Non-Events: When Life Doesn’t Turn Out As You Planned

In conversations about reinvention and starting businesses at midlife, my clients often describe difficult experiences in earlier years which continue to bother them, in some cases still trouble them greatly.

These trying experiences usually involved significant life events like pregnancies & children, education & college, jobs and promotions, geographical moves or other life opportunities.

The problem is, these ‘events’ never took place.

They were life experiences people wanted. But they didn’t actually happen.

A pregnancy that didn’t begin because she wasn’t able to conceive a child.

A highly desired college experience that didn’t happen because he didn’t actually get the scholarship he needed from his preferred alma mater.

A greatly anticipated job promotion that never occurred…so the pay raise that should have allowed her dream house to be purchased, and the social status and perks that would have come with the job, didn’t happen either.

These circumstances or major disappointments are called Non-Events.

And ‘non-events’ can be – and often are – as significant as the life events we actually do experience.

They shape us, mold us. Cause us to question ourselves, to wonder what we did ‘wrong’ to not get what we expected. To ask “why” or “why not?”. Or “why me?” or perhaps, “why not me?”

Non-events often have a significant impact on our lives because they can turn us in a new direction, forcing us to select a different path than we expected to walk: propelling us down unexpected roads that may influence the rest of our journey, the rest of our lives.

Of course, non-events can prompt us to make new and different choices that we may later feel were even better for us than what we had originally hoped for.

But they can also detour us for years from our original path, or even make an irrevocable mark on us that some of us refer to as ‘scarring us for life.’

explore your life non-events in a written journalYou may want to get a pen and paper at this point, and capture some of your thoughts and responses to the questions asked below.

1. What ‘non events’ have you experienced during your life so far? When?

How have these events that have not happened affected you and the choices you made, once it became clear to you the ‘non-event’ you hoped for or expected was no longer available as an option?

• Did you get depressed? Get stuck and take no action?

• Did you get angry and find yourself marching off quickly in a different direction, just to get yourself going – or to keep going?

• Did you accept your second choice or alternate option, and pursue it with the same enthusiasm, ambition or drive that you would have had if your preferred goal or direction had been available to you? [Read more…]

Why Baby Boomers Want to Continue Working

Working or returning to work could feel good to you for quite a variety of reasons, if only because it’s hard to wake up in the morning and have no place to go.

And if that’s how you feel, you’re certainly not alone. As of 2012, the older edge of the Baby Boomers to reach retirement age first – those born in 1946 and slightly after – are retiring at an average age of 71. This age is up significantly from just the previous year (2011) when the average retirement age was 69, as well as 2008 when the average age was 68.

In fact the most recent studies indicate that more than 9 in 10 working middle-income baby boomers expect to be working past the conventional retirement age of 65, according to Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement.

Why does Working Matter to Us?

The World of Work provides for many of our most basic needs, far beyond the fact that it sustains us financially or has provided the dollar input collected through the years for the Social Security payments we will someday receive.

Work gives us something to do, which is sometimes simply about passing time but more often about making a difference for others as well as ourselves. Most of us have a very strong emotional connection to working because it satisfies our needs for social connection along with contributing to our strong self worth. [Read more…]

Bouncing Back: Developing Your Resilience after Age 50

We all know people who somehow seem to cope better with change than others.

Some appear to handle all demanding situations with the same self confidence, emerging on the other side of change with an even better circumstance than before. Others give the impression of being quite calm as they tackle one particular change, while freezing up or falling apart when facing other types of changes.

Let’s look at a change most of us have had some experience with: Changing Jobs.

Changing Jobs: Termination vs Choice

Have you noticed that it takes longer for someone who has been fired from a job to cope and move forward with their life, than someone who determines on their own they are unhappy with their current job and then takes action to find a new one?

Over 50 employee needs to be resilient

It’s more difficult to be resilient when a pink slip come as a shock to you.

The terminated employee has to deal with the surprise, shock, grief, and anger about a change he or she didn’t see coming. They must completely re-build their life, while also researching job options, applying for available positions, and paying the bills – knowing that regular income will stop in the not too distant future.

They may have to wrestle privately with difficult truths about themselves, their skills and/or their relationships with others, as they struggle to come to terms with why they were fired. They might have to consider the stress of relocation in order to take a new job, loss of equity in their home if they sell too quickly, or other not-so-nice specific outcomes that must be weighed, pro and con.

For this individual, change is imposed upon him or her, forcing a reaction geared more toward survival than what they’d most like or prefer.

On the other hand, the employee engaged in choosing a new job on their own time, at their own speed, still has to adapt to many changes but usually perceives those changes as positive and for one’s own good. They begin researching job options, alternative employers and perhaps different cities they find attractive. They invest considerable energy rejuvenating their network, and start actively seeking out new opportunities. The typical timeframe for a voluntary change of job is 6-18 months.

resilient employee over age 50 networking to find new jobThe employee choosing to change jobs receives support from their friends and co-workers until their last day of work, often enjoying celebratory lunches and get-togethers for everyone to say goodbye and exchange contact information. The individual who loses their job suddenly may be required to leave their employer’s work site the very day they receive notice, before they can even speak to their co-workers or exchange home phone numbers.

Anticipating change, having sufficient time to plan how you will cope, and building support for yourself, are key steps in bouncing back from difficult situations.

These are all aspects of an important muscle to build during your over age 50 life: Resilience. [Read more…]

Continuing to Work Through Your ‘Retirement’ Years

Baby Boomers. Our Second Act. The Third Age. Senior Citizens.

We so-called Baby Boomers (born from 1946-1965) make up over 70 million of the US population. Yet for the most part, society doesn’t really know what to call us.

Is it any surprise we are a little bewildered ourselves?

Historically, people have always approached their retirement years with anxiety and measured excitement, and both feelings are understandable. The financial safety net provided by Social Security plus supplemental investments for some has certainly allowed Americans to plan for a more relaxed and enjoyable later life, although what it will really be like as a lifestyle is an unknown until we experience it firsthand.

The models of retirement viewed from afar by Boomers, as lived by our parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc followed a conventional pattern. Long term employment with a limited number of companies was followed by a celebration of ‘the end of work’, and then movement into a routine existence filled with travel, visiting family, volunteering, and relaxing into a less active life.

Today, however, retirement doesn’t look much like it did for our grandparents. In fact, Age and Retirement are being completely redefined.

What does this mean for us?
retired couple relaxing on porch

Retirement these days looks different for most of us. We may still get to enjoy the rocking chairs, but probably later than we planned.

A new paradigm is emerging whereby life after age 50 and our traditional employment years, requires as much thought, preparation, and planning as the previously linear model we were brought up to expect: education-followed-by-job-family-career, then a happy, secure ‘retirement.’

[Read more…]