Reinvention holds enormous appeal for Baby Boomers like us. Who isn't eager to try something new? Who doesn't have a dream they'd love to bring to life? Who doesn't want to be part of a world-changing venture?
In an op-ed article for The New York Times, the paper's long-time, Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist William Safire announced that his column was officially at an end. But he wasn't giving up on work -- in fact, he advised against it. "Never retire," he wrote. Instead, he recommended doing something new. "Change your career to keep your synapses snapping." (Safire became chairman of the Dana Foundation, which supports research in neuroscience and brain disorders.)
As my loyal readers know, I've been writing about my new book, "RIPE" (about rich, rewarding work after 50). I call Ripe pioneers who set out in a new direction "Pathfinders." They're the ones everyone talks about -- they leave what they know behind and set off on a great adventure. And there's a delicious -- and growing -- range of examples popping up all over the world.
There are Pathfinders whose work clearly builds on what has come before. Like Maureen Taylor, 51, who spent 25 years covering medical issues for television news and then, in 2010, became one of the world's first physician assistants (a new position created to fit between an M.D. and a nurse practitioner). Or Albie Sachs, 75, the African National Congress activist and author who was named to South Africa's Constitutional Court, and whose cases have established global precedent.
Of course, the most surprising Pathfinders -- those who take our breath away -- are the ones who begin to do the thing they've always longed for. Sometimes, the dream has endured for a lifetime. At 64, after a career in banking, Joel Orner told himself, "It's now or never." He enrolled in culinary school and, four years later, is chef at the Los Angeles Yacht Club. Sometimes, it's a more recent -- but equally powerful -- pursuit. After trying for years to get an invitation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, but receiving no reply, French businesswoman Aude Zieseniss de Thuin, 60, decided to create her own parallel event instead, and established the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society.
We've all seen examples of Pathfinders whose new careers seem to come out of the blue. Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle immediately comes to mind, but there's also Marla Ginsburg. A successful television producer (credits include "La Femme Nikita" and "Highlander"), Ginsburg discovered that, at 50, no one would take her call. She has since reinvented herself as a designer and is now the creative director of a company that makes jeans for women d'un certain age, FDJ French Dressing. As she told Businessweek, "Whoever thought that getting older could be a career?"
In fact, it's happening in my own backyard. Literally. As I type, two Pathfinders are working in my garden. Jennifer Tibbitt and Joseph Desjardins fled the corporate world to become urban gardeners. They cycle between jobs and are happier and healthier than ever. And my little piece of property has never looked better. In a word, it's ripe.
Are you over 50 and ripe for change? Are you feeling at the top of your game? Are you finding that the world wants you to go away? Share your story with us below or feel free to email me via my website.
"RIPE" is here! This spring, I'm writing about "RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50," a 12-week course on discovering passion, purpose and possibility at midlife. Check out the video (a.k.a. book trailer!):
Be part of the "RIPE" community on HuffPost, Facebook and Twitter. Together, we are going to change this phase of life!
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