Let’s be frank: Baby Boomers today deserve a standing ovation for everything they’ve done throughout their lives. Supporting families, raising healthy children, saving what they can to ensure a happy, fulfilling retirement - that’s hard work. After 40-plus years of being responsible and looking after those you care about, it’s time to sit back and enjoy what you’ve created.

Traditionally, that has meant retiring. But today, a lot of Boomers are finding that stepping back from the working world isn’t necessarily as rewarding as they once thought. Some find that retirement won’t afford them the same standard of living that they had while working.

That’s why so many seniors are now embarking on a second, or encore, career. Choosing to go into an encore career can be an exciting, but also daunting decision. Here are a few tips to help you make your own encore as successful as possible.

Don’t embark on your dream job without doing some prep work.

Encore careers should certainly be in a field that you are passionate about, but before you dive in, you should take the time to ensure that the job you’re after will be a good match.

Do you have, or could you easily learn, the skills required? Is the pace fast or moderate? What kind of hours will you need to work? These are important questions to consider. No matter how much you’ve always wanted to be in a newsroom, for example, you may not want to start working on hourly deadlines after you’ve already put in decades in another career.

If you’re unsure what the day-to-day work will look like in your new dream job, schedule some informational interviews with professionals who are in that field. It’s a great way to learn more, while making potentially helpful contacts, too.

Give yourself a realistic timeline to make the switch.

It’s tempting to think that you’ll give up your current job, take a little time to yourself, and then jump right in to your second career with no bumps along the way.

But just think about the other times in your life when you’ve had to job search. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, it usually takes longer than you expect. According to a USA Today article, career coaches counsel those seeking a second career to give themselves three to five years to transition.

The reasons you’ll need that time are varied - you may need to learn some new skills, gain education or certifications, or get your foot in the door through volunteer work.

Know that your encore career may mean making some lifestyle changes.

It’s important to realize that you will likely take a salary cut when you embark on an encore career - unless you’re doing something like consulting in a field you’ve worked in for years.

If you’re going into an artistic or nonprofit field, this is especially true. Make sure your finances are where they need to be to ensure you can still pay your bills and maintain a standard of living that’s acceptable to you. Otherwise, your encore career can become a source of stress and worry. And that’s the very last thing it should be.

If your finances do need some help and you’ve got a life insurance policy that you no longer need, one option to consider is a life settlement - watch our video for an overview. Ask your financial advisor to discuss whether this transaction might be right for you.

Be aware that ageism in the workplace is, unfortunately, real.

While many employers are learning to value the experience and maturity that older workers bring to the workplace, it’s still a sad fact that some see older workers as a liability.

You may be forced to confront this kind of prejudice during your job search. However, there are things you can do to make yourself more desirable to potential employers. First, you can make sure that you’re current with technology, from social media to cloud services and typical office software like Microsoft Office.

Second, you can do an internship or two before applying for a full-time job. You might think internships are just for college kids, but that’s not the case anymore.

As more and more people end up pursuing multiple careers throughout their lifetimes, internships have become useful experiences for adults and seniors, too. And completing an internship in your chosen field can help you look like a more serious candidate to a potential employer.

Starting an encore career can be a rewarding alternative to retirement for seniors who find they aren’t ready to stop working. As long as you do your homework and take the time to ensure your new career will be a good fit, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pursue what you’re passionate about.

If you’d like to read more about retirement, retirement alternatives, and financial planning for this stage of life, check out the retirement articles on our blog.