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Working at a hobby

Retirement age triggers some to start anew, doing jobs they especially enjoy


Tom Pollack, 62, has been a partner at Irell & Manella, a Santa Monica, Calif., law firm, for 35 years. He specialized in white-collar criminal defense and business litigation. But he always had a passion for architecture.

"Whenever I bought a house, I was interested in fixing it up," Pollack said. "I always liked different styles of architecture. I always had a good eye for it. I took an architectural drawing class in high school, and I loved it. I never thought of pursuing it."

He attended a Hudson Institute workshop, which brought clarity to his passion but it didn't mean giving up the law. He dropped the business litigation portion of his practice and used the time that it freed up to buy homes that needed work. He teamed with an architect to remodel the homes and sold them for a profit.

He plans to continue both careers.

"I don't see myself retiring," he said. "I always see myself working."

It's not too early for workers in their mid-40s to explore options so they can schedule their retirement years, Piktialis said.

And those who enjoy their current careers are likely to have some advantages, since many companies are considering plans to allow older workers to stay on the job part-time and receive partial retirement benefits, said David DeLong, author of Lost Knowledge, Confronting the Threat of An Aging Workforce. Many companies are concerned about losing the expertise of their more seasoned workers because so many baby boomers will be eligible to retire during the same time span.

"There will be an effort made to retain or recruit them back," DeLong said.

And several workers will choose to spend their second careers as entrepreneurs.

"Currently, 10 percent of older workers say they expect to start a new business," DeMattos said. "And it is upwardly trending."

That's the case with Donahue, who started the boating business after life as a banker and owning a consulting firm. But in his off hours, he always was restoring boats in a workshop in his basement. To hone his skills, he took home-study courses in yacht survey and naval architecture. Donahue, who began building boats with his father when just 10 years old, knew the time was right when he decided to start the business.

"I've always been enamored with wooden boats," Donahue said. "I thought, `If not now, when?' "

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