Being an effective meeting planner means you’re an ace at multi-tasking, plus your networks are wide and your personal tool kits expansive. As we age and start thinking about the future, those assets will come in handy when exploring new paths of happiness or finding a truer sense of purpose throughout our golden years.

Do you have a second act in you? Or more pointedly, have you ever thought about the possibility of one at some point after your journey as a meeting professional has run its course? To be clear, I’m not referring to retirement, although for many, that might be the calmer, gentler second act that you look forward to when the time comes.

Millions of baby boomers are starting to think about bridging that potential gap of currently being gainfully employed and not yet ready to retire, but also not wanting to suffer through the climb up another ladder of success as we pivot toward new work goals for different reasons. That’s where the term “second act” comes in, or more precisely “time to find out what you really want to do when you grow up!”

In fact, statistics show that up to 75 percent of boomers (generally identified as those being born before 1964) will be working beyond their 65th birthdays, leading many of us to take a pause, pour a stiff adult beverage, and say “Can I continue at this crazy [fill in the blank] or is it time to think about taking a detour to find another passion?”

How to Find Joy

A few big sips later, you might start to ponder how to begin that search. Easy. Let your heart guide you down this path. Think about what you would spend time doing if you weren’t afraid of failing, because at this stage in your life it’s not about failure. It’s about self-fulfillment, finding more joy in daily work and putting more pep in your step as opposed to reaching higher sales goals or stretching yourself for a job promotion that will most likely increase your stress levels along with required work hours.

This reflective scavenger hunt is all about challenging yourself—before it’s too late—to be the author of your own ending, thinking more specifically about the overall body of work. Some call it your personal legacy, that you want to leave behind as opposed to the dollar amount in your bank account.

Have you been a great team leader on your journey? Maybe it’s time for you to teach. Does your daily joy come from food discoveries? Perhaps you need to start a food blog to express that passion. Have you been super successful at organizing events? Maybe there’s a business idea in that level of success.

Essential Q&A

Here are some quick questions to start the dialogue moving forward:

  • When you were young, how did you answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Are you anywhere near that answer now or is there still a fire in you to explore whatever your younger self was dreaming about back then?
  • Think about your upcoming retirement age—whatever that is for you—and start to look at financial numbers, most importantly, do you still need to work because of money, or can you start to focus on something that brings you joy even if there is little or no income involved in it?
  • Try to answer the question, “before I die, I want to. . .”. Did that answer come quickly or are you still thinking?

If you’re struggling to answer or are uncomfortable thinking about the answers to any of these, you might need a reality check as you gaze into your own personal crystal ball. If you’re already halfway through your expected life span, then it’s probably time to do an individual review on all angles—personal and business—to see if your goals are still aligned with what they were when you got that first job out of college.

Remember that some people didn’t want to get off the Titanic. Consider the invitation to explore a second act as your chance to grab a life vest before you jump.

Terry Matthews-Lombardo is currently still happy to be known first and foremost as a veteran professional meeting planner, but is doing a ‘gentle slide’ into her own second act as a travel writer focusing on meetings and detours.