From the Vintage Vault. This blog post was originally published on October 9, 2009. Comments were hot and heavy then. Ready to add yours to the conversation? I’d love for you to leave your insights and gems in the comment section below…
For women, the second half of life brings with it many career choices and questions. For some women, continuing in a current career doesn’t fulfill personal, spiritual or financial needs as it once did. For others, re-entering the workforce has become a necessity due to the changes in the economy.
In either case, a ReCareer may be the answer. What is a ReCareer? According to Dr. Richard P. Johnson, nationally renowned expert on maturing adult development and founder of ReCareer, Inc. it is: “Personally authentic work that feeds your mind, your heart, and your spirit.”
Women at midlife who are “seekers” want something deeper out of life. They want more personal purpose, more meaning, and want their efforts to align more closely with their core beliefs. They seek a more authentic way of living. To these women seekers, who may be 45, 55, 65 or older, age holds no meaning. What does hold meaning for them comes from work and interactions that renew their life purpose, revitalize their passion, reignite their soul, and reinvigorate their inner desires.
One of my closest friends is a seeker. She was courageous enough to listen to that persistent voice inside her that said she needed to take a new career path. For the past several years she has commuted back and forth between the home she shares with her husband in Pennsylvania and her apartment in New York City where she runs her own executive coaching business. She was in her mid 50s when she made this change.
Largely because of seekers like my friend, there has been a fundamental shift in how we perceive getting older. Previous assumptions about life’s second half are becoming passé as a new set of beliefs are giving birth to what it means to live optimally. Aging is no longer viewed as a forced march down a path of decline and constriction, a path that narrows the older we get. The path we’re on now is one of expansion, with an accent on gaining new wisdom, and discovering a new authenticity and significance greater than anything previously experienced.
Certainly the goals of working over our lifespan have changed. Our former jobs provided a financial foundation. They paid the mortgage, put the kids through school, and got us through the daily expenses of living. All of this was necessary, but for many reasons women are now searching for something more; something that gives rise to that still small voice within longing for achievement of a different type – something that feeds their very being.
There are relatively few, if any, clear cut directions for women in midlife who are seeking that blending of career and life passion, so how do they begin this ReCareer journey? The first thing is to commit to a personal assessment, a personal excavation of sorts. A ReCareer represents much more than a set of skills and functions, it’s a woman’s personal response to her inner call; it’s her investment in the mission of her life. A ReCareer determines much of a woman’s total environment: physical, social, mental, psychological, and even spiritual arenas of living.
There are 5 essential competencies that women need to tackle before they can successfully launch themselves into a ReCareer. This journey of discovery will bring them personal fulfillment as well as meet their individual needs, and put them solidly on the path to ReCareer success:
ReCareer Identity: is defined as the degree to which women derive a personal sense of identity and definition from their work. How much of their personal identity, their unique definition of self, comes from their career? In addition, it’s important to look at attitudes, beliefs, and feelings women hold about themselves and determine if they are still true or if they are self-limiting. It’s also important to construct a personal definition of their potential ReCareer (new career), and to assess each of their formerly held positions in terms of skills and functions performed, and any personal feelings generated by these positions.
ReCareer Self-Assessment: helps women identify their ReCareer values, interests and skills. Do they know their inner values, motivated skills, and most cherished interests well enough to accurately translate what’s truly best for them in their ReCareer process?
Transition Hardiness: The definition of “hardiness” is the ability to be adaptable and flexible – two qualities that are critical to successfully engaging in Recareer life change. Women need to determine if they have developed the necessary inner qualities of hardiness: commitment, control, challenge, and connectedness which will enable them to better achieve their ReCareer goals. By looking at past career and personal life experiences women can assess these qualities and work on those areas that may need shoring up.
ReCareer Success Perception: looks at women’s personal and career worlds and how well they can perceive the events in their career and personal life as self-enhancing and self-affirming. That’s done by uncovering and analyzing the successes women have achieved in their personal and career life to date. Success perception is the foundation of a positive self-esteem. Without a positive self-esteem, women are denying their innate power – the energy that calls them to their ReCareer Success. It’s important for women to define what “success” means to them, and to ask themselves if they have successfully clarified their unique formula for ReCareer success.
Setting ReCareer Goals and Making ReCareer Decisions: The purpose of this focus is to help women establish ReCareer and life goals that can assist them in pursuing a clear ReCareer direction. To do this, it’s important to look at all of the life arenas: work, family, relationships, self, leisure, and spiritual to assess how well women exercise solid decision-making skills and what areas they need to address in order to formulate the most compelling ReCareer goals and bring these into reality.