Freelance After 50 Newsletter

F50 Issue #19: Five Ways to Find Your Next Adventure

Published 3 months ago • 5 min read

F50 Issue #19: April 2, 2024

New Adventures in Unretirement: Five Lessons from Carl Fredricksen

Last week, we watched our oldest daughter set off on a new adventure as we celebrated her marriage. A beautiful chapter of her life has begun, with many pages waiting to be written.

And as we think about love and adventure, we can’t help thinking about one of our favorite movies of all time — “Up”! The main character, Carl Fredricksen, also enjoyed a beautiful love story, but he’s at a different stage of life.

Instead of anticipating new adventures, he’s retired from his job as a balloon salesman. And at the age of 78, he slogs away in his house all day, trying to resist change. In his mind, he failed to fulfill an important promise to his wife, and he’s grumpy with the world.

But little does he know that his new adventure is just beginning. When he’s forced to leave his house, his next stop is Shady Oaks Retirement Village. Or is it?

Through an unexpected sequence of events, Carl finds a way out of his predicament and meets a young Boy Scout named Russell who helps him experience a new life, new adventure, and renewed purpose.

As you can see on movie posters, Carl’s adventure centers around his house and thousands of balloons that help it fly to South America. Through this experience, and his friendship with eight-year-old Russell, Carl undergoes a shift in retirement mindset.

He finds strength he never knew he had, and purpose that dissolves his grumpiness and gives him a reason to get up in the morning.

So, how does this relate to freelancing after 50? Well, sometimes as 50+ people, we think our adventures are over. We fold up our dreams and hide them in a drawer, assuming it’s too late.

But it’s not. You have plenty more chapters to be written, and new adventures await in unretirement. Just like Carl, you can find a new life and renewed purpose.

Your ideal career doesn’t have to end just because you reach a certain age. You have so much more to offer, and opportunities await for you to learn and grow.

With that in mind, here are five lessons from the movie that inspire us to grab hold of our own balloons and take flight.

Five Ways to Find New Adventures in Unretirement

1. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Carl had given up. When he failed to fulfill a promise to his wife, he figured his adventuring days were over, and his dreams were dashed. But when his mindset shifted, he realized he wasn’t too old.

After 64 years, he set his dreams in motion again and discovered new abilities and renewed energy to begin a meaningful chapter in his life.

If you’re considering a career in freelancing but feel like Carl did, be encouraged by this advice from Stephanie O’Brien in her article, “What the Movie ‘Up’ Teaches Us About Why People Do Or Don't Reach Their Dreams”:

“Take one step - it can open the door for the next step to appear.”

2. See challenges as opportunities.

When two nurses show up to take Carl to Shady Oaks Retirement Village, Carl is spurred into action. Instead of accepting defeat, he embraces this challenge as an opportunity to pursue his own dreams.

This attitude relates to the concept of fixed vs. growth mindsets, terms coined by Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In an article titled “Growth Mindset Vs. Fixed Mindset: What's The Difference?” Catherine Cote explains how a growth mindset can benefit aspiring entrepreneurs, including you if you decide to pursue freelancing after 50:

“When you have a growth mindset, you believe you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed, which makes every challenge a learning opportunity. Given the numerous challenges entrepreneurs face, a growth mindset can be a powerful tool as you work toward your venture’s success.”

3. Seize the day.

As you’ll see in the movie, Carl had to act fast. Two paths opened up to him, and he had to choose which one he’d follow — the path leading to forced retirement or the one leading toward his dreams.

When you become a freelancer, you’re choosing a path that leads to flexible, meaningful, and profitable work done on your terms. If you have the opportunity to pursue this dream, don’t hesitate to travel down that path.

As mentioned above, the journey begins with one step, and that step can start today. Maybe your first step is reading this newsletter, or talking to someone who’s traveled further along the freelance path. Seize the day and find your own ideal first step!

4. Be creative with transferable skills.

As a retired balloon salesman, Carl uses his transferable skills to give his house wings. He has the right supplies and knowledge to figure out how many balloons he needs to lift up his house and transport it to South America.

Throughout the movie, we see his creativity unleashed as he finds solutions to his challenges. If you’re pursuing freelancing after 50, remember that you have a wealth of experience, skills, and knowledge to draw on too.

Whenever you face challenges, think of Carl with his balloons and seek creative answers, no matter how outlandish they may seem!

5. Let go of what’s holding you back.

Carl had to take risks to fulfill his dreams, and at times he made sacrifices. He also had to battle against his own mindset that was holding him back from living a life of new adventures.

Is there something holding you back from your dreams, keeping you from considering the possibility of a second-act career and a life filled with freelance freedom? Whether it’s ageism, discouragement, fear, or other factors, work hard to identify them and let them go.

An article from The Paula G. Company says it best:

“The important thing is to do what you can from where you are, to notice and remove the things that you've been prioritizing above your dreams, and to focus on why you CAN reach your goals, not why you ‘can't.’”

As Scott Myers says in his article, Movie Analysis: Up, “Carl’s disposition changes as well — from cantankerous old man, just stringing out the days until he dies, to an upbeat, vital, and ‘alive’ version of himself.” That’s the unretirement mindset in action!

Work-From-Home Wisdom

In the movie, eight-year-old Russell unexpectedly becomes a stowaway in Carl's flying house. Impressed with Carl’s homemade transportation, Russell remarks, “You know, most people take a plane, but you’re smart because you’ll have all your TV and clocks and stuff.”

That sums up the beauty of having a home office when you become a freelancer. You can equip it so that you have everything you need as a home base for your business.

Here are some important tips to make it a productive environment:

  • Establish a primary workspace.
  • Have good lighting.
  • Invest in an ergonomically sound chair.
  • Keep your workspace clean and organized.
  • Add a touch of inspiration (e.g. pictures and plants).
  • Ensure it is a quiet space.
  • Establish boundaries with others in your home.
  • Use soothing music ( or noise blockers (e.g. a headset).
  • Always have a full water glass on your desk.
  • If you need a fresh perspective, schedule time out at your favorite “work locations.”

Words to Live By

“Imagine all the wonderful things that will never happen if you do not let them.” – Ellie

Here’s to tying balloons to your own dreams and watching them take flight as you find new adventures in unretirement!

Until next time,

Co-founders of Freelance University

431B 41st Avenue NE - Unit 94, Calgary, AB T2E 2N4
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Freelance After 50 Newsletter

Craig & Kelly Cannings, Co-founders of Freelance University

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