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Boomers, Escape From Your Bubble!

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As a Boomer: I’m a relatively late career-changer: I was a vice president at a major multi-billion dollar corporation, and my last assignment took me to Paris to live and work.  When I returned to my U.S.-based corporate job, after the successful launch of a major technology-related alliance, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted a change–to something that would provide autonomy, independence and creativity in my work.  It was my choice to leave the corporate world, but the same strategies can be employed by those for whom it is not a choice.  My story can provide some insights and practical lessons, tools, strategies–toward moving from a corporate career into an entrepreneurial venture, as a pioneer.  Downsized?  Upsize yourself to a better career!  After negotiating my exit it took me over a year to discover the newly-emergent profession of coaching, but when I did I knew it was exactly what I wanted.  This is the best job (or jobs) I ever had.

How do you find the perfect new career?  It’s different from just looking for a job (which you can certainly do–you might get lucky).

Here are some things we can do (and many are already doing)

1.   Refuse to decline.

We can pay significant attention to the health of the brain–in addition to supporting a healthy body. The Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas presents an annual lecture series on brain health.  In the 2010 meetings Dr. Sandi Chapman, founder and chief director of the Center, expanded on the research indicating that the brain is the most modifiable organ of the human body, allowing people to “improve mental function by exercising their brains.”   Researchers at the Center developed T.I.P.S. that advance brain fitness:
T—Take a BrainHealth Physical.  This is a mental stress test that measures strategic attention, reasoning skills, and innovative thinking, all abilities that should remain robust as people age.
I — Ignite Insights, Invention and Innovation. Choose to create mental idle time for discovery, deeper thought and problem solving.  Resist temptations to multitask.
P — Practice Your Passion. Go after cognitive challenges you love, with gusto. (see notes in #9 on “zest”)
S — Strengthen the Frontal Lobe. The brain’s frontal lobe is paramount to productive  mental robustness and allows successful navigation through the decision-making and problem-solving requirements of life.

Boomers may be the first generation to significantly challenge the assumption of inevitable mental decline in later years.  The notion of traditional retirement was challenged in an article in the New York Times on March 19, 2010, “Ready for Life’s Encore Performances.” Sarah Kershaw pointed out, “The idea that many workers reaching their mid and late 60s think they are too young to retire and, particularly in the wake of the recession, may have no choice but to keep working, is not particularly new. But with growing evidence of a demographic wrench being thrown into the classic arc of the life course– essentially a bonus decade or three added to the average life span over the last century–researchers are now exploring an entirely new developmental stage for people roughly between the ages of 55 and 75.”

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