Second Careers

Keep On Working

I hear all kinds of frightening statistics about the future of boomer finances. In one article, they said 4 out of 10 Americans are not able to retire because they have retirement savings of less than $10,000. Even so, there are lots of people who just don’t want to stop working. They enjoy it or are busy teaching younger people the ropes. I personally don’t see anything wrong with boomers working as long as they want. Our contribution to the economy is huge. Some say we are responsible for consuming approximately 50% of America’s products and services. If we retired and cut back on our spending, we’d create a major blow to the economy. People should be begging us to work.

Where To Start

As it stands, Boomers are starting to redesign their work experience. I figure redesigning our work life breaks down into 3 general areas.

1. People are working part time using their current skill package. For example, some are teaching as adjunct professors at colleges. These people have reasonable hours and are stimulated intellectually. They teach what they once did.

2.  People re-educating themselves to be qualified for the job that they didn’t pursue in earlier years. These folks may take courses or get certified in new professions. But this is often not enough when it’s time to go out into the job market.

When I was doing a lot of career marketing, I often worked with clients that wanted to change jobs. For example, a man who sold computers for a living wanted to be a high school teacher. He had gone back to college and been certified to teach, but was perplexed about the next move.  He said in a frustrated tone, “How can I change careers, all my experience is in selling computers?” We talked about finding his functional skills. These are the skills he developed as a computer salesman. We matched them with those he needed to be a good teacher.

As a computer salesman he had to plan and organize his daily schedule, and he had to keep track of and manage his follow up calls. He spent most of his time educating, informing and illustrating the value of his product to his customers. He had to be comfortable speaking with people and demonstrating what he was selling. These are all functional skills that teachers use as well. Specifically, teachers plan and organize their lessons, educate and manage groups of kids, inform parents and teachers, and demonstrate skills that students need to acquire. They are the same functional skill package. Even better for boomers, this package can be utilized as a full time teacher or a part time tutor.

For boomers changing careers, once you’ve identified those skills that match your history with your new career ambition, you’ll find it easy to approach people. You’ll be clear about what you have to offer.

3. The third area involves people who have no idea of exactly where they’d like to go. Initially, I would recommend folks in this category to take your functional skills and look for places you’d like to use them. This is the time to do some “information interviewing”. This interviewing is about talking to people who are doing the work you think you might want to do and asking them questions. These questions range from what do they do each day, and what skills they use, to what is the starting salary range.

Another way to find a match between your skills and work is to google ReServe. It places people in nonprofit and public work settings. As a national nonprofit organization, it’s mission is to provide professionals 55 and older with part time service work. They offer long and short term projects. It’s one way to find work that will allow you to give back and get paid for your service.

For a specific step by step procedure, including identifying your next career, writing a resume, information interviewing and interviewing for a job, see Richard Boles, What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Finding an appropriate career path is vital for a boomer who needs income and wants to have a fulfilling work world. My free ebook is designed to empower you to keep going and eliminate fears. What we do each day is vital to our happiness. Let me know if I can be of any help.

 

 

 

Midlife Twists And Turns Of Love

Love And Memories

As summer begins once again, I am reminded of the nurturing love provided by my parents even after I became an adult.  Every July 4th, while growing up, my parents took “the kids” to the fireworks. On this particular July 4th, my brother, my husband, Jim, mom, dad and I, set up a blanket and chairs in a field in Weston CT. We came early, as every fireworks veteran knew, it was the best way to get a good view. It was still light. There were temporary food stalls, game booths and rides for kids scattered around the grounds. People were milling and strolling everywhere. Excitement and community were in the air.

Grateful For Their Love

My parents were in their early 80′s. I was in midlife and my brother wasn’t far behind. I was struck with how grateful and comfortable I felt when my father and mother looked at the three of us and said, ” Why don’t you “kids” look around.” They sat, in the chairs, “holding down the fort,” as they always had. I almost started to cry. I realized this could be the last time we ever did this together and how much I would miss it. I’d miss the command of their presence. I dutifully walked around as my brother slipped into the kid mode with my husband and I. It was so nice to be taken care of in this gentle family way.

