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Smart Women Don't Retire - They Break Free

Posted Sep 12 2008 1:40pm

Another testimony to the value of support groups for people going through transitions. Here's a new book, called Smart Women Don't Retire - They Break Free, written by Gail Rentsch and the women of The Transition Network, a support network based in NYC. This book is one of a number of recently published books (see my other book review posts on this blog) that focuses on the positive aspects of people's continuing to work past the traditional retirement age.

Since there are so many more educated women who work for stimulation and challenge in this generation, it's a wholly new phenomenon that women look forward to their elder years as being a time when they can continue to work, perhaps in a less stressful environment, perhaps in an atmosphere that they choose...rather than feel compelled to work just for the money.

Certainly, some of us need/ could use the extra money past 60 or 65, as we haven't invested so wisely, or our companies pensions have let us down, or our lifestyles are more elaborate than we expected earlier on. But, many do so primarily for the commitment, passion, engagement they feel for contributing to society in the way they want to do so.

Smart Women shows us how women get together to process all the important dilemmas they face as they grow older and still want to "work" at something interesting. Noteworthy chapters to me are:

1) What do I get out of work? What are our personal turn-ons and turn-offs? I like to work with my coaching clients about this when they are thinking of changing their jobs. The question gets at our values and goals and what's important to us, so important that we couldn't do without it. Then the next step is to create a way to continue to get this in our next job, career, volunteer opportunity.

2) Another chapter is: "How Can I Scale Back on Work and Find Some Balance?" The authors include useful bullet-point lists to focus our attention on the main points, such as "How to Create and Negotiate Alternative Jobs." Or "Are You Psyched for a Retirement Career?"

3) The chapter called "I've Always Wanted to..." draws on inspiration from our younger days and encourages us to let go of shoulds and ought-to's that drove us to occupations we may not have been fully engaged in. The bullet-point list reminds us of our "yearnings, interests, and enthusiasms" for those who get stuck on How Do I Find My Passion, especially if I never thought I had any great passions.

4) Finding the right fit as a volunteer points us to consider: Can I try it on first? How much training is there? When should I say no to new commitments?

5) The book concludes with 2 crucial dilemmas that women face as they leave their mid-year's work life: how to continue to maintain the active social network you've developed in your career? And how do you and your partner prepare psychologically for this next step in life?

This is another useful addition to the library of books published about the new generation of women who worked because they were engaged in what they were doing and want to continue to be engaged.

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