By Caroline MacNeill Hall

Repurpose Your Mastery for a Rich Next Chapter

The older I get, the more scattered I am. But when I’m leading a workshop (which is what I do for a living), I’m better than ever. This is why it’s so imp0rtant to always have an arena where you can apply your wisdom and experience.

Let me expand: In my personal life, I have a vast To Do list, much of which falls through the cracks. I was a whiz at multi-tasking as a young mother; now, not at all. I’m distracted by the Internet and pretty much everything else, I forget crossword puzzle clues and my sons’ names—not to mention that the iphone I can’t find is in my hand.

At work, though, I have everything I ever had and more. I learn all the participants’ names in the first 20 minutes. I know my material and have fresh insights galore. At work I’m an elder, not a dotty ditherer.

caroline presentingThe thing I fear most about retiring (which I never plan to do in the traditional sense) is that I will lose the domain where I still have mastery and all my marbles. Then I’ll sit around laboring over even the Monday NYT crossword puzzle. (What’s the “D” stand for in FDR? Uh, dirt? diamonds? delinquency? Days later my brain might deliver “Delano”…then again, it might not.)

The message here: Don’t give up what you’re great at.

That may involve keeping your hand in your old career. I can always lead a leadership workshop now and then. My father ran a stock brokerage firm; after retiring, he still managed money and his children clamored for advice. It may also involve transferring your expertise and experience to new domains, such as mentoring younger leaders in your field, starting a small business or non-profit, or volunteering your skills to support a passionate cause or two.

I imagine that many executives will want to spend the first few months after retiring on recreational pursuits. That sounds lovely. But before too long, it’s time to re-purpose your mastery in addition to fun and games. For many of us, in fact, using ourselves well is the ultimate in fun and games.

Repurposing your mastery takes some thought and some planning, and it’s useful to begin thinking this through before your company celebrates your illustrious career at your gold-watch dinner. That’s the end of a chapter, for sure. But the next chapter could be even better if you find new ways to use your considerable strengths, talents, and capabilities. Let the genius continue!

Join us at LifeReinspired to chart your next chapter in life. Find out more about our workshops and programs.


Caroline MacNeill Hall is Co-Founder of Life Reinspired, a reset lab for successful Baby Boomers contemplating a meaningful next chapter of life. She is President of MAC Advisors, an executive coaching and leadership development company. She’s also senior faculty for the Coaches Training Institute.