Forget Economic Meltdown. The Far More Important Worry: “Is Your Life What You Hoped It Would Be?” Why Haven’t You Added “Recareering” to the Top of Your Dance Card?
You’ve probably received your share of those sappy email forwards people pass around to remind themselves that we still care about each other. I just got one that ended with a comment worthy of sharing with you:
‘Life may not be the party we hoped for… but while we are here we might as well dance!’
Hmmm. A Bit of Upbeat Advice to Live Life with Passion Amidst All the Teeth-gnashing Financial Angst in My Mailbox Lately.
It Immediately Reminds Me Of Another Great Dance Aphorism: “Dance with the one what brung ya,” …
Combined, the two concepts offer great advice. Especially in these challenging times where you’re probably worried about the potential of economic meltdown.
Not sure how the old Southern cliche and the new “dancing/live life with passion” philosophy apply you at this point in your life? Here’s a story to illustrate it for you:
My friend Bob is frustrated with his current employment situation as a pressman for a major newspaper organization, and rightfully worried that he might lose his job in the next round of layoffs.
In thinking about his employment alternatives, he’s realized that the entire newspaper industry is in rough shape, so finding a new job as a pressman is going to be tough.
Meanwhile, in casting about for alternative employment opportunity options, he’s considering what many Baby Boomer-aged workers are dreaming about: changing careers. In his case, Bob doesn’t want to make as drastic a change as some people you may know. For example:
- He doesn’t want to convert himself from CPA to restaurateur
- Or from public relations account executive to blues guitarist
- Nor does he dream of making a transition from office administrator to yoga or Pilates instructor
- He’s not even thinking of making a switch from lawyering to growing and selling organic vegetables
All passion-oriented career changes others have tried…
No, Bob’s inspiration is a switch that will still involve him using his mechanical skills. He just wants to take them in a new direction. He’s been talking with his brother-in-law about a new, “green” technology in the construction industry that they both feel sure is about to take off – installing geothermal pumps.
A change that will have him working outdoors instead of inside, which he will enjoy. And one that will require extensive re-training.
It’s That Last Part That is Concerning Him.
As he explained his dilemma, he outlined the opportunity: “Geothermal heat pumps are similar to your regular heat pumps, except they use the ground instead of outside air to give you your heating, your air conditioning, even hot water. Since they use the earth’s own heat, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies around. Damn cool engineering.”
In other words, this is a “green” technology, and these days, just about everything green is good.
As Bob talked further, his zeal and enthusiasm – or passion – for the new technology became apparent. “These pumps are so energy efficient, I know there’s gonna be a TON of guys like you and me – homeowners looking to save money and energy – who are going to want to install them. Especially since it seems like our home energy costs are going to just keep going through the roof.”
Bottom line as Bob sees it:
- If he earns this new certification, he believes his employment future will be secure
- Instead of plying his superb mechanical skills working with an aging technology – where future employment is iffy – he’ll be positioned on the leading edge of a new one
- He’s feeling huge enthusiasm, or passion, for learning more about the potential new work, which excites him, and makes it worth getting up in the morning
- And he’s sure he’d be making some real good (and reliable) money going forward…
There’s just one thing troubling him: He’d have to become trained and certified for the new work, and the certification will take him four years to achieve.
His Biggest Questions as He Contemplates This Transition: Can His Family Financially Handle His Time in School, AND Is the Significant Investment of His Time and Money – At This Time in His Life – Likely to be Worth It?
- If he went back to school to learn this promising new trade, he would be 50 years old when he finished.
- My answer: “How old will you be in four years if you don’t go to school?”
- Of course Bob got the point: He’d still be 50 years old
- And, he realizes that if he doesn’t grab the opportunity to get new training now, there’s a big chance he’ll be even closer to unemployment in the future
In Other Words: Bob Would be Wise to Consider the Possibilities; Not Just Go for a “Knee-Jerk” Reaction Which Lets Age Keep Him From Investing Into An Enjoyable New Work Opportunity.
Especially since, if Bob gets into doing something he really loves and has a passion for, there are major life benefits.
First, instead of constantly running an employment treadmill, staying in a job in which he’s continually stressed out over the looming potential for unemployment, he’ll have developed new and desirable skills. Not to mention that everything else about his life will be so much more enjoyable once he’s spending his working hours doing something he enjoys!
