Walking Guide
Walking Guide

Motivation Articles

Empty Nesters Find Purpose and Motivation

The Action Step Guide Once the Children Leave

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.
Networking It is always important to build and maintain your social networks, especially when you are contemplating a career change. Your existing social networks can be invaluable in helping you during this process. Do you have friends, family or acquaintances who have been through similar transitions, or who might know about the fields you are considering? Perhaps they know someone who does. 

Action Steps:
  1. Nurture your existing network. Schedule a get-together with one friend or acquaintance per week. It’s a great way to keep in touch and it will give you a chance to talk about what you are working on and learn about other people’s experiences.
  2. Expand your social networks. Look into local networking and volunteer opportunities, as well as membership in professional organizations related to your fields of interest. Join online networking communities, such as Ryze.com and Company of Friends, which offer free membership, special interest groups and real-life monthly meetings.
By taking inventory of your many existing resources and building new ones, you will be better prepared for any career path you choose. Now that you have time to focus on yourself, you have a great opportunity for self-discovery. Enjoy the journey!

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

Member Comments

    retired. had plans...they fell through. stay busy volunteering, reading, and exercising, rearranging.
  • I am retiring in less than 5 months. I have no children but I am planning to volunteer for charities I don't have time for when working full time.
  • Need to pass this to Dearly Beloved. He was forceably retired 5 years ago. At the time he had three hobbies-reading, sleeping and hating work. Now he is down to reading and sleeping. I no longer do the 8-5 but have been busy trying to get to everything I put aside for lack of time while working. Good process for anyone making a change.
  • I retired 6 years ago to care for my mother. Now that she has passed, my goal is to improve my health & then see what I would like to do for travel money.
  • I have been in an office job for nearly 35 years. I would love to do something else, but my family depends on me and this job for health insurance. The cost of health insurance is so high that I feel stuck here. I would love to be able to switch to a career that would nourish my soul.
  • At 62 I'm now taking care of my folks to some extent. Taking them shopping and to the doctors and I can't forget the Social Security Office and some other places of adventure as that. LOL! And the "Golden Years" are where, again?
    My empty nest means having more time to focus on my dogs. I have no interest in a career, change or otherwise, or volunteering, all of the hassle, none of the pay.
  • yes career change for anyone not just empty nesters. I worked in bedside infirmary care for 8 years. Not my calling. Turns out I am not very good at direct care and I don't have the patience. What is next for me @ 40ish without taking out student loans at my age? Is it really worth going on to my NP?
    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.
    After 20 years in non profit management, i am now entering the hospitality industry...so looking forward to starting a new career track.
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.