Now, my parents are gone and July 4th will never be quite the same. I will never be taken care of, loved, like that again. I remembered how much I fought for my independence as a teenager, and how trivial it seemed now that I had it.  It isn’t that I wanted to retreat and become a child again –– it was the nurturing I missed. The sense that everything would be alright, just because my parents were there. That particular July 4th, was like resting into the feeling that life is permanent and knowing deeply this was a temporary gift.  Appreciate that you have people that love you and you love. Love is a precious thing.

Summer is around the corner, but love is still in my heart. Thanks for sharing this experience with me. And don’t forget to download your copy of my free ebook on Choosing Your Future.

 

Creative Aging

It’s The Old Story

In midlife, boomers are confronted with a dilemma. Do we listen to the prevailing stereotyped beliefs from the past that states all problems of an older person are caused by being older. We can surf google and read about the negative effects of aging. You know the list: wrinkles, depression, dementia, failing knees, bad backs, and it goes on and on. Only recently, people have started to talk about the creative opportunities available as we age. Yet, overall, people still believe age is an unmanageable problem. Most say, aging itself is the loss of our ability to grow because we are no longer able.

I think something is missing. This aging story is too simplistic. I mean, do all the creative qualities of youth and experience disappear when we reach a certain number or look older? Growing up, we were all forced to choose between being creative and falling under the weight of a problem. Reaching an age does not dictate anything, but an invented story  can be positive, or negative. You get to choose which one. How great is that? As I said in an earlier post, Boomers really are special.

Rollo May, in his book The Courage To Create, said creativity was “the process of bringing something new into being.” Creativity doesn’t stop life from presenting issues for us to face at any age. But what it does do, is allow us to get involved in, and experiment with, the opportunities life presents –– even if they look like problems.

Then again, everyone knows someone like my Aunt Polly. Before my uncle died, she could be a rigid critical person. But after his death, she started to insult and even yell at people. Once she went out to the curb and yelled at the garbage man for not picking up her refuse by 10:00 AM. She got so abusive the family began to avoid her. Eventually they stopped including her in family get togethers.

Some people say, she didn’t have the ability to create good relationships. Others said, she was unable to deal with life’s disappointments. Did she lack the creativity to adjust to a new life without her husband? I don’t think it was creativity she lacked. She was able to create enemies with the garbage man and just about everyone else. Once I saw her scream at a young neighbor who made cookies for her, because they were not chocolate chip. Her problem was she couldn’t let herself grieve her lost husband. She was bitter and angry about it and projected that onto everyone else. She went down with the weight of losing one way of life and needing to finding another. It didn’t have anything to do with age.

What Story Are You Creating?

Creativity can be used positively or negatively. While Polly went down with her loss, others grieve and build new lives. For example, Pete retired from being a dentist at 65. By chance, in his early 20′s, he and a favorite Aunt, went to an English flower show. He spent most of the show looking at the roses.  Then, when he retired, he started to think about what to do with his time. Unfortunately almost as soon as he retired, his wife had a stroke and died.  A year later, while walking in a book store he saw a book on growing roses. That was it. He started to experiment the first year and soon he built his own greenhouse. He filled it with every variety and color of rose you can imagine. He was so good, folks came over just to see his flowers! Later, he started giving tours and teaching his cultivation methods to garden clubs. In his 70′s, he hit the flower show circuit.

Start Creating Your Positive Story

Can you allow yourself to get involved with the new challenges life presents? Being older doesn’t mean you have to stop using the creative juices that are bubbling in your soul. Just use it to your advantage. Try being like Pete and look at what moves you. You don’t even have to wait. You can start today. Let me know what you come up with.

 

Midlife Stress Series Part 8

Give And Receive

Another fun way to release stress and regain an internal equilibrium is to give of yourself. Giving can alter how you think about yourself. It’s a way to break out of the cycle of stress you find yourself in.

