by Mary Louise Vannatta
Every decade or so, I like to "reinvent myself." That means I have to test myself, to try something new, to keep up "with the times." I tried (and abandoned) skiing and rollerblading; I settled on scuba diving and social media. I'm a few years away from a major milestone, so the planning has begun!
Regularly, I get a request to meet with someone who wants to be a PR person/event planner/writer or: fill in the blank. I struggle to provide valuable advice to those who are looking at an "encore career" (the term for those who are seeking work a second time around).
However, after meeting with many people and watching their process, here are a few thoughts:
What do you love?
If you don't need money (or a lot of it), you have much more flexibility to explore your passions through volunteerism. Take time to learn what might be available to you as you find your new career or way to plug in to your community.
If you've spent your life in front of a computer and you love the outdoors, it might be time to seek the peace found in nature by offering to help beach clean-ups or nature conservatories.
Conversely, you may have spent plenty of time being exposed to the elements and would love something "indoors and out of the rain."
What do you know?
Do you know what makes you special? If not, ask around. Good friends and colleagues would be happy to tell you what they like and admire about you. That special something is a gift you can apply to a new career.
Your pleasant voice, your quick wit, mathematical ability or can-do attitude can transfer to various professions. Listen carefully.
Don't overlook paying for a professional opinion, especially if you think you have a flawless singing voice or are planning to invest the next few years writing the next bestseller. The closer you get to your true talents, the better.
What don't you know?
If you've been in a career for a while or out of the game, you are most likely behind the technology curve and the times. Fact: No matter what field you choose, it will be easier if you are contemporary in your knowledge and appearance. You will need to use email, cell phones and social media.
Even though you might still fit into your 1980's wardrobe, it might be time for an update. Neon might be back, but not for me. Even if you don't plan to be a Facebook fan, you need to understand its role in current communication and be willing to try.
Reinvention can be fun and exciting and can include trying and learning many new things. Be open to new experiences and you might find yourself scuba diving or writing a column in the paper!
Mary Louise VanNatta is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with the American Society of Association Executives and has spent over 25 years in the field of Association Management and Public Relations.
She specializes in copywriting and event planning and has been recognized statewide for her writing and promotional skills. Mary Louise graduated from Willamette University with honors and a triple major in Political Science, International Relations (Latin American Studies) and Spanish.
She has been honored as Rotarian of the Year, one of the OSU Austin Family Businesses of the Year, nominee for the Athena Awards and currently writes the weekly society column in the Statesman Journal Newspaper in Salem, OR. She can be reached at http://PRSalem.com
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