Category Archives: Endless Careers

Ten Ways to Transition into Paid Work Instead of Retirement

2014-10-04 15.37.08Yesterday outside Publix, I ran into an old friend. We talked, caught up and then he asked about my work.

“I’m helping people uncover possibilities for being productive in work until they want to retire at 85!”

He smiled. Gene is in his mid-sixties and lost his administrative job for a successful land developer when the economy sunk the business several years ago.

“Barbara,” he said, “I’m pretty much wasting away in front of the TV and doing social stuff. I would give anything short of bagging groceries to have work for 2-3 days a week.”

Gene isn’t depressed or unhappy with his life. But he could be happier if he were involved in work that utilized his talents.

If you are unemployed, already retired or looking ahead, the journey to discover work you want to do can confuse and overwhelm even the smartest, creative and most successful individual.

We are in the midst of a cultural shift – creating new paths for work and careers in this age of longevity – where many of us will have an addition 25-30 years of potential productive living ahead.

The good news is the world of work is opening up many possibilities for a late-in-life work-groove that fits the lifestyle you want to create.

This post is for you, Gene. (more…)

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management | Leave a comment

Starry, Starry ‘Life’ – Inspire Your Reinvention with a Transition Story (6 Tips and 9 Ideas)

I dream my painting, and I paint my dream. - Van Gogh
I dream my painting, and I paint my dream. – Van Gogh

What’s the dream for your life ahead? How hard are you pushing yourself to get it?

The Rijksmuseum is TripAdvisor’s #1 rated ‘Things to do” in Amsterdam. But not for me. On my visit last month I wanted none of those dark Dutch paintings.

I wanted Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night.” Turns out “The Starry Night” is in New York and part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Permanent Collection since 1941.

Never mind. The  Van Gogh Museum is spectacular without it.

Spectacular? Yep. With three floors of 850 paintings, 1300 works on paper, and insights from his correspondence (940 letters), you come to know Van Gogh – the person, the artist, his heartaches and determination.

There’s Van Gogh the junior clerk at an art firm, the teacher, the bookseller and the preacher. All this before he decided to become an artist at the age of 27. Self-taught, unmarried, childless and supported (and loved) by his brother, Theo. The public did not know of Van Gogh until after his death at 37; he sold one painting during his lifetime.

The Van Gogh Museum experience was a highlight of my time in Holland and later that afternoon I recalled another museum two years ago with floor after floor of colorful works of art.

The Museu Picasso de Barcelona houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso whose life circumstances are the flip side of Van Gogh’s.

Picasso started to paint when he was eight, finished his first painting at nine (the year Van Gogh died) and at 13 he entered Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts, where his father taught. Picasso was an established artist at 20. Fame, fortune, numerous love affairs, three children – Picasso led the “good life.” He died at 91.

Each of these artists influenced future art and over 100 years later their works sell for millions.

In May 2015, Van Gogh’s “L’allée Des Alyscamps” was the big seller at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art auction bringing $66.3 million – when it expected to sell for 40 million.
In May 2015, Van Gogh’s “L’allée Des Alyscamps” was the big seller at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art auction bringing $66.3 million – when it expected to sell for 40 million.
Days later Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers set the record for the highest price ever paid for a painting when it sold for US$179.3 million at Christie's in New York.
Days later Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers set the record for the highest price ever paid for a painting when it sold for US$179.3 million at Christie’s in New York.

What does this have to do with you?

These twentieth century artists have two things in common:

  • Extraordinary productivity especially toward the end of their lives
  • A fire in their internal soul to continue their work – forever.

Neither of these artists allowed their flame for their work to be extinguished. You and I must discover and foster how this might be possible in our own lives.

How’s your flame doing?

When I was studying interior architecture, and playing around with glass because I really liked glass. There was one night when I blew a bubble and put a pipe into this glass I had melted and blew a bubble. From that moment, I wanted to be a glassblower. - Dale Chihuly Read more a
When I was studying interior architecture, and playing around with glass because I really liked glass. There was one night when I blew a bubble and put a pipe into this glass I had melted and blew a bubble. From that moment, I wanted to be a glassblower.
– Dale Chihuly

Off to Work We Go

It would have been understandable for Van Gogh to allow hardships which included anxiety, poverty and mental instability to dim his passion. Picasso didn’t need the money or much more fame. He could have stopped midlife.

Yet, in the last years of their lives they continued to pour energy into their work with remarkable results.

  • In his final years, Picasso had a tremendous last burst of productivity painting with the phenomenal speed he had had as a teenager in Barcelona.
  • Van Gogh painted 70 works in the last two months of his life.

People with high Career Wellbeing – doing meaningful work – are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. (If you want to understand the research and documentation for choosing work, see Why You Must Dare, Dream and Work – Forever.)

We must ask:

How can we keep our flame for work and life from diminishing?

Do you feel your flame for putting your talents and skills to use in new ways?

Can you imagine doing your ‘work’ until the very last day of your life? (more…)

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Self-Management | Leave a comment

Reinventing Yourself? Why You Need a Transition Story.

  amsterdam 242  amsterdam 195

The inside window ledges of the homes in Northern Holland tell stories.

