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Retirement Never Looked So Good

Retirement Never Looked So Good
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Photo Courtesy of United Airlines February edition of Rhapsody Magazine

BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

Cindy Crawford is turning 50 and she’s done. According to an interview, “I can’t keep reinventing myself. I shouldn’t have to keep proving myself. I don’t want to.”

Oh Cin, I feel ya.

It’s one thing when you want (the operative word) to reinvent yourself because you’d love a change, have a desire to flex different muscles, or show off a skill thats light has been hiding under a bushel.

It’s another when you have to (the operative words) change what you’re doing or who you are – in that I’m dancing as fast as I can way – in order to stay relevant.

Now, we all have to do it to some extent with technology always upgrading or when we get a new boss or client, who has their own systems. But the supermodel with the famous mole is talking about constantly accomplishing things and still having people ask, “What else can you do?” Cindy C. was one of the most celebrated models of the ‘80s and ‘90s, hosted MTV’s House of Style, tried acting (once along side a Baldwin brother), designed furniture for Raymour & Flanigan, made exercise videos, and most recently authored a book.

Another time and place I would have thought, “Wow, that Cindy is sure multi-talented.” Currently, I think she just must be exhausted. That’s how it feels when no matter how much experience you gain, you’re never enough. The constant pressure to appear new turns someone who is an expert in their original field (her case modeling for fashion and cosmetics) into a jack of all trades, master of none.

I think of myself as lucky that when my “reinvention” came about I was able to keep my title of writer. I’ve been an essayist for newspapers, magazines and websites now for a decade. Before that I spent two decades as an advertising copywriter — staff and freelance.

After the crash – quite frankly, even a little before that – clients dried up because they lost business and contacts disappeared, as they lost their jobs and started calling me to find out where the freelance was. To fill the void, I began writing my first published novel, and took a stab at writing a first person account for my local newspaper, which developed into a second career.

Yet, even with “10 thousand hours” racked up in two different industries, not to mention the management, fundraising, merchandising, and sales skills I developed during twenty years worth of volunteer work, there are still potential employers who look at me skeptically and wonder if I’ve really demonstrated myself enough in the area with which they’re looking for a writer’s help. To paraphrase Cindy, How old do you have to be before you can stop proving that you know how to do what you know how to do?

Unlike the former covergirl though, some of us just can’t choose to stop making money when we get fed up.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about another reinvention — a third act, if you will; one that does not involve the written word. I’m fascinated by the business of consignment, buying and selling designer clothing and accessories. I’m interested in becoming educated in how to verify originals and telling the difference between those and fakes, as well as pricing pre-owned items. The thing that makes me hesitate about trying to get my foot in the door isn’t that I’d have a lot to learn, but that people may not consider any of my other skills – cultivated over decades – transferable. I really can’t abide the idea of being treated as though I know nothing.

There may be hope though. The @Work section of the New York Post just ran an article about how companies are now bypassing the resume in favor of a series of get-to-know-you meetings followed by a project to see job candidates in action.

I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. But if companies change the game of how people get hired, maybe it will change the odds for the better of getting a job.

 

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Lorraine Duffy Merkl
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels BACK TO WORK SHE GOES and FAT CHICK, for which a movie version is in the works.