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I’m sitting looking out on the white soft sand of Crescent Beach in Siesta Key and savoring some career changing lessons.
Mom, who is 82, and I traveled here to spend a week at a place she and Dad came for years. They headed south to spend warm winter days away from the chilly Pittsburgh, PA weather. We haven’t been back for twelve years. The snowbird trips braked to a halt when Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers. He died four years ago.

And here we are overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico advancing and retreating. Last time, I walked this beach with my Dad. One day, he asked how I was doing, and I said terrible. I was miserable at work as an in-house reporter and columnist for a leading daily newspaper. It was a great job, just not for me. He simply said, “quit.” He believed in me.

I did….the next week. And I started my own business as a self-employed author, writer, blogger, speaker and expert on personal finance, retirement, and now, career transition. This week got me thinking about my personal truths of changing, staying relevant, growing, and trying new things, as I grow older. You might be able to relate.

Truth No 1: Do what you love. I followed my passion and have my dream job. Dad gave me good advice. But I now work harder than I ever did. And it doesn’t matter. I like being my own boss. This is exactly what so many of the career switchers I have interviewed over the years and for my current book told me repeatedly.

Truth No. 2.
Keep adding to your skills. The old haunts here on Siesta Key are still here and are thriving. Hallelujah. They’re serving steamed shrimp, oysters on the half shell, key lime pie….ahh…just as I remembered.

But they’ve built up, too. In each case, the core of the restaurant is the same, but they have added on outdoor decks and covered porches. The menus have been tweaked. There’s a waiting line for tables even post-peak Spring break time.The lesson here is clear. You need to continually improve what you have to offer, build on to your skill set, but never lose the core and soul of what makes you special. Remain true to your heart, but invest and grow into your future.

Truth No. 3. Not everything changes with age. That’s good to know in the fast-paced work world we all must embrace. The song can remain the same. Mom and I returned to this famous beach, rated by Conde’ Nast Magazine rate as one of the best beaches in the world, and it’s the same soft calming vibe. If anything, it’s better, as we make new memories to keep the old one’s company.

Nature inspires and conspires to remind us of the relentless regularity of life marching onward decade by decade. I stand beside a pure white seabird, about as high as my knees. I swear we walked this beach together before. His raffish patch of white feathers flings from the back of his head as he stands perfectly still with yellow-rimmed eyes flashing to and fro. Taxicab yellow webbed feet and skinny black legs are firmly set in the shifting sand. He’s keenly watchful of where his next meal is coming from, scanning the water before him, but free to fly–kind of like a freelancer.
Thanks, Dad.

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