Motivation Articles

Empty Nesters Find Purpose and Motivation

The Action Step Guide Once the Children Leave

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What will you do with your time once your children leave the nest? You may not have thought about it, but a new career path could be your best option. The years of parenting are spent focusing on other people’s needs, often with little time for self-reflection. Career exploration is a wonderful opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth. It is a time to reinvest in you and learn about the resources available to you.

Here are a few exercises to get you thinking about what you have to offer and ways you can expand your options.

Career Interests
Over time you have developed opinions as to what you are "good at." These personal opinions are relevant but rarely do we give ourselves enough credit. It is time you think outside the box. Think about the activities and job categories that interest you, regardless of whether or not you currently have the skills, or even have experience in those areas. Write down your responses to the following questions:

Action Steps:
  1. If you could do ANYTHING, what would you do?
  2. What are the characteristics of your ideal job? Examples - working with children, being outdoors, independence, etc.
Skills Inventory
It is helpful to take inventory of the skills you have that will be useful across a variety of work settings. Think about all the invaluable experience you have accumulated – parenting is itself a highly-skilled "career."
Personal traits – attitudes and characteristics such as empathy, diplomacy and ability to delegate.
Knowledge-based – technical knowledge or job-specific information that you have acquired through paid and non-paid experiences, such as bookkeeping, child development and scheduling.
Transferable skills – skills that you’ve acquired through experience, such as planning, organizing and writing.

Action Steps:
  1. List 7 achievements you have experienced in the past few years in the context of parenting, work, volunteering, hobbies, coursework, travel, or special projects. For each achievement, list the skills, abilities and personal traits that were most important in making each of the experiences meaningful for you.
  2. Once you have completed this list, look for patterns in terms of skills, settings, or types of people involved. Continued ›
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About The Author

Mary Guarino, Ph.D. Mary Guarino, Ph.D.
Mary Guarino is a life coach who helps people evaluate and improve their lives and relationships. She holds a doctorate in lifespan developmental psychology and a coaching certificate from the Institute for Life Coaching.

Member Comments

  • MEMEJO
    Hi I am a 61 yr old woman who has been taking care of every one it seems since I was 15 . Soon I will be at a point where I can do something for myself as soon as my 5 yr.old grand daughter that I care for 5 days a week starts school in September.And I don't have any idea what to do .I am an Artisan,and Crafter but I don't have any other formal training
    so how can I get motivated to do nothing thats what the old fart I live with who just retired from his job does. - 5/26/2012 8:38:21 AM
  • BZEANPRNCS
    After 20 years in non profit management, i am now entering the hospitality industry...so looking forward to starting a new career track. - 8/23/2011 6:36:48 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    In this economy, it might not be so easy to switch careers, but for ANYONE - empty nester or not, an option to fill those empty hours is volunteering. Because charitable organizations depend on donations - which are dwindling in many cases - they rely even more on volunteers to fill in when they need to downsize.

    You can use your life skills in many different organizations. I work in the front office of a local non-profit using my office & computer skills. Some friends volunteer in schools, as mentors/tutors, in the school library, etc. Others teach ESL, or help with adult literacy programs, or volunteer at the local animal shelter.

    This work is very fulfililng, and can be a bridge between a current career and a new one. - 8/23/2011 1:01:35 PM
  • Since my children left home, I've gotten into the best shape of my life. I also changed careers from an accountant to a personal trainer at age 58. - 7/1/2010 12:11:47 AM
  • I'm going to be retiring within the next 12 months...WHOOHOO, but I know I need to channel my energies elsewhere...this was a good article to start the mindset process.
    Thanks.
    Lorraine - 9/6/2008 7:12:24 PM
  • I almost skipped reading this because I thought it was going to focus on empty nesters and motivation for healthy lifestyle; didn't think it would really apply to me. I'm about to turn 37, single and no kids, but I too am looking into different careers. Glad I decided to read this! - 5/12/2008 11:07:45 AM
  • Another potential alternate title could be For Empty Nesters-Whether You Have Kids Or Not. - 4/3/2008 3:44:38 PM
  • Great article. - 3/23/2008 5:44:13 PM
  • This wonderful article should be titled "career change". This is for anyone of any age. - 3/9/2008 1:26:50 AM