For example, at the checkout counter in a grocery store the other day, I heard the cashier ask a man if he wanted to give a $1.00 to the March of Dimes. He refused. It made me think about all the times I’ve been asked to give and refused. I would tell myself, I didn’t have the extra money right now. I’d pull back and get hard inside so I could withhold my natural desire to contribute. I’d feel small and afraid. Aren’t these the sensations of shutting down the heart, of closing it off from the world? Isn’t closing yourself off another way to feel isolated and bogged down, tight and stressed? The man at the store even physically pulled his body back from the counter when he said no. Giving with generosity is the opposite of pulling back and staying stressed out.

Have you ever paid attention to how you feel when you give a gift? Once my father bought my sister an apartment washing machine. She was very poor, at the time, and couldn’t afford to buy one for herself. As a new mother, she was overwhelmed with washing and the chores of motherhood. When she got the card announcing that the washing machine was on its way, she let out a gasp of surprised joy, burst into tears, ran across the room, and threw her arms around my father’s neck. He was so moved he started to cry.  It was beautiful. They felt so much pleasure it was evident they’d both opened their hearts. You see, one gave and both felt the joy. Giving literally spreads pleasure around from giver to receiver and back, even if it’s only $1.00. This is why they say giving breeds abundance. One person’s joy feeds the other, in this wonderful circle.

Watch this video about The Joy of Giving Week. It’s clear here. Pay attention to the faces of both boys. Notice the relaxed smiles of pleasure on both of their faces after the exchange. Notice the struggle on the walking boy’s face when he was deciding whether to give the other little boy his own candy.

Try giving something tangible or intangible. It can be helping a friend move a piece of furniture.  If you are a sales woman in a clothing store, it can be spending the time to really help a customer. Feel the pleasure an open generous heart gives. Tell me what happens. I love to hear the stories. Thanks in advance for sharing with me.

Boomers Are Special

Boomers Aren’t Old

Jim Shea in The Hartford Courant 4/11/2 made some interesting comments quoting experts at the The Aging in America Conference in Washington DC in March 2012. These experts noted that retired Boomers are doing anything but resting. Unlike like retirees of the past, they remain active. They are learning new things by going back to college, starting new careers and businesses, reviving old dreams and pursuing them. Some need to supplement their income, but that doesn’t change the desire to engage and discover a unique and valuable way to participate in life.  As a group, we are finding new and different ways to feel valuable and important.  Using what we already know as a base, we are picking a new direction and relishing the expansion. In this light, he mentioned author Gail Sheehy’s redefinition of aging based on this new Boomer behavior. She described baby boomers as the “Grand Tweens”. Those roughly between ages 55 and the early 70′s have their own category, no longer associated with being old. We are in between, not young but not old. If this isn’t beginning the redefinition of aging I don’ t know what it is.

The New Tweens

Then, I started to wonder about the aging process itself. It’s a relief to know that we can deal with the physical aspects of aging by appropriately  exercising. But how are we going to keep our dementia and loss of memory from overpowering our ambitions to thrive? I found this YouTube video that came out a few months before the boomers began to turn 65. Sixty-five is the perfect time to become clear about what is important and what to do about the biggest fear of all, losing our memories as we age. I think you’ll appreciate this video with Harry Smith too.

Great News

Since this video, more recent research has come out substantiating the video we just saw. Science has established that Alzheimer’s, does diminish from our increasing our brain activity. It seems deposits of amyloid protein in the brain earmarks Alzeheimer’s disease. Now, for the first time, scientists have agreed that activities like reading, writing and playing games are associated with lower amyloid protein levels. This NIA supported research is located in the Archives of Neurobiology and was published on 1/23/12.

So get out your puzzles and call up you friends and invite them to lunch! And while you are there tell them to download the free copy of my book about Choosing Your Future.

Midlife Stress Series Part 5

Find The Right People For Your Group

It is important to break the stress cycle that gains steam during a midlife transition. It’s necessary to find a new meaningful vantage point to look at your life. To succeed, you must be serious, curious and interested. Find at least one person to share your process with. The question is, who would be best to have as your partner or partners? Consider they would need to be special people. People who are non-judgmental, supportive, good listeners, and able to tell the truth. It will also be a great deal easier if they didn’t compete, make excuses, or cancel, unless there is an emergency. Everyone needs to be invested in the process of finding solutions to the questions your midlife group is pondering. Avoid getting stuck in any one of the questions below.

