En español | Cindy Anderst of Bismarck, N.D., was feeling stuck. After 22 years in the same job as a dietitian and manager of large food services departments in hospitals and health systems, it felt like she was just holding on until she could retire in a few years.
One day she decided to do something about it. She made a bold leap that meshed her career skills with the purpose she wanted to get out of the next phase of her life. She got a job leading the women's ministry in her church. As she told her friends the first year on her new job, "This is the first spring, summer and fall that I have enjoyed every day."
Making this change has made Cindy a firm believer in Life Reimagined, a digital platform launched by AARP to help people in any stage of life navigate their life transitions. It's about living a full life, in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the work that's right for you — on purpose. "Life Reimagined helps you get unstuck," Cindy says. She especially likes the networking that is built into the process and the tools on the website that help you assess where you are. In fact, Cindy has trained to become a Life Reimagined workshop presenter and now hosts trainings through the adult learning program at a local university and in the community.
Cindy's story is not that uncommon. Millions of us reach a point, usually somewhere between our mid-40s and early 70s, when we begin to question the meaning of our lives and whether our success has brought us happiness. This is a time when many of us reassess our achievements in terms of our dreams. We go through a period of reevaluation and reflection. Have we realized our goals? If not, what do we have to do to reach them? If we have achieved them, has that success given us the happiness and fulfillment we expected?
If so, what's next in our lives? If not, what do we need to do to find happiness and fulfillment? How we answer these questions often leads us to make significant changes in our careers, work-life balance, marriages, relationships, finances and health.
This is also a time of significant transition — when our children leave home or they move back, we become caregivers for our parents, we become grandparents, we change jobs or careers, our appearance and physical health change, and we find ourselves free for perhaps the first time in our adult lives to pursue lifelong dreams.
How we answer these questions also causes us to face our fears — fear of the unknown, of outliving our money, of losing our independence, of failing health, of becoming a burden on our families, or simply fear of boredom.
These are big things to work through all on our own. And most of us could use some guidance. That's where Life Reimagined comes in. Developed by AARP and some of the world's leading experts in life coaching, counseling and guidance, it helps people discover new possibilities and prepare for the changes they want to make, and it supports them to make it happen. It's a map to help you plan the next part of your life.
Maya Angelou observed that at 50, you become the person you always wanted to be. As we live longer lives, in generally better health, with endless possibilities, we have more opportunity than any generation before us to contemplate our life's purpose and chart our own course to be the person we always wanted to be. Too many people resist the transitions that come with age and never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. I urge you to embrace it and be fearless. Once you do, you will be liberated to bring all of your prior experience and wisdom to design the life you want to live.
Besides, as Cindy Anderst says, "It's so fun doing something new in this stage of life." To learn more, go to lifereimagined.aarp.org.
Jo Ann Jenkins is CEO of AARP.
Video: AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins Appears on 'Dr. Phil' Show - “Disrupt Aging” author Jo Ann Jenkins challenges people to change the conversation about aging and embrace what it means to grow older during her recent appearance on the Dr. Phil show.
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