at a trading firm. Made good money but didn't really enjoy it anymore after a few years. Still it was a surprisingly hard decision to quit for a few reasons:

 

1) Golden handcuffs. If you stay for a few years extra you (hope to) earn exponentially more. Seniors get a bigger bonus, share grants vest over multiple years, an IPO is looming on the horizon, etc. Always a reason to work a few more years. If you stop you have nothing. No money incoming! Even if you have decent savings it 'feels' different.

2) Lifestyle inflation. If your boss and colleagues have huge mansions, vacation homes on Ibiza and expensive cars your view of life gets skewed a bit. The first year you think: "if I have x I can retire". After a few years x has suddenly tripled. Or quadrupled. As Greg pointed out: it's hard to scale back. It's hard to trade your Ferrari for a Honda.

3) Social pressure. "Quitting is for losers and losing is for quitters". "Winners don't quit". "What will my family / my friends / my colleagues think of me?

 

After lots of thought I quit and while some people probably think I am crazy I have absolutely no regrets and am still very happy with my decision. Now I'm a full-time investor / lazy guy (so far). I am healthier and happier. Beats the extra money.

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Yeah, having spouse that supports you emotionally and financially as you go for second act is definitely a big plus.

 

Yep, I'm there now. If my wife wasn't as good at what she does (and obviously rewarded for it by her company), I wouldn't be able to transition to a second career.

 

And yes, count me in the programming/software development as a second career..................hopefully. :D

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Hey Guys,

I just registered but have been a long time reader of this great forum. The topic of second careers is for me at least quite current. I work as a programmer (for some years, in europe, late 20ies) and earn just about average but am able to save a bit due to my minimalist approach to life. But I learned to strongly dislike the job and the people you have to converse with (possible just a singular experience).

To make a long story short, I am now in the process of looking for another job in the investment/banking sector, hopefully a CFA designation is helpful in that regard and it is not to late.. The golden handcuffs are unfortunately really a thing, I can't bring myself to just quit while still not having found an alternative. (Sorry for my english.)

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Hey Guys,

I just registered but have been a long time reader of this great forum. The topic of second careers is for me at least quite current. I work as a programmer (for some years, in europe, late 20ies) and earn just about average but am able to save a bit due to my minimalist approach to life. But I learned to strongly dislike the job and the people you have to converse with (possible just a singular experience).

To make a long story short, I am now in the process of looking for another job in the investment/banking sector, hopefully a CFA designation is helpful in that regard and it is not to late.. The golden handcuffs are unfortunately really a thing, I can't bring myself to just quit while still not having found an alternative. (Sorry for my english.)

 

I don't know your circumstances, nor the companies your looking at, but as someone who works in finance, my guess is that most people on this board wouldn't find it fulfilling from an investment standpoint. It only works for me as a means to an end to fund my 2nd Act.

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MONEY Doesn't Fund Dreams

 

Shouldn't I make money first — to fund my dream? The notion that there's an order to your working life is an almost classic assumption: Pay your dues, and then tend to your dream. I expected to find numerous examples of the truth of this path. But I didn't find any.

 

Sure, I found tons of rich guys who were now giving a lot away to charity or who had bought an island. I found plenty of people who had found something meaningful and original to do after making their money. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the garden-variety fantasy: Put your calling in a lockbox, go out and make a ton of money, and then come back to the lockbox to pick up your calling where you left it.

 

It turns out that having the financial independence to walk away rarely triggers people to do just that. The reality is, making money is such hard work that it changes you. It takes twice as long as anyone plans for. It requires more sacrifices than anyone expects. You become so emotionally invested in that world — and psychologically adapted to it — that you don't really want to ditch it.

 

I met many people who had left the money behind. But having "enough" didn't trigger the change. It had to get personal: Something had to happen such as divorce, the death of a parent, or the recognition that the long hours were hurting one's children. (One man, Don Linn, left investment banking after he came home from a business trip and his two-year-old son didn't recognize him.)