What to Talk About?

- What is missing from my old life now? You can take what’s missing and ask yourself, “Do I want this back again?”. For example, I was missing the enthusiasm and vision of a bigger purpose. I’d lost that sense of making a meaningful contribution. This is what I wanted for myself again. This is what I wanted in my new future. I had complaints like, “I am not reaching large enough groups of people. No one knows about what I do in my very private office.” As I shared these thoughts, my friend said, “You seem like you need to do something bigger ––  more involved with other people”. That helped me fill in the puzzle and add more depth to what I wanted. It made my vision clearer. See my Ebook for how to build a vision.

- Is there something you wish you had done by this time in life? What is it? Is it worth looking into now?

- What is important for you to do now with your life?

- What would be thrilling for you to accomplish at this point in your life?

- How can your life make a difference at this time? What excites you?

- What is trying to grow out of you? What is calling out to be heard?

- Is there something from the past that is incomplete and unfinished?

- Do you long to fulfill a dream you have avoided exploring?

These are all food for thought and exploration. Give yourself permission to not know where you’re going for a while. Remember without the unknown nothing new can arise. Without the house being taken down, a new one cannot come into existence. Be reborn into your own life. Let’s call it a Midlife Rebirth.

Rely on your chosen allies for some help. The group is a great place to ask these questions and anything else you come up with. Do you have any questions about starting a group? Tell me what you discover. One thing that’s fun is to give your group a name. Have some fun with it and let us know the name –– even if it’s kind of silly and especially if it’s really wild!

Midlife Stress Series Part Two

Another Way To Deal With Midlife Stress

Feeling Agitated

The stress of change scares most of us because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Hindsight is always 20/20. Midlife means stepping from one set of circumstances to another. A smaller home, children leaving, questions about retirement, money concerns, career and physical changes; to name a few. It’s even harder because, we don’t see things as they really are, we see things according to the way we are. If we are stressed and scared, so is our thinking.This is an extremely important distinction: we do not see things exactly the way they are. Our history, fears, and passions color our perceptions minute by minute.

Have you ever heard of the monkey mind? It refers to someone who is not in the present moment. The monkey mind is like the animal. The monkey jumps from tree to tree and we jump from thought to thought, with no inner quiet. Inner quiet gives us distance from our circumstances and emotions. This quiet provides room to think about our concerns. The question is, do you have the patience to wait until your chaotic mind settles down? If you are sick of being driven crazy by the terror that drives the monkey mind, you can start to give it up. All it takes is setting aside some time from your busy schedule.

A Different Way To See

Here’s how to begin: Go outside and walk, be in nature and follow these steps.

. Slow your walk. Slowing your pace as you walk through the world slows your energy. See what that feels like.

. Remember, if you are with other people, no talking.

. Really focus on the trees you see. Feel and hear the breeze as you watch it move the trees and grasses.

. If you prefer, you can walk feeling the ground under your feet. Feel it pressing against your heal as you connect your foot with the ground. Be aware of rolling forward onto the ball of your foot and the change of the pressure as it pushes off into another step.

. Do this for 20 minutes or longer before you stop and appreciate the beauty of nature. Look in wonder at the forces that created the world you are a part of. You can thank it for allowing you the peace you’re feeling in this moment. (BTW this also works if you are in a city. Just try to pick a quiet street.)

Let’s allow the monkey to fall asleep. Allow yourself to feel very small and humble, as you enjoy the world of nature and the peace that comes with it.

Having this available will bring you out of stress no matter what the weather. In fact it’s fun to take this walk in light rain. The world becomes a beautiful place, just for you, as you rest into it. There is no age here. This world is free of any story about what life is or isn’t. Notice you don’t have an age in this state. Being awake and present is the gift.

If you accept this gift and enjoy your experience, tweet about this blog post, and share it with your friends. Share this gift, so your friends and family can have it too.

