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Boomers, want to redefine happiness in your work and life? Hire a coach

As you ponder your next chapter, here's a question to ask yourself: Are you a joiner or a builder?

Yosaif August is a senior coach, helping retirees figure out what they want to do next in life.
Yosaif August is a senior coach, helping retirees figure out what they want to do next in life.Read moreJessica Griffin / Staff Photographer

Ann Mintz enjoyed a decades-long career as a museum director and professional fund-raiser for institutions such as the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester and Reading Terminal Market. She quit last year and was on the verge of retirement. But at 70, Mintz realized she just wasn't done. So she sought out a life coach for her next act.

At her local Mount Airy Learning Tree, she met Yosaif August, a certified life coach and founding member of the Meetup group Encore Community of Philadelphia, which gets together monthly. He also coaches and teaches courses at Main Line School Night and Temple University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

August, 73, who trained with the International Coach Federation, went through a reinvention himself.

He and his wife ran a profitable executive-recruiting and human-resources business in New York City for many years. Finally, he said, one day "I turned to my wife and said, 'Sweetheart, I don't want to do this work anymore.' I was sick of it." The couple relocated to Mount Airy, a leafy Philadelphia neighborhood.

August had read about life coaching and exploring post-retirement possibilities, and he realized that "I like to help people figure out what those possibilities are and then ask of themselves, 'Which is mine?' "

"I'm working now," he said, "because I'm deeply excited and purposeful. Financially, I have to work. My wife and I made financial decisions that caused us to sell our house and our second property, a farm near Woodstock, N.Y. Those were decisions that we both made to embrace a life that was more meaningful and fun." (While he trained to become a coach, August's wife trained to become a rabbi.)

What do his senior clients get out of his coaching?

One woman, a high-level graphics designer, learned to support herself by day trading. "She wants to make money for herself and free her up to do good work in the world," August said. Another, a lawyer, found he loved being a social worker after retiring from the law.

As you ponder your own next chapter, he said, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

• Are you a joiner or a builder?

• How do I reinvent a job that I hate into one that gives me freedom to do what I want?

• How do I get unstuck from being mired in debt and responsibility?

"For instance, I asked a doctor client: Do you want to join something established or create something? She realized she's a joiner; she wanted the flexibility to teach yoga, and so she took a job with an urgent-care company, but she doesn't want something full time."

Mintz is sculpting her next act. An early high-tech adopter, she now teaches a class on how to buy and sell on eBay. She's still looking for a full-time job. Working with August for the last few months "helped me understand my primary drivers: being useful and making a difference. I'm not ready to stop working. I have skills, so it seems silly to stop."

She's done "a ton of job interviews," she said. "I don't need to work financially – I need it psychologically. I got dispirited in the process, but now I got back to a sense of myself. I'm more selective now" when applying for jobs.

"I've been working since I was 20, and never really analyzed a strong sense of how special all my skills were," Mintz said. "I also just learned that I'm funny!"

Her homework? To write down these things: What are her drivers? Who is she? What are a list of good things about herself?

"There are a lot of people over 50 looking for work, and conventional wisdom is take your college graduation off your resume. I didn't: If someone wants a 35-year-old, they don't want me. I'm not going to make three-quarters of my career disappear," she said. "It's silly to pretend I'm younger than I am. I have a killer work ethic. And I don't do needlepoint."

The Encore Community's next meet-up is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill branch, 8711 Germantown Ave.; aims to help age 50-plus individuals define goals and find opportunities to benefit society. Books on the topic include From Drift to Shift: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life by Jody Miller, and Designing Your Life, by Stanford University professors who teach a course with that title.