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4. March 2015

First Steps for Your Next Season

by Frank Berardi, Advisor, My Next Season

Recently I was having lunch with a colleague who worked with me at Allstate Insurance for many years. We spoke of a phrase that was coined many years ago by people who left the company and found good fortune after they left. It was common to hear people say “There is life beyond Allstate.” This was always met with a chuckle and affirming head nods. The examples are endless and they really are not testimonies to what it’s like to work there, since Allstate was and continues to be a good company to work for. Instead it illustrates that there are opportunities that we may never think possible because of the security that working for a good company affords us.

Many times we shut down our imagination and dreams simply because we are satisfied or content and see no reason to make a change. Then comes along a message from the universe in the form of an early buy out, reorganization, desire for “new blood” – you name it. The form in which it comes doesn’t really matter. The point is that you are faced with the prospect of finding out what is next for you and your family at a time when you have not really put much serious thought into it.  So what now?

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Accept the fact that this is real and move beyond the natural reaction to blame, resent, feel sorry for, or beat up on yourself. There is usually comfort in knowing that this is common in business today and as we all know “nothing is forever.”
  • Talk to people: your network, family, professional advisors, people doing things you may be interested in. All are good sources of information and can share their experiences.  When I was faced with a situation like this I scheduled four lunches a week and sent notes to key people. I had requests for work after only three weeks.
  • Take time to really consider how you want to spend your time. People get their satisfaction by contributing their talents to productive endeavors. This is not as easy as it may seem. Maybe the area in which you are interested is something very unusual. So what. Who are you trying to please? Go for it!
  • If you are still working, remember that it is naive to think that things will remain the same. Be prepared to “land safely” in the event you are faced with unexpected change. This is best done by asking yourself what is next and planning several options.

Another major reason to find your next move is that productive work helps you stay mentally sharp. A recent study of 429,000 workers revealed that for every year you were productively involved in “work,” your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia were reduced by 3.2 %. This research gives power to the phrase “use it or lose it.”

The old notion of “retirement” was a social program devised in 1935 during the depression era. The age 65 was chosen since at that time the average age at death was 60, and it was believed that few people would live long enough to collect a substantial amount. This was fine, except we never really changed our notion of “retirement age” and now life expectancy is close to 80. For years we have held the idea that 65 is a milestone age at which point the brain suddenly shuts off and we are not able to be productive. This notion is being proven inaccurate time and time again.

Bottom line – we need to look at work, not according to age, but rather what we can do to contribute and be productive. My favorite saying is that “I would rather wear out than rust out.”

Frank Berardi serves as an Advisor with My Next Season where he uses his 30+ years as a senior executive with Allstate and more than 15 years as an executive coach to help transitioning executives leave well and land well in their Next Season.

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