I’ve often said that there is much to be learned about the career reinvention process from nature. I was reminded of this phenomena yet again this summer, courtesy of a rogue pumpkin plant growing in our backyard.
As you can see in the photo below, the plant is a force of nature. From the time it first sprouted in July, this vine has grown like a wildfire: anchoring its roots into the ground, climbing up the deck and winding its tendrils around anything in its path.
I recently heard from a reader who wrote to tell me how much he enjoyed reading Second-Act Careers (made my day)! Thanks to the book, he had clearly identified his interests, strengths, motivations, etc., and is now into the next phase of selecting options and evaluating them for fit. He closed his note with this request:
“I‘m curious if you have any suggestions to help ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’ when considering one’s list of options?”
It’s a smart question. After all, lots of ideas sound great, but may not hold your interest over the long haul. Knowing that he can’t possibly be the only one wondering about this, I thought it best to share my response with all of you here.
So with thanks to my reader, here are 5 key steps to take when evaluating options for “fit”:
You know those bogus headlines that scream, “All you need to succeed in life is 5 minutes a day!!” or “Lose 10 pounds in just 3 weeks – GUARANTEED!!”
Well I promise you this isn’t one of those. Because what I am about to suggest really does take three seconds and it really could create more luck in your life.
So I hope you’ll stick with me to the end. I’ll share the “fix” in a few, but first a story (and a bit of a rant) about why I’m writing this.
When I speak about second acts, I often ask people what they might like to do after leaving their full-time jobs. Inevitably, I get a variety of responses:
I’d like to paint
I’d like to be a photographer
I’d like to write a book
I’d like to do something with baking.
It’s always fun to hear about people’s plans and dreams. But what I really love is when people tell me how they actually turned their dreams into reality:
I sold my first painting
I photographed a wedding
I self-published my memoirs
I’m selling my key lime pies at our local farmer’s market
It’s always exciting to see their dreams take flight. Of course, the gap between dreaming and doing is a big one. And when you’re just starting the transition into retirement, that leap can feel insurmountable.
Given my profession, it should come as no surprise that my husband and I spend a lot of time discussing our plans for retirement. Poor guy just can’t escape my constant fascination with this topic!
So recently, while enjoying a long, leisurely drive through the countryside, we once again chatted about his second act. Over the years, I’ve asked him all the obvious questions: What do you think you might like to do? What do you see as your strongest skills? Which of your hobbies might serve as the basis of a business?
But his time around I asked just one simple question: