"This isn't meant to be retirement inoculation or boring job prevention," quipped Dorothy W. Cantor, PsyD, speaking in April at a Smithsonian Institution event in Washington, D.C., about her new book, "What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up? Starting the Next Chapter of Your Life."
"I assume you're here because you're anticipating a career change or transition," she said to a standing-room-only auditorium.
Cantor, an APA past president, along with writer Andrea Thompson, focused the book on creating a roadmap for life in middle and retirement age. The book tells the story of men and women who are taking time to re-examine their work and life goals.
"How do you do this if you don't know what you want to do?" asked Cantor. "You review your own life and try to recognize what motivates you." She suggests that people begin by remembering what they dreamt of being when they were children.
"What were your passions? Can you rekindle that interest?" she asked.
Next, she recommends an examination of one's personal feelings about work and career. "Is work meant to be enjoyed? How did you end up in your job? How did you get promoted or adjust to changes? What do you love or hate about your work?"
Cantor posits that in addition to exploring work, people should explore their personal ideologies. "What are your top five roles and which would be the first to go if you had to give it up?" she asked.
Finally, she advised, identify the roadblocks to change. "Growing up always involves a bit of improvisation, shaping and reshaping a life as you go along, and the willingness to refocus and redefine wants and needs," she said.
"We're all taught to eat right, exercise, save money for later and we'll live longer." But without the emotional planning and self-inventory, Cantor suggests, "we'll have a generation of people who are healthy, wealthy and bored!"