Diane Flynn, ReBoot Accel CoFounder and CEO shares her thoughts this week as ReBoot celebrates its second anniversary.
Have you ever conversed with people in their second half of life and noticed that health issues begin to dominate the dialogue? It can seem more things head downhill and limits head uphill with each passing year. It could have been so for me. Instead, I staged a career comeback.
Three years ago, I received the unwelcome diagnosis of breast cancer, just as my girls went off to college and my son was approaching high school. During the mandatory post op month of sofa time, I found myself grateful to be alive and chose to embrace the ‘gift’ of forced quiet and reflection. I pondered the question of “what next?”, and I gained a powerful insight.
I realized that my life is most exhilarating when I help others more fully experience theirs. I also realized that I’m happiest when I’m engaged in creative collaboration, with people I respect, around issues that matter.
Studies on happiness show that, despite increasing health and elder care concerns, happiness can rise in your 50’s and 60’s, about the same time many of us begin to empty our nests. In fact, a recent New York Times article was titled “More Women in Their 60s and 70s Are Having ‘Way Too Much Fun’ to Retire.” That’s good, because many of us are living longer and will need both the income and health benefits that come with returning to and staying in the work force.
As my kids peel off for college and beyond, I am experiencing some of the most fulfilling, joyful, and purposeful years of my life.
While I miss certain aspects of my days with young kids in tow, I don’t miss the sleepless nights and absence of “me time.” For the first time in my adult life, I have the luxury of scheduling many of my days according to what makes ME tick.
Martin Seligman writes on the secret to a happy life in Flourish: A Visionary Understanding of Happiness and Well-being.
In it, he defines 3 types of happiness:
- The ‘Pleasant Life’, when we draw happiness from the world and our senses. It provides temporal happiness, but is not sustainable.
- The ‘Good Life’, when we use our talents to our fullest, getting lost in our work (often referred to as being in the “flow”). This beats the Pleasant Life but it’s far from perfect. What’s still missing?
- The ‘Meaningful Life’, when we are working for something larger than ourselves. This is when we use our signature strengths to benefit others as well as ourselves.
The combination of these 3 Lives—the Pleasant, Good, and Meaningful—produce the RICH life.
- Do something that makes us smile.
- Do something we’re good at.
- Make sure our efforts help someone else smile.
Four months after my surgery, and following a decade+ career pause, I returned to paid work as CMO at GSVlabs, a startup incubator in Silicon Valley. My illness and recuperation period had clarified that I wanted to apply all the work skills and life experience I had gained in a growing venture that helped others start businesses and succeed.
Soon after, additional contemplation and change provided the perfect catalyst for creation of ReBoot Accel; a career accelerator that gets women current, connected, and confident to return to work.
While ReBoot Accel started with the mission to help local women who needed and wanted to reenter the workforce; it quickly blossomed into a national movement, with programs in major cities throughout the U.S.
Women who are navigating challenging mid-life transitions like a health scare, divorce, sudden loss of a partner, and financial instability (a large and growing market as we’re all living longer), have benefitted most from our high-tech, high-touch career reentry prep programs.
Running ReBoot these past two years has rewarded me with work and a life that feels richer than ever before.
A team of passionate, dedicated, and talented women made this happen. Friends I’ve known for 30-plus years rallied to create what is now our next stage mission—catalyzing other women for a comeback. We’ve collaborated each day around issues that matter dearly to us, and few things have provided greater fulfillment.
What have I learned since my comeback?
- Each day is precious and must be seized.
- One must proactively make the time to do what matters…
- And say no to that which doesn’t.
- As I age, ego gives way to purpose, and having social impact becomes all-important.
- Taking time for reflection and listening to the still voice within keeps me on the right path.
- The meaningful life has equal bits of pleasure, personal “flow” time, and making other people’s lives better.
Diane Flynn is Co-Founder and CEO of ReBoot Accel. ReBoot Accel gets women current, connected, and confident to return to work. Now offered in Silicon Valley, Chicago, Seattle, NY, and LA, ReBoot programs will be opening in 5 additional cities in 2017. 500 women have participated in our program, and 82% of those seeking have landed meaningful work.
Accelerators offer an intensive experience to get women ready for reinvention through hands-on learning of current tech, workplace and career skills. ReBoot Connect, a monthly membership club available in cities throughout the US, offers ongoing learning with like-minded women in seminars and workshops.