Guest Post by DCP Author Donna Rippley
In working with clients from every walk of life, I have found two things that are especially powerful in helping people to move forward toward a more meaningful life: 1) stories about others that inspire us, and 2) taking the time to “take inventory” and do some reflective thinking.
Since August is “ Boomers Making a Difference Month,” I think it is a wonderful time to share the inspiring story of one Boomer who is making a difference, and then to step back and ask ourselves some questions about meaningful things we have done and how we are making a difference for others.
Of course we can make a difference in a variety of ways: within our families, in our communities, or in the wider world. The difference we make can come in the form of work we do, or through volunteering for an organization, or by reaching out to people or causes on our own.
In my book I Want a NEW CAREER, Now What Do I Do?, I share the inspiring story of Kathy Stevens, a boomer who found a unique way to make a difference. Through her career as a teacher, Kathy had certainly been able to make a difference in the lives of others. But when offered the opportunity to move into an administrative position, she felt a certain tug that is familiar to many of us boomers when we stand at a crossroads. In Kathy’s own words: “I thought, ‘What on earth do I want to do with the rest of my life’?”
For Kathy, that question was answered by her love of animals and her desire to make a difference in the wider world. After months of research, travel, and internships, Kathy co-founded Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), a 110-acre haven for horses and farm animals rescued from cruelty and neglect. CAS has rescued over 3,000 animals, with as many as 250 living on the property at a given time. The ones that heal physically and psychologically are put up for adoption, but many old or blind animals remain as permanent residents.
In addition to emergency rescue, CAS provides innovative programs that educate the public about the sentience of farm animals, and the devastating impacts of agribusiness and institutionalized cruelty on animals, people, and the planet. When researching animal sanctuaries, Kathy had learned there were none that included the educational component in their missions. According to Kathy, “That’s when I had my ‘a-ha’ moment. That’s my niche.”
So, how do we go about trying to find our own “niche”? Each of us has a unique set of skills, talents, accomplishments and values that, with a little reflection, can lead us closer to the answer of what we want our own imprint to be in the world. Perhaps we haven’t yet made the difference we want to, or maybe we are not sure where we want to make that difference.
Some great reflection questions are:
• How would you like to make things better for others?
• What have you accomplished that you hold very strong values around?
• What would you like to impact in this world?
• Where do your values, skills and interests intersect?
• Do you have talents that you would like to share with others to inspire their work?
• Is there a cause around which you have strong feelings and resources to offer others?
• Is there something you want to create or be involved in that will outlast you? Cast your net wide and list lots of ideas; consider the specifics, but also zoom out and think of the big picture. To help generate some more ideas, how would you complete the following sentences?
1. I believe my purpose in the world is to…
2. Looking back on my life 20 years from now, I hope I have…
3. I have lots of energy and passion around…
Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? There’s no time like the present—after all, it is “Boomers Making a Difference Month.” What will the story of the rest of your life be?
Connect with Donna Rippley on www.centerforcareertransition.com