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A Reinvention Exercise for You

April '12

Do you have your own version of this particular cry for help,”Don’t you have anything I can do – just anything – to help me move forward here?” There are, of course, many answers to that basic query of how to start constructing a new life for yourself. In fact, in a few months, I plan to launch a whole program for responding to just that question.

In the meantime, however, I recently came across a great life-transition exercise Nancy Schlossberg designed for folks heading into retirement. With some revision I think it’s perfect for women who feel stuck at the midlife crossroads. What follows is her exercise that I adapted for women at midlife. If you’re feeling immobilized and clueless about what’s next in your life, it may be for you.

This exercise requires that you design a series of business cards for that new life you’re hoping to create. Sure! You may not have a clue as to what that might be, but you can simply jot down any ideas you may have on a scrap of paper, or your lap-top, in a free brainstorming way – no judgment, no editing – just write! The more ideas the better.

When you’re finished, take each idea you noted and turn it into a business card. I suggest purchasing a packet of those blank business cards that you use for printing real business cards. Or cut a few 3/5 cards in half. Have a good time with this part of the exercise; play with logos, colors, scripts, and decorate to your heart’s content by hand, or on your computer. While many of your cards may represent future job or professional possibilities, don’t forget family and avocational prospects like a card for an Adventurous Aunt, or a Beginning Baker.

I guarantee that you will remember your ideas far more readily than if they passed though your mind sporadically. Writing not only helps commit your ideas to memory, but also enables you to clarify these ideas. And you will have set things in motion by your very attention to these possibilities.

When complete, spread out your cards on a table top. Then, pick them up one at a time, examining each carefully, as you stack one on top of another. Once stacked, tuck these Possibility Cards away. After a week or two, bring them out and sort through them. Observe which ones engage your attention. Do you notice that some are fading a bit? Attend to those that grab your interest, because as you move forward, the successful path will be the one that calls on your passions.

If you dive into this exercise, I’d love to hear about your experience – especially since it’s a new one for me. Your perspective is unique, so your comments will be invaluable – whether positive or negative. And if you’d like more exercises like this one, do let me know!




  1. alicE said on April 30, 2012:

    Hi Bonnie,
    There’s a card game that people play with this sort of thing too, it had to do with end of life issues……Sarah got it in CA from a friend and we used it in a class…….

  2. Bonnie said on April 30, 2012:

    Hi Alice!
    That card game sounds interesting. I’d love to check it out to see if it might work for the midlife transition.

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