Q&A with Nancy Collamer, Profitable Passions

Alike (18" x 24") by Diana Elena Chelaru, acrylic painting

Alike (18" x 24") by Diana Elena Chelaru, acrylic painting

Nancy Collamer knows how to profit from passion.

Through her website “My Lifestyle Career,” a bimonthly newsletter, active social media forums, her book, “Second Act Careers,” and a private practice, Nancy enhances and invigorates countless lives with ideas and strategies on how turn a passion into a semi-retirement plan. 

With a background in corporate HR and a master’s in career development, Nancy began her private practice 20 years ago and has been guiding people to fun and flexible careers ever since.  

Whether you have a passion for art, or travel, or even cheese, Nancy lays out the best ways to use turn those joys into your “second act.”

In this special Q&A feature, we discuss breaking from a nine-to-five work life, discovering your passions, and the benefiting from the joys of art.

Nancy Collamer

Nancy Collamer

Tell us a bit about yourself and “My Lifestyle Career.” How did you get started helping people find and profit from their passions in semi-retirement?

My background is in corporate HR, but I went back to school and got a master’s in career development. I have had a private practice since 1996 but for the first 15 years or so of my private practice my focus was on helping moms who wanted to work on a flexible basis.

As my own kids got older and went off to their own lives, I was ready for a change. Now, that was 2008 and was just at the point of the financial crisis. Suddenly, everyone around me, especially my peers in their 50s, was saying, “I thought I was going to be able to retire. And now, because everyone’s savings accounts plummeted, I don’t know if I can afford to retire.”

The lightbulb went off. The issues that the Baby Boomers were facing that were facing was that they wanted they it to work on a full-time basis.

I have a lifetime of expertise in finding and creating flexible work that I can apply to this whole demographic.

4 years ago, I published my book “Second Act Careers.” The whole intention of the book and the website and everything that I write and speak about is to help people find ways to work in fun and flexible ways to work in their semi-retirement years.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in his or her search for a “second-act” passion?

The first thing I always emphasize to people is to spend some time organizing the information about your past by writing down highlights of the past 30 years. Ask yourself: What were your favorite jobs? What were your favorite responsibilities in and out of work?

Spend some time thinking about what you found most meaningful, what you love to do, and what you did well. If you find something that falls in all three of those categories, that is what I call “the trifecta.”

It is at the intersection of those three things that we can explore what is out there in terms of flexible and fun jobs, on a part time basis.

Like any research project, the key is to put yourself into that world and surround yourself with information and stories of people who are in their second act. I have a newsletter that I send out twice a month just for that.

I have found that the more time you spend those spaces surrounded with information and stories, the better off you will be when you are ready to make that change.

Nearly half of the artists we represent on UGallery are 50+ years old. What is it about creating art that makes it such an alluring second act?

I think that it has to do with several things. First, I think that at our hearts, we are creative beings. So many times, when people are in their full-time careers, they are squeezed into a box and they are not in a position to fully express their creativity

Another thing is that creating art is a form of leaving a legacy. This is a factor that becomes very important as people start to age. That legacy could range from creating works that are inspiring and beautiful, to creating some sort of artwork that is socially relevant and moves people to act or highlights a social injustice.

I think it also gets back to the issue that when you are in your 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, you have a lifetime of experiences that you can reflect upon which can help people create even richer artwork.

Many of the articles you write focus on ways to “profit from your passion. What advice can you give our UGallery artists, and other artists reading our blog, for ways to continue to maximize their passions?

When trying to monetize your passion, whether you are an artist or not, using your hobby can be challenging. The single best thing to do is to spend some time looking at other successful artists and analyzing their revenue streams on the web, joining groups of artists or just talking to people.

I love going to crafts fairs. It is just fascinating to see what people are selling and who is selling a lot. Inevitably, there are a few booths with a ton of traffic and some booths where the artists are sitting by themselves.  

In addition to the financial profits from pursuing a passion during semi-retirement, what are some of the more intangible benefits? Are there any benefits particular to art?

I think it gets back to what we were just talking about do get the opportunity to express creativity. Opening your creative self helps people with psychological and emotional benefits. It becomes a form of meditation – lots of health and emotional benefits to creativity.

There is also a tremendous social benefit as people who get involved in new communities. Many people underestimate the isolation of walking away from a full-time job. And after you walk away, people start to miss that community of likeminded individuals.

Do you collect art? Or, are there any pieces on UGallery that catch your eye?

Actually, I have one of those big birthdays coming up and my family is pestering me about what I want. I’ve been racking my brain because I am at the point where I don’t need any more stuff. But, I realized I didn’t have any original art.

So, I would love to commission an original oil painting of Todd Point.

Many of our collectors are 50+ years old as well. What do you think it is about collecting art that becomes more appealing as one approaches their second act?

It’s interesting because I think the thought process as you get older becomes wanting things that are permanent and non-disposable to become your legacy. Most people have enough junk and stuff, but only a few items that they really want to past down. Art is something that you pass down, which appeals to people later in life.

In addition to the element of permanence, and then as you get older you have an appreciation for things that speak to your legacy and social justice, and I think art does just that. 

Special thanks to Nancy Collamer!