Sometimes you’ve just gotta do it. Those paintings you’ve been giving away could produce an income, those stories you tell may be in demand, and the corporate expertise you became famous for during your career may now be worth something as a consultant.
And in my case, someone may need my voice or my voices. Voice acting is my new thing, and I am throwing (literally hurling) my talents into cyberspace. While patience is not one of my virtues, persistence is, so the glass-half-full analogy is alive and well. Interestingly, I am met with a mixture of kudos and disbelief by my age peers when I reveal my new endeavor.
A few years back, JP Morgan Chase reported that an increasing number of seniors are supplementing their income through what is called the online platform economy. Since doing work from home is especially suited for seniors, it only stands to reason that as a segment, we continue to multiply. Even though the study showed that most participants in the platform economy are younger workers, seniors account for nearly 1 percent of it, compared to 3.1 percent of the general population. With more than 47 million seniors in America, this translates to over 400,000 seniors participating in the world of remote or cyber-work, and that number has no doubt grown since the pandemic lockdown and beyond. No one knows how old you are online, and the chance of ageist reactions and rejections shrinks exponentially.
None of this would have been possible a few decades ago. Back when my interest in voice-over work and narration was at its peak, the digital world was nonexistent. Unless you could go to a studio in person and demonstrate your skills or make professional demo tapes or CDs and mail them to every talent agency and public relations firm on earth (or you knew somebody), the pool for voice talent was fairly exclusive. Way back then, a friend of ours who was ensconced in doing local theater told me she had dabbled in voice-over work; when I enviously inquired about diving into it, she discouraged me, saying that unless I had an acting or radio background, I’d be diving head first into that shallow pool I just mentioned. So I didn’t.
But things have changed. Bodies age, but our talents often do not. I know 70+-year-old karaoke singers who sound like 35-year-olds and retired corporate executives who have become consulting gurus, doing contract work when they feel so compelled. Others have created online courses so that the young can benefit from the lessons of the seasoned among us. Me? The goofy voices, accents, characters, colors, and moody sounds that have resided within me since I was a teen are still there, and I am finally unleashing them on the world.
If you are one of those people, like me, who is considering taking their creative talents and making a new career for yourself in later life, no matter how talented you think you are, you have to throw a lot of pasta up against walls to see what sticks. It’s not for the faint of heart. But at our age, what do we have to lose, and if not now, when?
It’s a number game. Social media must become second nature to you. Think about it this way: What was once considered boastful is now called “self-marketing.” If you don’t put your intentions out there, no one will notice you or even value the wealth of talent that occupies your innards. I figure I can’t give myself the luxury of hoping to be “discovered.” I have to make this little dream happen, just as I did when I submitted a writing sample and idea for this blog to the person who would become my Psychology Today editor nearly a decade ago.
There's increasing evidence that the payoff of working past age 65 goes beyond income to better health and longevity. A 2016 study of approximately 3,000 people, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggested that working even one more year beyond retirement age was associated with a 9 percent to 11 percent lower risk of dying during the 18-year study period, regardless of health. A year earlier, a study of 83,000 older adults over 15 years, published in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, suggested that (compared with people who retired) those who worked past age 65 were about three times more likely to report being in good health and about half as likely to have serious health problems.
Is there another fun career in you? No time like the present to find out, and the world of knowledge and advice about it is at your fingertips online. I wish you luck, an enduring sense of hope, and good health while you find out. In the meantime, if you hear an engaging audiobook voice with a British, Southern, or general American accent telling a story, check to see if it’s me.