How can I make a difference?

Through developing the website, www.happiness-after-midlife that I co-founded with my ex business partner, Dr. Frank Bonkowski, something got triggered in me.

The site deals with the issues around happiness as they relate to people who are in the “Third Age,” those of us who are roughly between the ages of 45-75. A characteristic of people in that age group is that we want to give back to society in some way, a phenomenon known as “generativity” (generativity is a struggle against stagnation that ascends during adulthood. Generativity in the psychosocial sense refers to the concern for establishing and guiding the next generation and is said to stem from a sense of optimism about humanity- Wikipedia). This is where I find myself. Even though I have no children, I’m not okay with leaving a default legacy for the planet- “going down the tubes.”

This experience of wanting to make a difference isn’t unique to midlifers and beyond but is present in all age groups. For the most part, it’s suppressed. Continue reading

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Meaningful Work- Is it discovered or created? Part 2

In my last post, I shared with you how I’ve been grappling with the notion of meaningful work within the framework of 2 questions: (1) What is meaningful work? and (2) Is it discovered or created?

In this post, I offer different perspectives on this topic.

There’s a model that a number of personal development programs, consultants, coaches and authors use that offers a powerful way at looking at how life works called the “BE-DO-HAVE” or “Cycles of Life” model. I believe it comes from the “Hindu Trinity“- Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer).

Check out this image…

I’ll use meaningful work as a topic to show how human beings operate in life.

Let’s say that I say to myself that “my work isn’t meaningful.” There’s a sense of something is “wrong” here. My job is to fix it and find out how. “There must be something else I can do that’s meaningful for me.”

So, I do some research- read books, check out websites, listen to the experts and what I find out is that I need to discover who I truly am. There are a number of things (qualities, skills, things that I enjoy doing, education, experience, etc.) that I must “have” for my work to be meaningful. Then I’m told or realize that I must “do” certain things (work with a career coach; interview people; read books; volunteer, etc.) that will help me reach my goal of my work “being” meaningful. The flow in this scenario is “have-do-be.” Continue reading

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Meaningful Work- is it discovered or created? Part 1

As of October 1, 2011, after 3 1/2 years, I disengaged from my role as a co-founder and content developer of www.happiness-after-midlife.com. It was a very rich and positive experience. I learned much about online marketing, numerous subjects related to midlife and came to know some of the experts in the field. It brought home the answer to the question I ask my coaching clients and I asked myself- “what’s common to all problems you have?” Closely related is the saying, “wherever you go, there you are.”

One of the outcomes of that experience is it reinforced my point of view on the importance of meaningful work as a source of being fulfilled and happy through all periods of our lives- not just at midlife and beyond.  As we enter midlife, what comes to the forefront in this area of work is our desire to want to make a difference, to give back, to know that our life matters (something that’s been present in the background in our earlier years).

As far as I can tell, there’s a shift taking place as a response to the questionable future of the planet. More and more small business owners want to know what they can do to have a positive social impact- create social change. They’re looking for meaningful work- starting enterprises that have a social mission or re-designing their businesses or jobs so they contribute to the “common good.” My point of view is that in order for work to be considered meaningful, there needs to be a component of giving back  to society.

Meaningful work is something I’ve struggled with all my life having gone through 7 work transitions. There are a couple of issues here: (1) What is meaningful work? and  (2) How do you find it? Continue reading

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