- He’ll have a passion for his work, which is really important.
- He’ll benefit from a much stronger opportunity to be successful in his work
- Not to mention that his stress levels will be lower, making for a much more enjoyable homelife, too
Second, fifty just isn’t that old anymore. At age 50, Bob – or you, if you were in his shoes – still has 15 years of work/employment ahead of him before he reaches the traditional retirement age of 65 – plenty of time to make it worthwhile to change his career.
Besides which, the reality is, most Baby Boomers are going to work long past the old traditional retirement age of 65, so at 50 you’re realistically talking about having MORE than 15 working years ahead of you.
Third, despite an economy in recession, and Bob’s very real concern for personal economic meltdown if he leaves his current job, the opportunities for a midlife career change have never been better. In fact, a variety of factors currently work in favor of midlife career change, including:
- Changing attitudes toward older workers
- Rising demand for workplace experience
- More powerful job-search resources
- Employers’ pending recognition that they can’t afford to lose older workers. This is especially apparent in fields the fields of nursing, hospitality and utilities. Bob’s career change would factor into the latter arena.
So How Can Bob Make This Work? Especially Because He Wants to Avoid Financial Hardship While He Gets Things Going?
Despite all the opportunity, “recareering” – changing careers in midlife – can involve difficult and potentially life-altering decisions. Especially if going back to school forces an overhaul of your lifestyle or your family’s standard of living.
Bob clearly realizes that unless he comes up with a corrective plan in advance, in the short-term, his opportunity has the potential to:
- Damage his family life and maybe even cost him his friends
- Generate a lot of internal stress
- Significantly reduce the amount of time he has to relax and socialize
- Negatively impact his finances – in the short term
A Career Coach or Counselor Can Show You How, With Planning, All of These Negatives Can be Controlled.
For example, a career counselor would help Bob:
- Figure out his passion, if we weren’t yet sure of it; so he could be sure he was moving in the right direction.
- Advise Bob that he needs to make sure his family supports his decision
- Help him work out a strategy to make sure he can pay his bills while he’s getting refocused. (For example, Bob might have an option to take a buyout from his newspaper job, and live off some of his 401K savings for the short-term)
- Make sure his motivation to change is properly focused
Bottom Line: Since You’re Going to Be Working A Couple More Decades Anyway, Why Shouldn’t You Do Work You Enjoy – Something That Gives You the Opportunity to “Dance” a Bit Every Day?
And in terms of recareering and the concept of dancing with the one “what brung ya,” I believe that means you need to look into how you can:
- Develop work from a hobby
- Create income from something for which you have passion.*
- Incorporate skills you have, enjoy and in which you excel
In Bob’s case, those are his mechanical skills and his passion for helping people save money through use of a “green” technology.
What Are YOU Passionate About? What Makes YOU Dance? (And Are You Dancing Enough?)
*Not sure whether or not you actually have a passion for anything? Join the crowd. A lot of people are confused right now about how to live a life with passion. Yet making time to dance is so important.
This book, The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, will really help you figure it out. The book is by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. Here are a few great quotes that explain how powerful it is:
- “The simplest, clearest way to get started on knowing what you want—by getting clear on who you are.”
—T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
- “It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s profound.”
—Jack Canfield, cocreator of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul
- “[A] clear, simple, and effective method to help you identify your core passions so you can create the fulfilling life you deserve.”
—John Gray, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
Now, go forth and dance with passion!
The Shocking Truth About Hip Hop Dancing: Who Knew It’s Actually A Hellaciously Fun, Heart-Healthy Workout That Also Benefits Your Brain?
If you’re like many Baby Boomers, you’re always planning to get to the gym “next week” when you life won’t be quite so busy. (Yeah, right.) You probably already know that what you really need to do is to find an exercise program that is so much fun you can’t wait to get back to it. (And of course, it’d be even better if you could do it wherever you find yourself – at home, at work or on the road – without having to buy any expensive equipment). Otherwise, with your “busy-busy-busy” lifestyle, fitting in a trip to the gym falls to the bottom of your to-do list…
Maybe the Beijing Olympics Inspired You a Bit?
