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5 Keys to Flourishing in Your Second-Act Career

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25 Questions To Help YOU Identify Your Ideal Second Act. You'll also receive my free newsletter filled with second-act ideas, tools and inspiration.

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In his fascinating book, Flourish: A New Visionary Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being noted psychologist Martin Seligman identifies five keys to a rich, full and satisfying life:

1) Positive Emotion:  The first key, positive emotion, refers to what you feel: pleasure, rapture, comfort and the like.

2) Engagement: The second factor, engagement, is about flow or being “in the zone.” When you are fully engaged in what you’re doing, you experience a loss of self-consciousness .

3) Strong Relationships: The third factor, strong relationships, speaks to the value of having positive, supportive and nurturing relationships in your life.

(Aside from Nancy: In many ways, I think this is the single most under-appreciated element of second-act success. As I write in this post, The Secret Sauce When Choosing a Second-Act Career the people you work with —clients, colleagues, boss or vendors — are critically important to your second act satisfaction. Even when your work is mundane or demanding, you can feel as fulfilled as people with fun or inspiring jobs if you invest in work relationships that nourish you and create a sense of purpose).

4) Meaning: The fourth factor, meaning, refers to serving or belonging to something that you believe is bigger than the self.

5) A sense of accomplishment: Finally, accomplishment, or achievement is often pursued for its own sake, even when it brings us no positive emotion, no meaning and nothing in the way of positive relationships. We are wired to achieve, compete, grow and succeed.

Seligman’s book applies to people of all ages, not just those over 50. But as I read it, I couldn’t help but notice that the five factors integral to well-being —positive emotion, engagement, strong relationships, meaning, and accomplishment — are also the foundational pieces of a strong second-act career.

So, using the five factors as a decision-making framework, I thought it would be useful to pose a few questions for you to consider as you contemplate different second-act possibilities:

1. Positive Emotion. What are the work-related factors you need to be happiest in your next act (e.g. flexible working hours, a short commute, a sunny office, the chance to work with a dog by your side, etc.)?

2. Engagement. Think about the times you’ve been most fulfilled and energized at work: Which tasks/projects/accomplishments did you find most captivating and interesting? Which of these would you like to integrate into your next act?

3. Strong Relationships. Reflect on your past work experiences: Who are the people you most enjoyed working with? What characteristics or personality traits did they share in common?

4. Meaning. What experiences/projects/responsibilities brought you the greatest sense of meaning and impact at work? 

5. Sense of accomplishment. Which work-related accomplishments are you most proud of? When have you felt most valued at work?

Remember, even if you only work part-time, you’ll want to find opportunities that offer as many of these factors as possible. By getting clear on your drivers before you search, you will improve the odds of finding a truly satisfying match.

Get my Free Downloadable Workbook:

25 Questions To Help YOU Identify Your Ideal Second Act. You'll also receive my free newsletter filled with second-act ideas, tools and inspiration.

Get it Now!