Interview With Jackie Silver

Midlife Cafe Interviews Jackie Silver

Jackie Silver is a phenomenon! She is an expert in the field of staying young. Fortunately, she shares her secrets, tips and shortcuts in her book, Aging Backwards: Secrets to Staying Young; and on her Web site, http://AgingBackwards.com, on TV and radio, in print and in person. She is a frequent television news guest, one half of The Ageless Sisters radio show, a newspaper columnist and contributor to numerous web sites, including three columns on Examiner.com. She also appears in dozens of videos on Livestrong.com and eHow.com. Jackie is sought-after as an anti-aging and beauty expert by the media. Jackie’s insights are an inspiration to all of us. So let’s get started.

1. Midlife Cafe: Hi Jackie: You truly have a unique way of empowering women. How did you get started?

Jackie Silver: Hi and thank you so much for inviting me! It is such an honor to be here! How I got started empowering women is a loooong story, wink, but it was born from my desire to help anyone who is interested, join me in staying young and healthy. I’ve always been the one that my family, friends and their friends come to for advice, when it comes to health and staying young. I guess they all know that I like to stay on the “cutting edge” of what’s new and what’s available. I have also made friends with many of the world’s anti-aging “gurus,” scientists and doctors, so you get the fresh info first from me.

2. MC: Your story is very exciting. How can the average woman become more like you?

JS: Well, the good news is…I AM the average woman! It’s easier than people think to stay young and healthy. All it takes is incorporating a few good habits into your life (and possibly removing some not-so-good ones), but making it a point to do these every single day!

3. MC: What’s the first advice you would give a woman who is just starting to take care of herself?

JS: Everyone is in a different place – someone who is “just starting to take care of herself” might be in her 20s or in her 60s. No matter where you are, the most important thing to remember is you should do what works for you, what you can comfortably fit into your day and what resonates with you. If I were to “generalize,” I would have to say start a workout routine immediately, if you are not already exercising consistently. Did you know you could exercise just 12 minutes a day and get a great result? This works: Dr. Al Sears’ MD’s PACE Express program.

4. MC: Your transformation from age 12 is remarkable. How do you explain that?

JS: Ah, Age 12…Well, yes, I sometimes say I “invented” childhood obesity. I was very overweight at a time when most people – adults and children alike – were at the correct weight for their frames. Regarding my “transformation,” as you describe it, I spent my childhood yo-yo dieting, which is probably one of the worst things a child can do, but luckily I was able to take charge of my eating, exercising and my weight by the time I was in my 20s.

5. MC: You have great tips on everything from beauty and fitness to nutrition and makeup on your website. How do you find time to stay fit and do all this research?

JS: I am blessed with excellent organizational skills…okay, not really!  I am an avid “list maker.” If you saw all my lists, you might even think I suffer from Hypergraphia, but rest assured I don’t. Keeping lists not only keeps me organized and on-track, it also provides me with extra satisfaction when I can cross off the “done” items. Also, I am very disciplined when it comes to scheduling fitness. I don’t make “all the usual excuses,” such as: “I’m too tired,” “It’s too late,” “I’ll do it tomorrow,” “I worked out yesterday,” “I didn’t eat that much today…” the list goes on.

6. MC: At what age should a woman start following your advice?

JS: Well, interestingly, I don’t consider myself an “advice giver.” I am an imparter of information. I provide the information and the resources, conveniently, all in one place (AgingBackwards.com) and let people decide for themselves what fits into their lives. That’s one of the secrets to Aging Backwards. Stress causes aging and illness. Eliminate as much stress from your life as you possible can and you will be much better off. If your routine for staying young stresses you out, it cancels itself out. Here’s a little tip to help: Next time you find yourself worrying and stressing about something, tell yourself over and over, “90 percent of everything I worry about NEVER happens.” You’d be surprised at how that little affirmation can go a long way toward making you feel better.

7. MC: Can you be too old to start “aging backwards”?

JS: You’re never too old to start aging backwards! I even like to say you’re never too young either! I started working out consistently and deliberately at age 17 and I have never stopped for more than six weeks (to have a baby, wink).