During my ten-day visit I saw handsome turquoise pottery, painted pitchers, tall vases with flowers, ceramic birds and farm animals, wooden ships, and tin angels displayed in the windows.

In villages on the Frisian Islands, homes with large front windows edge the sidewalks. As I pause to look closely at what’s on a window ledge, I need only lift my gaze for a look straight through three rooms. Beyond the sofa area, a wood dining table with chairs and a small kitchen in the back complete the first floor.

Often I saw all the way through the back window into a yard with a garden or a clothesline full of floating clothes.

Curious as I was, I didn’t want to gawk. I kept my glances brief. Several times I surveyed the insides of these homes and missed noticing the people in the front room. They were more cordial than you or I might be to a stranger staring in their front window.

The father reading a story to a child on the sofa raised his head, met my eyes and smiled. The woman knitting in her corner chair gave me a pleasing nod.

Day after day I learned about people in places pronounced confidently and with staccato –Enkhuizen, Hoogkarspel, Oosterblokker, Wervershoof. They like order, tidiness, and enjoy a muted palette. They love flowers with large colorful blooms, Hollyhocks and Hydrangeas.

The Dutch are very polite. Because bikes are a primary means of transportation, bike paths meld into walkways and roads differentiated only by the color of the bricks. Many, many times a bike rider’s melodic, gentle bike bell advised me I was not on a foot path as I thought, but in the middle of the bike path.

amsterdam 030

In villages everywhere I looked on window ledges, peered in homes, observed the young and old ride bikes, kite surf, maneuver boats and ships, and walk their dogs. I wondered about these people and their lives – who they were, their hopes, their dreams.

What were their stories? How did the things on the window ledges connect to them?

My window sills are bare and yours may be too. Still, we have stories. Everyone has stories.

Life is a narrative of stories. Unique stories, linked over time.

In our lives there are places where a story is about to stop before a new one has begun. That can be a confusing time.

When it’s time for a change in life – as a turning point begins and the future is unclear-that’s when you need a story the most.

Transitions without a story are hell to navigate. (more…)

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Self-Management | Leave a comment

Expand That Career Arc! The Wonderful Work of Odyssey.

2014-02-01 15.05.52-2Welcome back to Part 4/5 on crafting a remarkable Post50 Life. We explored Geography of Place and Freedom. Today, it’s about being productive in our longevity. We move on to Career Arc Extension, the third of the Four Elements of Post50 Lifestyle.

The purpose of a Post50 odyssey is to discover what the next stage of our life will hold – to find out what’s ahead. The journey is a series of experiences that gives us knowledge and understanding.

At the threshold of finding ‘future work’ for the last third of life, expect to feel dizzy.

  • Should I continue my current profession? (Career success or ‘loving our work’ often makes this seem a good idea when it’s not.)
  • Should I begin to learn skills for a different  industry?
  • Do I have time to build a new career?
  • Why not be content with past career success and become a volunteer?

With longevity available, most of us are set to do some kind of ‘work’ through our 70s and 80s.

Spike Lee said, “As an artist you have to want longevity because longevity allows you to do your work.”

To label myself an ‘artist’ always seemed inappropriate and far-fetched. Maybe you’ve felt this way.

I don’t paint or sculpt. I don’t ballet or write songs. Actually I require professional help just choosing fabric for throw pillows.

But as I ended my transition, I changed my mind. I am an artist.

No higher artistic expression exists than creating a life.

I own my first fifty years and dare myself to crave more and more from my time left. I marvel at my stops and starts, successes and failures, good fortune and bad luck. I am an illustrator and designer who collects stories of my past merging them into a collage of pictures of a future – my future.

I create a life – mine.

It’s the same for all of us. The craft and design of your Post50 life – where a new working identity is vital – is your ‘art.’

Marvelous and a bit heady, isn’t it, to be an artist? We could do wild things with our lives.

Let’s temper that for now.

A carefree focus on ‘art’ can impoverish future wellbeing. And in my mind, the phrase ‘starving artist’ has no charm. (more…)

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Reconstuct Retirement | Leave a comment

Midlife Plan: Start Over with Four Elements of Post50 Lifestyle

Gate sign in Lakes District of England.
Gate sign in Lakes District of England.

After two decades of childhood and three of decades of adulthood you’d think we’d have it all figured out. We’ve adjusted, re-adjusted, modified, adapted and tweaked ourselves from infancy to adolescence through young adulthood past the age of innocence only to smack right into midlife.

Managing life transitions? We got it down.

Unfortunately that kind of confidence and bravado can get you into trouble.

Ahead lies a transition never before awarded a generation or attempted. With a bonus of thirty plus years of living after the age of 65, we are privileged to create a new life cycle.

But crafting a new stage of life is not as easy as slipping into one that’s been around.

What is for certain is that advancing toward us in midlife is one of those delicious ‘defining moments’ – one we can choose to use or not to use.

Ted talker, Meg Joy, a clinical psychologist, insists for her twenty-something audience that 80% of life’s defining moments happen before 35. This is ridiculous.

