Careers at Midlife
I’m reading a fascinating book, ENCORE: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, by Marc Freeman.
Here are some of his thoughts:
Retirement as we’ve known it is in the midst of being displaced as the central institution of the second half of life. It’s being supplanted by a new stage of life opening up between the end of midlife and the arrival of true old age, a period that essentially amounts to the second half of life, at least adult life. And that’s just the half of it: The new phase under development is every bit as much a new stage of work.
We now know that baby boomers are going to work longer than their parents did, whether they have to or want to, or most likely of all, will be propelled to extended working lives by some combination of the two. Four out of five boomers consistently tell researchers that they expect to work well into what used to be known as the retirement years. And half of those between 50 and 70 say that they want to do work that improves life in their communities.
The movement of millions of these individuals into a new phase of work constitutes one of the most significant transformations in work this country has witnessed since millions of women broke through to new roles in the labor market, roles that had been off-limits to their mothers’ generation. And much like the movement of women into the workplace, boomers’ extended stay on the job is likely to have reverberations for all generations and for the very nature of work in America.
Longer working lives bring with them many potential benefits for individuals—a longer time to earn and save, as well as purpose, structure, physical and mental health, and an expanding social circle. The people I profile in the book and many others are finding encore careers doing the most important and rewarding work in their lives. It’s not easy, but they are questioning their values, following their passions, rethinking their training, networking, volunteering as a way to paid employment, and selling their experience as an asset. Today’s typical 55- or 60-year-old is not interested in heading permanently for the sidelines.
Interesting stuff—and, yes, we boomers will continue to change the world. Our Encore careers will be one more major movement to add to our legendary list of far-reaching accomplishments. What a generation!!!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, if you’re a woman over fifty, you can relate. In her speech for the Democratic convention, Hillary Clinton jubilantly stated: “My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President.”
There’s no question that we boomers were the transitional generation that drove this truly remarkable achievement. In fact, we indelibly redefined the role of women forever!
We joined forces, mounted our movement, and fought the establishment and the male chauvinists. Despite considerable bumps, bruises, and blows to our ego, we cracked the glass ceiling and did much to liberate women from second-rate jobs and second-class citizenship.
We took women out of the kitchen and into the boardroom, exchanged our lace petticoats for tool belts, and went from selling at bake sales to selling on Wall Street. In fact, we go-getting gals accomplished greater strides in the name of womankind than our foremothers ever dared to imagine.
So let’s take a little time to give ourselves a long overdue and richly deserved pat on the back. Let’s celebrate Labor Day proudly wearing a bright pink collar. Although there’s much more to do, we gals certainly have come a long, long way!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
We’ve now reached the third and final stage of the transitions process. (My last several posts have dealt with emotional states that an individual typically experiences when going through a major life change.)
Somewhere towards the end of the “pit stage,” the urge to look back, mourn your losses, and remain stuck in the past subsides. At this point, people begin putting the majority of their focus towards the future. They’re eager to move forward and chart a new course in life.
Although this is generally a positive time, filled with hope and anticipation, this period can also present some pitfalls along the way. Sometimes, people are so relieved to have put painful feelings behind them, that they can become overly eager and act impulsively.
If one is conducting job search, something might come along and she’s offered a position. Although her head is telling them to take it, reservations are lurking somewhere in the back of her mind. For such scenarios, it is always best to have created a list of seven or eight “must-haves” before mounting an active search. This provides a benchmark to measure how appropriate the job offer is and how well it will suit your individual goals and needs.
Finally, at the end of the transition process, an individual moves through to her next life stage and onto acceptance and understanding of the experience. Usually, she will gain a new perspective about herself, her strengths, her aspirations and needs, and her own life’s path.
Williams Bridges, author of the book, Transitions, defined the process: an ending followed by a period of distress and confusion leading to a new beginning. And Elisabeth Kübler Ross also wrote of transitions in her book, On Death and Dying. She identified similar transitional stages, which she called the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
So, when undergoing any major life transition, be it the loss of a job, being faced with a serious illness, or other events that have a significant impact on you, realize that there are certain predictable stages and certain emotional states that are a part of the process. Know also that you will come out on the other side having gained a greater knowledge of yourself and the strength of your own inner resources.
