My mom, a woman who was just at the leading edge of (or a little before) the women’s movement, was the daughter of progressive parents. The youngest of five, with her closest sibling 7 years older and her brother a veteran of WWII, MaryLou grew up in a different environment than those of depression-era children. She came into adolescence just as the country was in post-war hopefulness and an optimism that the world was going to be a better place, with rapid advances in technology and economy visibly occurring everyday. Her family had always placed a high value on education, and the learning did not stop with high school and college. MaryLou was told (as I was) that she could do anything she put her mind to, and she believed it. The social structures of the late 1950’s were not in place for women to easily pursue careers in medicine or business, but MaryLou pursued a degree in mathematics and later, a master’s degree in the same, although her initial application of her studies was as a high school teacher.
Between the life of motherhood and teaching, my mom still yearned for more. Her father encouraged her to continue her education studying subjects which interested her and might lead to a relevance in her future life. She studied accounting, dance, and finally, computer languages. This searching- for STIMULATION and GROWTH – led her to her last and longest job in Management Information Science, which was the start of the computer revolution, transforming business and government in the ’70s and ’80s.
My mother passed on the same advice to me, “take a class”, whenever there was a stagnation or even comfortability in my career. I took marketing, dance, and enrolled in a master’s program. The simple act of being a student again seemed to keep me growing and going, outside of my job and home. Learning new skills and taking on new tasks can have an amazing effect on the mind, besides the obvious gleaning of information. It’s the practice of OPENING NEW CHANNELS IN THE MIND, looking at something from a brand new perspective, that not only keeps your brain active, but also helps tremendously with ADAPTABILITY and RESILIENCE.
One of the biggest challenges in the transition to retirement is the response to change. Particularly for people in high-functioning and concrete roles (executives, business owners, doctors, airline pilots), there is a daily adaptation to the fluid business world changes. But when it comes to a large, life-oriented transition, all the business-world practices don’t seem to translate well to a peaceful and calm step into the next chapter of life. What can you do to make it better? Knowing this limitation, you can start opening these channels in your mind, and flexing the change muscle by taking a class. It can be a subject you always wanted to study or something you know absolutely nothing about. It can be physical, like a dance or exercise program, or it can be academically oriented, with books and homework involved. It can be a continuation of coursework once-explored but left behind for expediency, or it can be a passion that you want to embrace in the next phase, post-career. The key idea is that you START NOW- well before you retire- to till up the brain and get it prepared for the changes to come. You’ll be glad you did!
Posted on March 19, 2018Leave a comment