by Stephanie Gonzalez
Many of us lose track of dreams as we go through life. I am one of those people.
I know I am not alone. How many of us let life get in the way of our doing what we love? Wouldn’t it be nice to sail into retirement with a second act career plan that lets you feel grounded and allows for flexibility at the same time?
When you bury your dreams, it takes longer than you think to unearth them. I remember how silly it seemed forty years ago to think I could earn a living as a freelance writer. So I let the dream go. Now with the explosion of the internet, which is based entirely on writing, my silly dream seems more like a realistic goal. I decided to unearth that old dream and construct a new career plan as a freelance writer. A freelance business may be the perfect plan for me when I leave my full-time career. When I am ready, I want to step out of one adventure and into another one.
Here’s why and how I decided to take the next step.
I spent the last 30 years in graduate school, college athletics, the nonprofit sector, law enforcement and the court. Talk about a cornucopia of fields. I did not foresee any of these work changes. Each decision to shift careers was the perfect choice for me at that time and I would not change any of it.
To determine what I want to do once I retire, I dug deep, did the work and came out on the other side with clarity and direction. What I found is that all the different positions I held through the years worked together to help form the person I am today . My writing skills came from jobs in college athletics, the nonprofit sector and law enforcement. My listening skills and the ability to understand people and their life situations came from law enforcement and the court.
FIND YOUR NICHE
I knew I wanted to write. But in what area? I picked a niche that is in high demand and pays well. Unfortunately, I floundered and made no headway. Everything seemed “hard”. Not the “hard” that happens when you are working on a project that challenges and energizes you. We all wish for that. This was the “hard” that no matter what I did, I hit a roadblock.
My husband suggested I change my niche to areas that I care about. He assured me that over time and with effort, the money would follow. I trust him with everything in my life and this decision is no different. Once I pinpointed the areas most meaningful to me, the ideas started to flow, the projects seemed to have a new life and my excitement returned. Back on the right path, I continued to build my business with better focus and direction.
WORK FREELANCE OR AS AN EMPLOYEE?
The next step was to decide if I prefer to work for myself or for someone else. There is a long list of positives and negatives for both options. The question was simple. What do I need and want for this next chapter of my life?
My needs for retirement were easy to identify. First, I am not done earning for our family or ready for complete retirement. Second, I must have a purpose. Next, I had to figure out exactly what I want in the next chapter of my life. My husband and I are at our best when we are together, outside in nature and spending time with our children. I want a second act that encompasses all of it.
Freelancing gives me freedom, flexibility, income and purpose. I have the ability to work around my schedule and even change locations. It’s about serving people well, not logging eight hours in the office.
Though still enjoying my primary work, I also freelance now. This is a good time to make contacts, hone my skills and develop a portfolio. I plan to build my business slowly and on my terms. In other words, I’m “trying on” freelance writing. If I discover I don’t like freelancing, I have about 6 years left in my primary career while I come up with the next plan. I like to have options – and a way to pay the bills – while I fine tune my next step. If your story is like mine, the opportunity to “try on” freelance work might be for you.
Getting started is the hardest part.Start here:
- Find your purpose
- Do online searches for different types of freelance work. Make a list of those that sound interesting to you.
- Research the details. Read about other freelancers in these fields.
- Reach out to freelancers in the areas you are interested. Many people are willing to answer questions or be mentors to others.
- Find out how much money you can realistically earn with the type of freelance work you choose. Earning a healthy income in a second act career is achievable
THE BOTTOM LINE
Take the time to dig deep to remember your dreams. It can make all the difference. What seemed unreachable before may make a lot of sense now. Building a new business for your golden years is an adventure.
Make it a point to enjoy the challenges every step of the way. If we hurry to the end of our journey, we will miss the most important part – life.
Ready to give the world of freelancing a try? Let us know how it goes!
Stephanie Gonzalez is a freelance writer and blogger that has worked for non-profit organizations, public service and education organizations during the last 25 years in her primary career. As a wife to a husband that challenges her to life adventures and a mom to two fun-loving sons, she is excited about diving further into her next career. She is absolutely passionate about educating others on two things. First, on nature and its’ impact on our health throughout our entire lives and second that when women retire from their primary careers, they aren’t done yet. You can catch up with her at windyhillwords.com.
Related article: Are You Ready to Become a Writer?