Founder and director of the Center for Creativity and Work and originator of the Discovering Your Soul’s Work seminars and coaching program, Allie Roth, M.A. is a career and life coach with more than twenty-five years’ experience in creativity, wellness and career development. Her holistic approach combines Jungian and transpersonal psychologies, Mindfulness Meditation and Eastern spiritual practices with traditional career counseling. She often appears on television and radio to discuss her work, and articles by or about her have been published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, The Denver Post, The Wall Street Journal, as well as Smart Money, Healthy Living and Spirituality and Health magazines. 

Allie has been a college English instructor and has worked in corporate training and outplacement at companies including AT&T, American Express and ABC. She is on the faculties of New York Open Center and SUNY-Ulster and is an active member of the Sustainable Coaching Alliance and the Career Counselors’ Consortium.  Allie is also an Interfaith Minister certified Kripalu yoga instructor. 


A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?
-Robert Browning 

Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Reinventing Retirement: Encore Careers for the 21st Century

Reinventing Retirement

It seems like only yesterday that everyone looked forward to retirement as the “golden years,” a time of relaxing, playing golf, some travel and visiting grandkids.
There has been a shift now. The longevity revolution, where many people are living active lives 20-30 years and more beyond retirement age is part of the reason. Boredom in Paradise! Life without structure, community, and a deep soul nurturing sense of purpose is not satisfying for most of us. Added to this, the economic downturn has caused many who were considering retiring at 65 or earlier to realize that they have to work to make ends meet.
In my career coaching practice, I hear many clients in later midlife and beyond questioning their future. Those who are still working often feel stymied and frustrated in their work. The exciting challenges have been met and they long to express more of themselves. Those who have retired or are unemployed realize that endless days of freedom and time is often not enough. Their careers provided a framework for their lives. When this is ripped away, they feel unsettled and disconnected.
If midlife is a time of self-reflection, this time of later midlife and beyond is even more so. It is time to ask the big questions: Who am I really? What is the unlived part of me? What is my legacy to the world? How can I serve and be connected to a larger purpose. As Carl Jung once said: “ We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning—for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in morning was true will at evening become a lie.”
Jane Fonda, on a book tour for her recent book “Prime Time” spoke in Berkeley a few years ago about her life and observations at age 73. She left Ted Turner because with him life was great but “horizontal”. She had the need to go deeper and examine the earlier stages of her life to fully live what she calls her “third stage”. Fonda looks at the years beyond 60 not as a decline but as an “ascending staircase.” She didn’t mention God but spiritual as well as personal growth was strongly implied.
Marc Freedman in his most recent book “The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife” really nails it. He calls for a new map of life and names the years between middle age and being elderly the “encore stage”. We are beyond middle age and not yet old. We have energy, creativity, experience, time, and a desire to serve, to do something meaningful and to leave our legacy.
In this book and his previous one called “Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life” Freedman interviews scores of individuals leaving corporate and professional jobs and transitioning to work in the nonprofit, educational, and public service areas. This subject has long fascinated me and as I recently looked through my files I see that I have collected numerous ideas and articles related to it since 2003. Thank you, Marc, for naming it.
There has been some talk in the media recently of older people being a burden on society. This certainly doesn’t have to be so. The need to connect, to be part of a community making a difference in the world, to leave a meaningful legacy calls us and is part of our human journey. It is time for more of us to do the inner work and then find our own individual path and direction for this important next stage of our lives.  

Reflections on Career and Change

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•  A successful technology consultant facing a mid-life search for meaning in his work goes back to school for a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is excited about building his family therapy practice. 

•  A high-level international banker, yearning for autonomy and challenge, launches an independent consultancy that draws on his Ph.D. in political science and his extensive global network. 

•  An automotive detail engineer, bored and frustrated after twenty years in his field, follows his love of nature and takes a job in a rural area, writing an environmental newsletter for a non-profit agency. 

