MY OWN VERSION: How Jackie Onassis helped me write my own Chapter 2…
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “There are no second acts in American lives.”
But I never believed him.
And now, in the years after the Internet revolution the economic recession, we have proof all around us — so many Americans having to reinvent themselves to keep their careers going, find a new one or just make a living.
This topic of re-creating yourself has been on my mind a lot lately, whether you call it a second act, a Plan B or self-invention. If we all write the story of our lives, then sometimes we have to turn a page, right?
Russ Kendall, a photojournalist of many years, left newspapers 18 months ago to run a pizza restaurant in Washington State. Russ and I worked together in Alaska in the early ‘90s. I left the business seven years ago. Since then, more than 54,000 jobs have been lost in the industry.
This summer, Russ started a Facebook group for ex-newspaper people, or those who might soon be ex-newspaper people. He calls it What’s Your Plan B and it has 1,300 members. Many have shared their stories of despair and inspiration.
“This group is designed not so much to share the horror stories we all have but more to help each other to move forward with a successful Plan B,” Russ says.
Newspaper guru Jim Romenesko wrote a nice little piece about it here. He shared this: Most of the posts are serious, but I laughed at this one: “Um.. Photojournalism WAS my plan B. Plan A was to own a video rental store.”
Not just journalists
Every day on Facebook, I see other former journalists going to law school or getting MBAs. But it’s not just the news business that got the rug pulled out from under it. And some people choose to change their lives for reasons that are more personal than the struggles of an industry alone.
- I know a doctor who left his practice, went back to school in his 50s to get another advanced degree – and then changed cities and career focus. He’s still a doctor, but in an entirely different field. He wanted to make a big change for the remaining chapters of his career and took empowering, successful steps to do it.
- He and I were having dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Atlanta recently. The waiter, clearly 40-ish, joked that he was a college sophomore, so we asked him about that. He said he’s going to nursing school so he can help people and have a new, more rewarding career.
- Another friend used to be a high-flying chef in New York City, back when he was wild and single. Now a happily married dad of three in an Atlanta suburb, he runs a family travel business with his wife. Side jobs cooking and teaching give him an outlet for his passion and skill in the kitchen.
- And just Friday night, I went to a wedding reception. The couple had asked a friend, an IT professional of 30 years, to prepare his gourmet cupcakes. He’s testing the waters for a new chapter of his own. (I told him he had to do it – the cupcakes were that good.)
Plenty of articles, resources
There are many good articles and online resources for anyone wanting to write their own Act 2. Here are a few:
- “Major life changes are never easy, because your instincts and the urgent matters of the day work against you. But when you learn to focus on your future self, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve,” says a Psychology Today article.
- From The Harvard Business Review: How to Reinvent Yourself After 50.
- From techcrunch.com: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Reinventing Yourself.
- “Are you serious about transformation? I’m not talking about polishing yourself, improving yourself, making things a bit better. I’m talking about the reset button—a reinvention that changes the game. That means an overhaul in what you believe and how you do your job. If you’re up for that, then right here, right now, you can start. How? Do work that matters.” From a success.com piece headlined Ways to Reinvent Yourself.
- From More magazine: 10 Things to Know Before You Change Your Life.
- From Forbes: Five Steps to Reinventing Yourself Professionally.
Share your experiences through the link at the top.
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