If your life was a best seller, how would it read?

by Britt Aamodt
Contributing writer

In her late 30s Victoria Raphael traveled to Mexico. She wasn’t jetting to Cancun for a week of surf and sand. She planned to reside south of the border, temporarily, but long enough to compel her to come to terms with a different culture, language and way of doing things.

She says her international adventure, one of many she’s undertaken in her life, was a good primer for what came later. The “later” was 2009, when she decided to leave a steady job at Capella University in Minneapolis and try her hand at something new.

But the employment situation of 2009, right in the heart of the recession, was a world apart from the one she’d known in her 20s.

Back then, Raphael says, “You got a job with a good company. You stayed there 30 years and you retired. I have an auntie in her 90s who still thinks that’s the way the world works. It doesn’t.”

How to get a job and even what kind of job to look for has altered. Steady employment, company employment, pensions and benefit packages still exist but alongside a new reality of cross-training, multiple jobs, contract work and self-financed health insurance.

To anyone confronting the cultural divide between the old and new model of employment, Raphael says, “You are entitled to a second chance.”

That’s the title of her Tuesday, Jan. 24 workshop, sponsored by ISD 728 Community Education for its Out of Work series. The free workshop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Handke Center in Elk River, with a social hour beginning a half-hour before.

At Capella University, Raphael counseled Ph.D. candidates. Two years later, she teaches at Metro State University and meets clients as a certified life coach, the Global Living Coach.

She has two jobs, both of them defined by her passions — teaching and training. But more importantly, she has engineered this career change in her middle years, when by the timeline set up under the old system, she should’ve been hitting the top rungs of the corporate ladder and thinking ahead to retirement.

“What I say in coaching, when I’m working with boomers, is that this is the sequel to your youth. The sequel is going to be even better than the first. It’s going to be a best seller,” she says.

Raphael made a conscious decision to abandon the safety net of a corporate career and start over. Many people now facing long-term unemployment did not. But she says the same opportunity is there to debunk the myth that the only time to set goals and follow dreams when you’re young.

A job loss or career dead-end isn’t game over. It’s an invitation to re-vision a better plan.

In the workshop, Raphael will teach the four steps she used to write the script for her own second act after unemployment. She’ll also engage participants in “powerful questioning.”

“Coaches do not give advice or provide answers. We ask powerful questions and listen. That’s where the clients in responding come up with their own answers,” she says.

Some common questions: Why can’t you establish a new career after 50? Who says you can only be successful at something if you start early? Who says you have to settle?

“At Capella, a 79-year-old man called and said he wanted to get his Ph.D. He told me, ‘It’ll take a few years to get this done but then I want to teach,’” Raphael remembers. “He inspired me.”

She filed away another story about an 89-year-old high school English teacher, beloved by students and loving every minute of a job at an age when many peers had long since packed away careers.

“Some people feel defeated when they lose a job. ‘Hey, I’m older, who wants me?’” says Raphael.

“But it’s about attitude. If you’re 50, you can still have 30 or 40 years ahead of you.”

So, instead of thinking, “I’m too old for that,” think: “OK, if my life were a best seller, what would I do next?”

If you go:
Out of Work Series
Jan. 17 Living on Less: Twenty ways to save more and spend less
Jan. 24 You Are Entitled to a Second Chance
Feb. 21 Networking & the Hidden Job Market
Feb. 28 Discover Your Value
Where: Handke Center, room 111, door 4. The Handke Center is located at 1170 Main St., Elk River.
6:00-6:30 p.m. gathering and networking
6:30–7:30 p.m. program
All programs are free and open to the public.
Sponsored by ISD 728 Community Education