As Ben Stein, writer, TV personality, and actor said: “It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated…it is finished only when it surrenders.”
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Whenever a person undergoes any major life transition, there are typical emotional states that she will experience. We’ll now take a look at the second stage… the most difficult and painful part of the process. (If you haven’t read my previous post, please refer to it now so that you can understand the first stage and the beginning of the process.)
Once the initial shock has subsided, reality sinks in. This part of the transition process is often called, “the pit stage” and with good reason. People come face-to-face with the fact that life will be different. They frequently experience feelings of sadness and grief at their loss. Many will feel anxious and afraid and some will become withdrawn and consumed with worry. In the case of a job loss, people will often ask themselves, “Will I ever find another job I like?” Or, “How can I pay the rent and put food on the table?”
These are real concerns and we don’t want to minimize them in any way. One of the best methods to address such fears is to face them head on. In the case with finances, it’s wise to put pen to paper and write out a detailed budget. Which payments must you make on a monthly basis? Where can you economize? Who can you turn to if you need emergency funds? By putting your budget down on paper, you’ll take your fears from an amorphous, black cloud hanging over your head to a concrete plan. This should help to alleviate a number of your concerns and help you focus on other matters.
As far as finding a new position, you’ll want to do the same thing. Do your research, talk with people, get your resume together, and make a plan. How many calls will you make each day? How many resumes will you send out weekly? How many hours will you put towards your search on a daily basis? By writing out your action steps, you can provide a tracking process for your search. This will give you something tangible to refer to and will greatly help with any feelings of anxiety that the pit stage can bring.
And, finally, try to focus on your future with optimism. Many of us are advocates of the Law of Attraction, and we’ve seen how positive thoughts influence outcomes in our lives. So, track your successes, have confidence in your abilities, and chart your course. Success will be waiting just around the corner.
Be sure to come back and take a look at the third and final stage of transition; what to watch for and how to move forward on your very own path to a brighter future.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
In my last post, I talked about how corporate downsizing is an unavoidable fact of life in today’s economy. I also mentioned that, rather than being a bad thing, losing one’s job can actually prove the threshold to new and fulfilling directions. Sometimes, undergoing a shake-up, whether wanted or not, can jolt us out of merely going through the motions and awaken us to living on a more conscious basis.
Nevertheless, when one is laid off, especially from long-term employment, she generally experiences a roller coaster of emotions. There are, however, certain predictable stages to periods of major life transitions and it’s helpful to know what to expect. That way, you and your loved ones can prepare.
The first stage reported by those who are experiencing major shifts in their lives is usually one of shock, denial, and disbelief. People say that they feel somewhat numb and there is a sense of unreality attached to the situation. They often have trouble concentrating and making plans. Life feels fuzzy and out of kilter.
Another coping mechanism many use is to minimize the impact of the experience. Individuals may swear that “it’s no big deal” and that their lives are relatively unaffected by the change. Some may even experience a bit of an emotional high. This is often seen in news stories of families who have lost their homes due to a natural disaster. “We’ve lost everything… but we’re okay. We’re altogether, we’re safe, and we’ll rebuild. After all, these were just things.” Such sentiments are admirable but often change after the shock has worn off. It is almost as if our subconscious tries to buffer the blow by denying its impact—a form of self-protection until we can deal with the situation.
Others may use anger to divert their more vulnerable feelings. It’s often easier to get angry and place blame outside of ourselves and onto those around us. That way, the shock and hurt are masked as we become consumed with self-righteous resentment. “How could they do this to me after all I’ve done?” or “I’ve worked my tail off for these people and this is how they repay me!”
In my next post, we’ll address stage two of the transition period. Whether you’re experiencing the loss of your job or other major, life-altering event, the road to renewal may be a rocky one. Despite the initial pain, however, the change often leads to a revitalized sense of self and on to new challenges and exciting directions.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
« Previous Entries