5 tips for those 50-plus that want to look for what’s next in their life

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What's your next step?

-By Diana Pierce-

Last month I talked with a woman, whom I ‘ll call “Sue,” while attending a women’s leadership conference. She pulled me aside when everyone started to leave. As tears started to form in her eyes, Sue asked me, “How did you do it?” I could hear the panic in her voice. She shared she had been with her company for many years and when the recession of 2008-2009 hit, she kept her job at a price. It was more work, picking up the jobs of those who left or were laid off. She also was given a new manager’s title with no additional support or raises. In recent years, Sue told me she had been sliding backwards in both job and salary. At 50-something, she said she was fearful of what was next for her. What she wanted to know was how I had gone from being a 30-year news anchor to my starting, “What’s Next? with Diana Pierce.” The short answer was overcoming my own personal doubts of starting a business at this time in my life, more education, and reaching out to those who have supported me in the past. However, Sue is not alone. I’m seeing more articles on what many Boomers are facing- the end of one career, and in many cases a career came to an abrupt end, and the panic of having to find a new one. Most Boomers I talk with (note: I’m one) feel they are too young to retire, but too old to start over. It’s also a topic that adds to our already sleepless nights. Everyone will find what works for them. However, the following steps are what I’ve found valuable for me.

Here are my 5 quick tips to what’s next in your life:

  1. Listen to your inner voice– That voice in your head might be the best expert advice you get. What is your passion? Depending on how risk adverse you are, either take baby steps or big leaps toward that something you’ve always wanted to do or have been waiting to do. A women business owner I talked to recently in St. Cloud, Minnesota told me she had always wanted to get some additional education. The University of Minnesota, for example, has the Senior Citizen Education Program. There are some prerequisites but if you are 62 or older, you can audit for free or for $10 per credit, register for classes that work towards a degree. Higher education rarely comes for free so this is a great opportunity.
  2. Network and feed that Network (sometimes literally)- Let people know you are available to meet with them. Offer to buy them lunch. They might know of job openings that aren’t posted yet. I recently had lunch with a friend who used to work in the TV biz and at one point worked at the station I worked for. She has a solid network of business colleagues across the country. She also credits her years of success (30+ years) to 5 mentors and one of her mentors recently pointed her towards her current position. So, who is in your network? Do you need to expand that network? Or do you need to reach out to those who have a career or volunteer opportunity in a new direction you’re thinking about? Network toward your future.
  3. Create your own personal idea sounding board- Create a personal group that will help you define your goals. Organize your board by: finding someone who will give you honest advice; finding someone who will ask you great questions; and finding someone who has been there before. Also, find a wise elder and find a wise “younger.” This group will help push you toward your next step, next job, or next career. Write these names down and when you get momentarily down or sidetracked, call them. They are the ones you most trust to help blast you out of the rut you’re stuck in.
  4. Recognize a need and fill it- Do you have a vision for a new widget that solves a problem or helps someone out? In Minneapolis, there are many who saw a need. Fran Heitzman, who is the founder of the non-profit, Bridging, saw a need for beds and bedding for those who had none. I once interviewed him on-air and Fran was so passionate about Bridging, I only got to ask one question in a three-minute interview. He couldn’t stop talking about the people Bridging was helping. Then, there is Mary Jo Copeland who created the nationally known, Sharing and Caring Hands. She is a powerhouse of compassion who daily feeds, clothes and even houses those who are struggling in our economy. She started by working out of her parish kitchen. Do you see a need? Does your widget fix something? Call or email entrepreneurs who can guide you to your next step. Most entrepreneurs love to explain how they got to where they are.
  5. Join a Professional Organization (if you haven’t already)– Recently, I’ve joined the National Women Association of Women Business Owners. I’ve already made connections with other owners about some ideas I have. The best thing is the advice of those who’ve walked this path before me.

Some of these steps might seem simple. However, when you are stuck or in panic mode, simple is better than complicated. These might be the steps that give you the push try again. In the end, pack your patience and give yourself lots of credit to try something new.


 “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

– Mary Anne Radmacher-

Let me know how you’re doing in your search for what’s next in your life. Send me your story at: [email protected]


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