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27. August 2015

The Learning Curve . . . Again (Part 5 of 5)

by Vanessa Castagna, Advisor, My Next Season

How does it feel to be in charge…of yourself? For better or worse, you are now managing your own calendar. The demands on your time may be less or may have shifted in nature. That crazy travel schedule has subsided. Your perspective has expanded as you realize there is so much more about life to learn and discover. Perhaps you are also now managing care giving efforts for an aging parent, or supporting an adult child through his/her life challenges. Overall, however, it’s probably safe to say that you have more capacity and flexibility to explore and embrace new possibilities than you had while working full time. You remain no stranger to learning new things. You’ve done that for decades – to help your organization, its people, and its bottom line.

Now is the time for you to choose where you’ll stretch your skills and exercise your curiosity next.

Even if your corporate life is only weeks or months behind you, it may feel like a lifetime ago. As your head and your heart adjust to a new pace and intensity of life, you’re well-positioned to repurpose your skills and renew your interests and your life. Trial and error are not as intimidating as they were in your early years. Stretching yourself and seeking opportunities to be challenged and even a bit uncomfortable will bring energy, excitement, and growth.

Having been in retail for more than 3 decades, I knew I wanted to do something which would maximize my skills but in a new setting or application so that I could continue to learn. I committed to my first board directorship and launched into consulting. They were both related to my industry but in completely different ways… and I loved it! Connecting with new colleagues and the new and unique challenges were rewarding and very fulfilling. I knew I was making a difference!

As I focused on staying open to learning and listening, it almost seemed as if some opportunities found me. These last few years I have become a trustee to a major university, become involved with compelling start-up businesses, served on several corporate boards, travelled extensively, and engaged with my friends and family at a deeper level. All have been very rewarding. Dynamic situations, new concepts, and worthwhile institutions are waiting for your leadership and involvement.

Keep in mind that many learning opportunities will be less business and more personal in nature. Maybe you’ll learn about that new computer game that your grandson is obsessed with or learn a new language. When I started mentoring college students I had no idea how personal it would become. It was rewarding in the moment helping students think through their future potential, as well as building friendships that have lasted for years.

It’s been 8 years since my full-time, corporate, rat-race life, and I am continuing my journey of next seasons. By embracing each chapter, I feel I have grown as a leader and a woman, learned a tremendous amount, and have better served my family. My life is the most balanced it has ever been, and certainly the happiest; yet I am grateful and thankful for every day that led me to this place, and now I welcome my next, new season.

Vanessa Castagna brings more than four decades of experience as a Fortune 50 executive and eight years as a consultant and board member to her role as an Advisor for My Next Season. Vanessa is dedicated to supporting other executives as they transfer from corporate careers to meaningful next seasons of their own.

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