A career in PR is lived in dog years.

By age 50, there might come that moment of clarity: Hey, I can afford to retire (if I downsize my lifestyle) and so, why not?

The why-not is what Sam Dogen describes in MarketWatch: You become invisible in society.

No longer useful to those on a professional network, you are dropped.

Rat Race

Given that this is capitalism, in social contexts, your identity is completely gonzo. And, in your own sense of self you are nowhereman or nowherewoman.

I bore witness to that when I resided in southwestern Arizona. Oro Valley is jam packed with professionals, whose careers were successful enough that they could afford to buy property in a posh retirement community.

When I visited a college classmate there, it was a dire warning, at least to me, not to retire. Ever.

There is, however, a way out of all the negatives associated with early retirement — or any retirement.

That requires imagination.

Surprisingly, a lot of previously buttoned-down professionals have become capable of this bit of creativity. Late in life they find their inner Don Draper from “Mad Men.”

The solution: Create a fictional professional identity.

It can be entirely smoke and mirrors. For example, I coached a retired lawyer in the Youngstown, Ohio area. He created a make-believe global online business editing material related to law for English markets.

It’s a respected line of work. People treat him as an equal — that is as a fellow participant in the capitalist struggle to earn a buck. He has both his leisure and his social engagement.

On the other hand, the new professional identity can have a basis in reality. A woman I coached in central Connecticut had retired from middle management in human resources. She could bring in about $14,000 more transforming her love of horses into a small business.

However, in positioning and packaging that pursuit, she made it seem like a big business. Not only had the market for her services grown, but she receives more respect now than when she had been part of the Fortune 100 establishment.

A make-believe or inflated professional identity may become the road more traveled by those over 50.

Increasingly I am hearing from both my communications and coaching clients that work is over-rated.

They even use clichés such as the “rat race.”

Their tone is so dark that I fear that some will throw themselves under a Metro North train in Greenwich, CT.

So, yes, I ask them if they are conjuring up suicidal ideation. Then, we take it from there. The direction is usually in the direction of early retirement.


Jane Genova helps get attention for products, services, points of view, causes, branding, careers after-50, and college admission. Contact her at [email protected] for a free consultation.