No doubt watching 42-year old Dara Torres anchor the U.S. women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay to a silver medal finish encouraged you to find time to get back into a fitness routine. Dara’s certainly a testament to dedication, passion and willpower. Doubtless she motivated millions of Boomers who’ve slipped away from the health benefits of a regular exercise routine. But for fitness-challenged Boomers, Dara may not have been the most inspirational presence at the recent Beijing Olympics. Nor were the 20 other older Olympians – motivational as they were — who represented other sports, including:
- John Dane, a 58 year old sailor, whose pursuit for an Olympic berth began 40 years ago in 1968. Dane has teamed with his son-in-law to make the team in the Star event.
- Libby Callahan, 56 year old pistol shooter and retired Washington, DC police officer, who competed in her fourth Games.
- Hiroshi Hoketsu, Beijing’s oldest Olympian at 67, who competed on the Japanese equestrian team.
No, For Pure Fitness Inspiration, Nothing Could Possibly Beat Beijing’s “Hip Hop Grannies” – Who Weren’t Even IOC-Sanctioned Olympians!
Did catch the Hip Hop Dancing exhibition led by Wu Ying, a 70 year old Chinese grandmother from Beijing? Her troupe, the Hip-Hop Grannies,” performed on set of the Today show, and were truly amazing. Check it out for true inspiration!!
For The Hip-Hop Grannies, Dancing Proves “50 Is the New 30”
Wu Ying is from a generation that lived through some of modern China’s most tumultuous decades, including the stifling Cultural Revolution era, when western cultural thought and influences were banned. She probably never heard of the Boomer slogan “50 is the new 30,” but she does know the benefits she’s gained from her fun exercise program that she can practice anywhere. And she plans to dance for as long as she physically can, noting:
“I think that dancing hip-hop has made me younger, happier, [and] improved my memory.”
Dancing Also Benefits Mental Health
The physical health payoff from dancing might appear obvious, but there’s more: Regular physical exercise also staves off dementia and improves mental acuity. Just ask the “Grannies:”
- Liu Jian Zhu, a 59-year-old former pharmacist with the Chinese air force, said dancing hip-hop has been “a breakthrough” for her. “Since I was in the military, my life had been required to be serious and intense,” Liu explained. “It has really changed my life and personality.”
- Wen Di, 55, used to work as a railroad construction technician, but after retiring just last year she wanted to find something to fill what she called the emptiness in her life. “I saw Wu’s dancing on TV and thought that it was very inspiring.”
- Says Wu: “We represent a new image, a new fashion for Chinese grandmothers. We develop with time and connect with the world. We don’t just learn our own Chinese culture. We learn cultures from other countries to enrich ourselves and our lives to lead a more colorful and high-quality life.”
How the Chinese Dancing Grannies Got Started
Wu Ying began performing hip-hop routines in 2003, after catching the first National Hip-Hop Dancing Competition on Chinese television:
- “The competitors were all young people, wearing headscarves, headdresses, hats, and various clothes,” recounted Wu, a retired accountant who was 66 at the time. “I thought that was very fresh.”
- Inspired by “the look they had in their eyes, the way they moved their fingers, heads and bodies,” Wu thought hip-hop dancing would be perfect for herself and China’s aged and infirm.
- Wu set out to learn hip-hop dancing at a local gym.
- She also began looking to put together a five-member troupe to promote hip-hop dancing by touring the country and by performing on Chinese TV.
The Hip-Hop Granny Dance Team soon formed and the Grannies – whose average age was 60 – made their debut in August of 2004 at the Beijing qualifier for the National Hip-Hop Dancing Competition.
- They faced off against people several decades younger.
- “They (the younger competition) were professionals.”
- “We seniors didn’t know much so we were very nervous.”
But their daily rehearsal routines paid off; the women walked off with third prize.
So Now It’s Your Turn to Get Up Off Your Couch and Started Dancing!
Here’s how to start hip-hop dancing in your neighborhood!
- Download your free Hip Hop Radio toolbar, and start dancing to the hip hop beat from the comfort of your home.
- Find out if there’s a dance studio near you offering adult hip-hop and sign up. Do it now. Don’t let the grass grow under your feet! (They really wanna be dancing!)
- Check out this great list of hip hop dancing videos which you can order online and start learning in the comfort of your own home.
And one last parting thought: Wu Ying says the next dance she plans to tackle is break dancing! Think you can keep up with this spry septuagenarian Chinese grandmother?