•  A high-level international banker, yearning for autonomy and challenge, launches an independent consultancy that draws on his Ph.D. in political science and his extensive global network.  

•  The marketing director at an international fashion company decides to pursue her interest in writing and soon becomes the editor of a major magazine, bringing alternative health to a mainstream audience.  

In my twenty five years as a career consultant, I’ve been fascinated by people such as these who make major changes easily while others who have dreams fail to act upon them. Why do some people become immobilized by fear at the mere thought of change?In a dynamic world, change is a constant whether we choose it or whether it is thrust upon us. Charles Handy in The Age of Unreason, published in 1990 but still a business classic, talks about the incredible rate of “discontinuous” or unpredictable change in technology and the economy. As individuals, we are impacted both by these external changes and by our own internal changes in awareness, interests, values, needs and life-stage.Change is energy. If we resist it, we wind up tired, burnt-out, uninspired, spending our energy holding on with clenched fists, fighting for the status quo. Fear runs us. Our creativity and productivity plummet. The irony is that many of us are holding onto a job, system, relationship or lifestyle that we don’t even really like or that no longer supports who we are.Successful career changers embrace certain principles. The following comments are based on my integration of Jungian psychology and Eastern philosophy with traditional career development and my observations of my clients’ transitions.Start with Self-KnowledgeEach of us is a still point in the sea of change. By going within and connecting with our deepest sense of purpose, we can become the anchor in our own life. Taking the time to introspect and re-contact moments of high creativity, as well as themes, values and interests that have run through our lives, we are freed from defining ourselves in terms of success and failure at our most recent job or career. As one client said after going through my career transition process, “My whole self-concept was redefined.”One woman came to me for career counseling when her marriage was falling apart. Her self-esteem was very low, and she saw herself as a failure because she hadn’t passed her accountancy exam. It turned out that becoming an accountant had been her husband’s Idea. In our sessions she came to see that helping others and an interest in psychology were consistent throughout her life. She has now returned to school for a master’s degree in social work.Another client said, “I was stuck in a rut, thinking that TV production was all I could do and that it had to be in New York.” Once unstuck, she sublet her apartment, moved to Ohio, and within three weeks received two job offers. She envisions a new career in fitness programs for children, but the move was an important first step. “I’m not a spiritual person,” she says, “but all of a sudden things were working for me. It is as if it was meant to be.”Choice and VisualizationAt some point it is necessary to stop the self -exploration, make a choice, and begin to take action. This is a difficult shift for many, moving from the “yin” of self-reflection to the “yang” of making it happen. Visualization is helpful here. Twice a day clients visualize themselves reaching their goal. They see themselves taking steps and overcoming obstacles along the way. They sense the energy and excitement in their bodies.Focus and SynchronicityCarl Jung defined synchronicity as meaningful coincidence between events separated in space and/or time. Again and again, I see that when a client has a focus-especially when it is connected to a deep sense of self- the right people and events seem to be attracted to him/her and change unfolds easily. Everyone has experienced this in some way. A schoolteacher entering the field of training wonders where her first job interview will come from. She goes to a cocktail party and the first person she meets is the vice-president of training at a major bank where there is an open position. Successful career changers are open to synchronicity and follow through on these seeming coincidences.Tolerance for AmbiguityChange doesn’t happen overnight, and it often proceeds in unpredictable ways. Successful career changers make choices, then view obstacles that occur as lessons bringing them closer to their goals. There is an important interplay of structure and flexibility. As in sailing, we need to chart a course, monitor closely the weather, wind and currents, and adjust accordingly.Opening to SupportThe willingness to draw on others’ strengths and to share our own is another key to successful transition. If you have like-minded friends, form a Creating Change group. Or, you may prefer to work with a career coach individually or in a group setting. There are so many distractions in our lives today that setting a time every week to focus, visualize, discuss obstacles and get support is very powerful for everything from transition and job search to increasing salary or profits.  

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