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Daring Second Acts


Garry planned to ride his motorcycle across the country from Ottawa to Seattle. But back then, a job offer, followed by marriage and the birth of his son, Jonathan, had forced him to put his plans on hold.

Now Garry has a new set of maps and has started planning again, as he counts down the months to retirement in spring 2007. His wife, Ann, will join him in Seattle. They plan to spend the summer visiting family scattered throughout BC. In September, Ann will return to her teaching position in downtown Ottawa. And Garry? He plans to continue working. Doing what? He’s still not sure.

Now, just in time, a book by husband and wife team Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners offers practical guidance for people like Garry who are asking themselves, what next?

“Forget about retiring,” the authors advise. “Rewire instead.”

How do people rewire?

By taking the energy they used to spend in their full-time work and rerouting it into a customized package of deeply satisfying activities, that fill their needs, not just their time.

Sadler and Miners have made a career out of helping people in their roles as executive recruiters. In Don’t Retire, Rewire! (ALPHA Books, Indianapolis, IN), the two researchers discuss a five-step process.

1. Know what makes you tick? Retirement is different for each person. Figuring out what you want to do depends on knowing what motivates you. What are the things that drive you today? Is it visibility, power, a paycheck? Maybe, it’s a passion, or the desire for new experiences? These are your “drivers.” The key is to focus on the drivers that are really you. To continue growing, to be fully alive- is as personal as a fingerprint.

2. Dreams. Think about all the things you have ever dreamed of doing. Write them down. What haven’t you done? If money were no object, what would you do? Still stumped? Think about your legacy. What values do you want to pass on to the next generation, to your grandchildren? Ask yourself what you want your life to stand for.

3. Interests. What is it about the world that fascinates you? Why? In what situations and with what people do you find yourself energized? Who are some of the people working in your area of interest who inspire you? What do you want to achieve with your interest?

Think back to your childhood. What activities captivated you for hours without the need of anyone else around? Are there some of these interests you would like to revisit?

4. Accomplishments. Think back over your life, what are you most proud of having accomplished? Jot down your accomplishments, big and small, professional and personal. Take a breather from reflecting. When you return, list your top 10 accomplishments. And beside each, jot down the strengths and skills you used to bring them about.

Now think about what you would you like to accomplish in your second act. Give yourself this as a homework assignment. Mull it over. Play with possibilities.

5. Strengths and skills. You have been living with your strengths and skills for a long time. Which of these strengths and skills have figured prominently in your accomplishments? Which ones remain underdeveloped? Which strengths and skills do you want to focus on in Act 2?

The search for a daring second act isn’t only about a rewired career, however. It’s also about your search for meaning.

As the authors note: “If you want to continue to have a fulfilled life, you need to find activities, paid or free, that keep expanding your life, so you stay true to yourself and your needs.”