Whether you have a Ph.D. or a High School Diploma, it is never too late to invest in New Learning; something you do not know but wish you did or something that you should just know.
For many people, it is all very simple. You go to school between the ages of 5 and 18, maybe 21. After you've "grown up", it's off to work. The only new learning you'll need is for the rules of the company that you've settled into. If you're lucky, you might get some additional supervision or management training. Otherwise, it's about getting the paycheck, updating the resume incidentally and checking out the wanted pages for the next higher paying job. The concept of viewing your life as a path with miles; having a map based on good information to guide you down that path is foreign to many of us.
For some, their adult work life has been a collection of outstanding good luck (being in the right place at the right time) or making a new job where none existed. Their careers were not part of a master plan or that they really put a lot of thought into it; what many experts call "Career Management". That's fine when you're 25 or even 40. But when you're 58 and a Boomer, in career transition, whether voluntary or not, managing your career seems secondary to trying to manage your life before it falls apart. What took many a while to understand is that the two are not separate. It's not Career Management that's important; it's Life Management. Your career is as much a part of your life as is family, friends, hobbies and your dog named Waldo. They are all part of a puzzle puzzle called life that, more often than not, challenges us to no end. Trying to weave all this together is a constant trial and error exercise.
What supposedly eases the difficulty are the lessons and knowledge you've learned during your lifetime, informally and formally, through educational institutions, on the job and in life. If you were paying attention, you were managing your life in such a way that you were absorbing as much practical information and experience as any one human being could possibly take in; using what you could when needed and storing the rest for later.
This takes a commitment to look at your entire life management in a new way. It begins with a willingness to look at yourself differently. Your circumstances are not what they were 10 or 20 years ago. As a Boomer, you may have greater financial and family responsibilities. Your ego is bigger. Until now, you thought your non-management techniques seemed to have worked. But now you realize, they have not and you have no clue what to do next.
Some Boomers are lucky. The company they've parted with offers three months of outplacement that helps them frame a new life management vision. Then they throw them into new projects and experiences. Not all of them involve familiar knowledge. There's new things to learn. Technology. The new buzz words. The internet and search engines. A bit of advice, learn Google Alerts. Trust me; your mailbox will be full everyday with information to read. Then there's the websites with their email alerts and newsletters on every possible subject.
But it's not all online. Enroll in conferences, workshops and seminars. Visit the bookstore's magazine rack where, there too, you can find a magazine for every possible topic. School courses are next. Offline and Online, every major college in America has something for you.
Once you start digging, you'll find the information. The challenge is using it to your advantage. Sifting through the mountain of advice and leads can give you a headache. The filter comes from you. Set out some visions for yourself. Play around in your head with "what ifs" and "how about this?". Buy a grease board or large sheets of paper, put it on your den wall or in your bathroom and play around with diagramming your life, your goals and making-believe options. It may seem tough to do this mind gaming when you need to run out there and make some money, but what's one hour in your life? All this new learning fuels new life management techniques which lead to greater options and hopefully better life choices.
Remember to always think big picture also. This is not only about you. Make sure that everyone else in your life that is affected by what you do gets thrown up on that board. That includes your family, friends, former collections and yes, your dog, Waldo.