Have you had a happening or two since your mid-thirties that got you where you are now? Any big damn event helped shape you in your 40s or 50s? (Marriage? A baby? Divorce? Love? Heartbreak? Lottery? Career setback? Dad died?)

No one decade defines us.

With high expectations and time not on our side, we should aim to make this upcoming demarcation – from mid-life to late adulthood- one of unparalleled significance.

Other defining moments of your life slipped up on you to catch you unaware or unprepared. Still, you made it through with time enough to savor or recover.

This one’s different.

You will either use this one to create the life you want to live until it’s over – literally game over.

Or you’ll ignore it. And, likely wish you hadn’t. (more…)

Posted in Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Reconstuct Retirement | 2 Comments

Set the Stage for Your Endless Career: The First Four Steps

California Chrome
California Chrome

Art Sherman talks with his hands as if holding the reins, a distinctive trait left over from his first career as a jockey.

Riding for over 21 years he rode his share of winners, but rarely the big horses in the big races. He’d occasionally supplement his income playing “race-horse rummy,” a card game that was popular in the jockey’s room between races, for 25 cents a point.

Fifty-five years later Art Sherman was in the winner’s circle, as the trainer for California Chrome at this year’s Kentucky Derby, hallowed ground for equine greatness.

California Chrome won by 1 ¾ lengths fostering hysteria for The Preakness Stakes, the second race for the Triple Crown. On another gorgeous Saturday afternoon last weekend, Sherman’s horse won again in a magnificent race.

Kentuckians, far removed in time and space like me, watch the Derby the first Saturday in May without exception. Sure we choke up as we sing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ because at that moment memories flood our hearts, but when a horse like this comes along we can turn giddy.

California Chrome now has a shot at Triple Crown greatness, but you have no soul if you don’t root for Art Sherman too. His story is an advanced class on finding what you love to do and day-after-day-after-day turning it into an endless career.

This unassuming man is the oldest trainer to have won the Derby. “I never made it with the big, big horses…but I’m thankful for my career,” Art said. (more…)

Posted in Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Reconstuct Retirement | Leave a comment

Three Things We Can Learn from Bruce Dern’s Endless Career


2014-01-29 15.15.10I’ve had several moments in life when an unknown person exuded an invisible energy to say, “Hello there. You know me. I’m famous.”

It’s happened to you too.

An individual’s simple air of distinction – no pomp or pretentiousness, no ego involved, always unassuming – lights a fire under our intuition. We’re not obsessed with finding out who they are, but the circumstance gets a grip on us.

Here’s me over thirty years ago remembering every detail of this kind of meet-up:

After landing at a small dusty, open air rectangle of an airport in Loreto, Mexico, one person in the mostly empty place catches my eye.  

He leans against one of the support beams of the thatched roof with his right knee bent and the back of his boot planted firmly on the rounded wood. He surveys an airless, outside panorama; he’s a do-not-disturb dude.

This spare man in a worn cowboy hat removes his sunglasses, wipes his sweaty brow with the back of his hand and replaces the glasses. He’s not shaved in a while.

I scrunch up my forehead. “Geez, he seems familiar.” 

Meanwhile, my fifteen-year-old daughter in a wide brimmed straw hat, socks with Tevas and  dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt under scrubs heads my way. This outfit reflects her theme for the upcoming two week family sail in the Sea of Cortez – “no sun will touch my body.”  

She asks quietly, “Mom, why are you staring at that guy?”

“Because he is somebody and I don’t know who.” Finally, the neurons fire.

“You know, I think that’s Bruce Dern.”

“Whatever,” says the superbly executed teenage shrug of the clueless.

My discovery was meant to be a whisper but was not. Upon hearing his name the actor looked my way and tipped his hat.

I manage a small beauty contestant wave.

Ever since, Bruce Dern, the perfect picture lonesome cowboy, has been a favorite of mine.

 Career Without High Notes

Not to go all Hollywood on you (a recent post was about Matthew McConnaughey), but retrospective pieces investigating the ups, downs, luck and sustainability of the 2014 Oscar nominees mirror individuals – like you and me, except for the fame – who work hard at their craft, endure lows and at times struggle to find a vision for the future.

While Bruce Dern’s career is stronger than ever, his look back is full of accolades that forever eluded him. Not winning top roles makes for career angst. (more…)

Posted in Endless Careers, Self-Management | 1 Comment

Five Lessons with a Punk Rock Spirit for Mid-Lifers

Vivienne Westwood, spirit of Punk Rock fashion.
Vivienne Westwood, spirit of Punk Rock fashion.

Wild, wild Westwood is her name and not just because of her orange hair.

In London in the 70s, this former primary school teacher and now keen gardener was the guiding spirit of punk image. As a designer and seamstress, Westwood caused a fashion rebellion of Brit fabric, safety pins and bondage – all familiar now but outrageous then.

Punk Rock, a counter culture with the greatest influence on fashion, was born to be incendiary and designed to provoke a rebel yell. An exhibit in the NY Metropolitan this summer honors the movement. Punk rocker (more…)

Posted in Endless Careers, Self-Management | Tagged | 1 Comment