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What Skills Will You Use in the Second Half of Life?

By Marc Miller March 21, 2023 Managing Money

Have you thought about what kind of skills you want to carry with you into the second half of your life?

Have you thought about the skills you wish to leave behind?

Notice, I said skills and not talents. Do you know the difference between your talents and skills? For an in-depth discussion, please check out my post, Talents versus Skills – Do you know the difference?

A talent is a special ability that comes naturally.

A skill comes from one’s knowledge, practice, or aptitude. A skill is learned.

Do you see the difference?

Typically, we learn skills to either make us employable or to do something we enjoy. We learn skills to make us employable based on market demands. We learn skills to do something we enjoy (think hobby) because we want to learn them. There is a big difference.

Skills that are not based on your innate talents can wear you out if you overuse them.

Overused or Abused Skills

I am a remarkable public speaker. I spent over 10 years working for IBM, where my primary job was presenting. I have been speaking as part of my job for over 20 years. It was a skill that I honed, and I have won multiple awards for best speaker at technology conferences. It is a skill and not a talent.

Burnout often occurs when you overuse a skill that is not based on your innate talents. Think about that!

When I started my business, Career Pivot, I knew I would be presenting as a way to promote my business. I have to be very careful not to overuse that skill. When I walk off the stage after giving an energetic and motivational talk, I am exhausted. I do not get energy from being on stage since I am a closet introvert. For me, public speaking is a skill and not a talent.

In your career, have you developed skills that leave you exhausted or bored after extended periods of use?

Walking Away from Valuable Skills

Have you reached a point where you simply do not want to do what you are doing anymore?

Twice, I have walked away from the high technology sector. Each time people told me:

Why would you want to stop? You are paid so well!

Oh, you are so good at it! Why would you stop?

I was seduced back into high tech because I listened to these messages, only to leave again three years later.

You may have skills that you simply do not want to use in the 2nd half of life. Your close friends and family may question your sanity, but only you know what is right.

Skills Carried Forward into the 2nd Half of Life

What skills do you want to carry forward?

You will probably carry forward skills that are not based on your talents. You just have to make sure you manage how often you use each skill.

Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it. I am very technical, but I did not develop my own website. I can do my own bookkeeping, but I decided to hire a bookkeeper. I can do these things, but I have chosen to find others to do them.

Skills from Our Hobbies

When I was a young adult, I rebuilt cars with a friend who was much older than I. As he entered his 2nd half of life, he decided to rebuild cars for others. He hated it! He wanted to work on the cars that he wanted to work on. He wanted to work on his own schedule. He wanted to work on projects that others did not want. It was only fun when he got to do it his way.

Skills developed for our own enjoyment do not always translate into a natural fit for encore careers.

Skills Inventory

Build a list of all of your skills. You will probably need help from others. Ask friends, family, and colleagues:

What am I good at?

What are my strengths?

I guarantee that you will be surprised.

Are any of these skills based on your innate talents?

Not sure what your natural talents might be? Read my post, What are your natural talents?

Create two lists of skills. One with skills based on your innate talents and one where they are not.

Take your time working on these lists. Reflect back to when you used each skill. Did you really enjoy using the skill AND were you energized when you were done?

You should now be able to determine which skills make sense to carry forward into the 2nd half of life.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are your secret talents? What dreams do you have for the second half of your life? More importantly, what steps are you taking to make them a reality? Please join the conversation.

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Jeanne Quinn

having just upended my home of 26 years I feel asl though I am in a holding pattern ih life..not sure where to start or ‘begin again.’ It’s an interesting place to be, sort of like floating…where will I dock? I knit/ I read..lifelines to who I was ‘before.’…and now??


An interesting concept I’ve not thought about. What skills will I carry forward and which ones will I leave behind. I retired 3 years ago and am still a little lost on what is important to me and what to pursue. Hopefully separating skills and talents into lists will help. Thank you for the article.


Really interesting and thought provoking article, thank you.


I can do many things- most are skills. Where my talent lies is in writing to illustrate things in order to draw in my reader. I am 76 so volunteering utilizes my skills but I get bored with it. Give me a project and I enjoy putting a plan together but then I am bored and wish to move on. So I guess that is another talent. Where do I go from here?

The Author

Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot, which helps Baby Boomers and others design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. You can follow Marc on Twitter @careerpivot or Facebook.

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