 

The ruling assumption is that money is the shortest route to freedom. Absurdly, that strategy is cast as the "practical approach." But in truth, the opposite is true. The shortest route to the good life involves building the confidence that you can live happily within your means (whatever the means provided by the choices that are truly acceptable to you turn out to be). It's scary to imagine living on less. But embracing your dreams is surprisingly liberating. Instilled with a sense of purpose, your spending habits naturally reorganize, because you discover that you need less.

 

This is an extremely threatening conclusion. It suggests that the vast majority of us aren't just putting our dreams on ice — we're killing them.

 

http://www.fastcompany.com/45909/what-should-i-do-my-life

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Best sellers don't make one non-hack.

 

BTW, I don't dispute that some of his facts/stories are interesting. It's how he writes that I object.

 

And I personally don't give a crap what you think about what I did or did not do in my life.

 

Have a good one.

 

 

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What about people who don't know what their dream is? People who have no passions?!

 

I am in that category. I don't really have a dream job. And I think most people are in some kind of situation like that. In fact I would say not knowing what you want to do in life is basically the story of everyone including teenagers and the very young. You basically never spend time on the problem your whole life. And there is no known way to solve it or even any advice.

 

There is also the question of whether a dream job even exists for most people. A job is doing the same thing, year after year. I find that concept boring.

 

But forget finding your dream. Lets crawl first before we walk. How about just not having to do something you hate?! Most people have a hard enough time figuring that out.

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What about people who don't know what their dream is? People who have no passions?!

 

I am in that category. I don't really have a dream job. And I think most people are in some kind of situation like that. In fact I would say not knowing what you want to do in life is basically the story of everyone including teenagers and the very young. You basically never spend time on the problem your whole life. And there is no known way to solve it or even any advice.

 

There is also the question of whether a dream job even exists for most people. A job is doing the same thing, year after year. I find that concept boring.

 

But forget finding your dream. Lets crawl first before we walk. How about just not having to do something you hate?! Most people have a hard enough time figuring that out.

 

Great question and comment.

 

I agree with the first part that a lot of people don't have a dream/passion/ideal job.

 

I disagree that there is no way to solve this. The somewhat expensive way is to get good life coaching. It's not guaranteed to work, but I've seen really impressive people in that area and IMO impressive results. The somewhat cheap way is to do-yourself. There are ways to analyze what you like and dislike, to pay more attention to both your current situation and your future, to plan, to not get stuck, and progress. Not easy, but possible IMO. There are free resources and supportive people for at least some of these so you don't have to go alone.

 

Finally, I somewhat agree that any job is not all sunshine and unicorns all the time even if you love it. And, yes, a lot of people who even have a dream don't realize how tough the job actually is. "Oh, I want to be a writer, a dancer, a pet zoo owner, a fireman, etc.". And then you have to write when you don't want to write, dance with broken leg, get crapped by an elephant and get third degree burns in the fire. Or like you say just boring routine. But again there are ways to deal with it and that's another part where ... see above ... there are expensive ways and cheap ways. :)

 

If you have concrete questions, shoot me a PM or post here.

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What about people who don't know what their dream is? People who have no passions?!

 

First: 

 

What should I do with my life? isn't just a productivity issue: It's a moral imperative. It's how we hold ourselves accountable to the opportunity we're given.

 

Second:

 

Your calling isn't something you inherently "know," some kind of destiny. Far from it. Almost all of the people I interviewed found their calling after great difficulty.

 

...

 

Most of us don't get epiphanies. We only get a whisper — a faint urge. That's it. That's the call.

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I don't believe anything you "have to" do 40 hours a week is a dream. Certainly there's a lot of difference in the kind of job but the mere fact you need to sacrifice such a large part of your life not doing whatever you feel like doing at a particular time is a huge restriction of my liberty (and therefore quality of life). This is why dream state is financial independance.

 

This doesn't mean I'd do a job I hate for many many years to get there. It's basically an optimization function where you try to minimize the undesirability of the things you need to do. Having a job that's interesting and you don't hate is important, but I don't see how I would ever love a job.

 

Btw: I don't have the illusion, desire or feel the obligation to have a long term impact in the world as a whole. I'll continue try to make things as good as I can for myself and those close to me and will be quite satisfied if I achieve that long term.

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