8. MC: If a woman is over 65, where is the best place to start?

JS: The best place to start at any age, is to visit the Web site AgingBackwards.com and sign up for my free newsletter. The great news is you don’t get just me – you get a whole panel of experts in your inbox, including Dr. Al Sears, M.D. (anti-aging guru).

Thanks again for inviting me!!

This has been great Jackie! Your website and Twitter posts are fun and easy to follow. In fact, you are amazing. Thank you for devoting your time to helping us feel and look younger!

 

 

Midlife Opening

Opening To A New Life

In a previous post. My friend, Ellen, saw where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. She made an internal shift, that was reflected in her behavior and decision to open a knitting store.  She was aware of that light going on, but not everyone feels that. The shift can be subtle.

In contrast, our friend Mel, got up one morning and started experimenting with how to make a new unique coffee cake. His hobby was always to shop and make the family meals. The difference was that now, he was drawn, pulled, to experiment. He was never conscious of any internal process. When he finished the coffee cake four hours later, he was excited and motivated. He was so energized that he dove into the computer, to discover where and when he could start cooking school. Only then, was he was able to recognize the power of this new force. There is, in fact, always an internal shift, or we wouldn’t change our behavior at all. Without that shift, there would be no motivation to change or create. However you experience it, it’s like Ellen’s light being turned on. There is a new inner sense of readiness, a new awareness.

In my process of self discovery, I looked at my past, and wondered what  I would genuinely enjoy and feel excited about. One old interest I remembered, was to make jewelry out of antique beads. I had enjoyed doing that in high school. As luck would have it, my husband introduced me to a lovely women who made jewelry for a living. She was generous enough to teach me a lot about fasteners, stones and the styles of manipulating materials to create new masterpieces. We spent whole afternoons at her house creating necklaces, earrings and bracelets. She even took me to a high-end store that was displaying our creations.  When this teacher choose two of my pieces to sell, I knew I had made a big step. I couldn’t believe it. I  was excited, almost tipsy, from her recognition of my work.

When the success wore off, my teacher informed me it was time to pick up the pace. I had to move faster to build a supply of merchandise. I felt cramped and awkward. I froze inside. It was as if my creativity had died.  I didn’t want to work at her house anymore. I felt guilty because she had taken so much time with me.  I felt inadequate. I watched her generate one lovely piece of jewelry after another and felt worse. She was always stimulated and motivated. She liked what she created. It was clear to me, she was driven to do the work and I was not. I just didn’t have the fire and drive to do it as a job.  I didn’t have the interest to keep working to gain creative confidence. What stumped me, was that I usually jump into a challenge. I get excited by the difficulty. Yet, I didn’t want to work this problem out. I knew this wasn’t it.  Back to the empty stage for me.

It Takes Patience

Thinking about it, I discovered my mistake. I had made finding something to do, too important. I was really uncomfortable not having a direction. Being a truly goal-directed person was limiting here. To make this shift from one way of engaging with life to another, I had to be at ease with not knowing what I wanted, or where I wanted to go. It was hugely uncomfortable for me. Yet, I learned I need to be fulfilled, empowered and stimulated, but not addicted and needy about having a new direction for my life. I guess that process was worth it, because now I can share it with you. Be patient with yourself. It may take some time, but it’s worth it.

What’s your experience? Have you ever felt like you had to find a new direction, only to discover a dead end?

Make A Difference After 50

What’s Next?

A friend of mine complained she was losing her job after 20 years at a large corporation.  She had money but nothing to do with her time left on earth. At 50, she was essentially forced to figure out what to do. Though it is always possible to be without your job, this dilemma opens up a desire or need to recreate what it means for you to be in this life. What are you going to do now?

I ran across this video hosted by Jane Pauley on a program called Your Life Calling on The AARP website. In it Libba and Gifford Pinchot spent their entire retirement savings to reinvent their lives. They decided at 58 to take the experience they had developed in business and combine it with their desire to make a difference in the world. Watch the video on this page link to see what they came up with.

You know you can make a difference after 50 too. The only question is WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?