I heard Jane Pauley speak last month at Milwaukee's "Smart Talk Event." Along with a group of co-workers, I received a complementary ticket from an event sponsor. Due to the weak economy, ticket sales are down for this year’s "Smart Talk Series" which was evident by the number of seats that remained empty.
Prior to the event, I read Tim Cuprisin’s column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where he introduces what Pauley calls “practical inspiration”:
It centers on a baby boom generation dealing with a longer life than preceding generations. To illustrate her point, she cites her Aunt Martha, who was forced to reinvent herself when she was widowed at 50, and worked 25 more years. Her aunt remained active until she was 90 and died at 94. She personifies what an awful lot of baby boomers are going to look forward to, and that is a long period of good health with frailty in old age and health issues compressed at the end of life. “I’m 58 years old, and the prospect of retiring now when I might have 20 or 30 healthy years ahead of me – one could get really bored.”
A little "practical inspiration" is exactly what I need right now. Even though I’m 15 – 20 years away from retirement, I feel as if I need to begin pursuing a change in my career now, but I have no idea how or where to begin. According to Pauley, "practical inspiration" is where ideas come from. Inspiration is everywhere, but you have to look for it. On change she says, “Going forward isn’t easy. Visualizing it is easy. Actualizing it is hard.” People handle change differently:
-Her friend Meg eagerly looks forward to what’s next.
-Ann, another friend, does not embrace change. She spends all of her time getting her ducks in a row. The point is not to get your ducks in a row. The point is to get your ducks in the water.
- Pauley describes herself as a butterfly, one who flits in an indirect path to a specific goal. All of her ducks are in the water she just doesn't know what to do with them.
I relate the most to Ann, who is afraid to step out of her comfort zone. To combat this fear, Pauley suggests instead of jumping into the water to take baby steps. This is practical advice for someone in my situation. I have a secure job, but everything about my career including my networking group feels stale. With more workers losing their job every day, it’s not exactly a good time to begin a job search or to even think about making a career change, but I can start by getting my ducks in a row. If I take one baby step each week, eventually I will be in the water.
After her speech, Jane was joined by Kathy Mykleby for a question-and-answer session. A follow-up point I found interesting is that Pauley’s 40's were not the best time of her life; her fifties are so much better. She says all over the world the 40's are the worst. Menopause and teenagers both of which appeared in her 40’s were not a good mix.
To date my 40’s (I am 46) have been sort of blah, I really like the idea of my 50’s being better. On the way home, I asked two of my co-workers, who are both in their 50’s, if Pauley’s statement rang true for them. It did not; both felt the quality of their life is worse in their fifties than it was in their 40’s. They based this on job satisfaction, financial well-being and their health. I think enjoying one particular decade over another is more dependent on career satisfaction, the quality of your relationships and your health rather than on your age. I have four more years 'til I’m fifty, I don't want to wait that long to have a more fulfilling life. Perhaps, I need a little "practical inspiration".
I know when its time to leave even if I don’t know where I’m going.
Jane Pauley - Skywriting