Baby boomers: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy

If as a baby boomer you’re not living at least a second act, if not a third, fourth, maybe even beyond that, you probably haven’t lived. But the question is, how do you get unstuck from the last act and move into the next? That’s what clinical psychologist Dr. Ben Michaelis writes about in his new book, Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy. If you’re at a crossroads, it might be worth reading this excerpt:

For anyone acquainted with the theater, it’s the second act where all the real action happens. The first act of a play establishes the characters and setting for the story, but it is in the second act that the players aredeveloped and the plot reaches its climax and culmination.

Ben Michaelis

Dr. Ben Michaelis

Many people spend the first act of life establishing themselves and taking care of others, but when thetime comes for Act II they may feel unsure of how to continue their personal development. With a little effort, any second act can look and feel any way you want it to-– invigorating, exciting, and stimulating.

We all have within us the capacity and need to create. Deciding to develop this creative “muscle” is what makes the difference. When you create something and share it you make a connection that is deep and discover a profound sense of fulfillment.

Using your second act in life to create and share allows you to:

  • Develop meaning in your life through actively translating ideas into reality
  • Discover your creative language
  • Make connections through expressing yourself with others

For some, using imagination comes naturally. For others, who may not think of themselves as “creative,” it may be more challenging to create a second act. Here are some simple tips to help get your creative muscles stretching:

Tip #1: Start with what you Know

Ben_Michaelis bookWhen people leave the working world behind they often try to avoid thinking about their years on the job. Most people feel that they have put in their time and they are done with that part of life. However, after you’ve had some distance from it, you may want to consider how you can use those years on the job to create something. The years you spent in your career make you an expert and give you a measure of mastery and perspectivethat others don’t have. It is no accident that people that have had years of experiences in a field are often the innovators for the next generation. For example, Ray Kroc spent many of his working years selling restaurant equipment and then transformed the food industry by creating the McDonald’s empire at a time in his life when most people are thinking about slowing down.

As you consider embarking on any type of creative project, think about your knowledge and experience from your job and see if they give you insight about how processes or products can be improved. Is there something that you can make that will revolutionize your field?

Tip #2: Start with what you Love

During the course of your career, did you ever dream of doing something fun and creative but you couldn’t because working got in the way? Now’s your chance to do what you dreamed of long ago. If you always wanted to be a dancer or a singer, you don’t have to be a professional to let this part of you grow. Consider ways of getting involved in your community through volunteering. Perhaps you can start a group for your peers who share your interests. Alternatively, consider teaching what you love to children to inspire them with your passion and influence their future.

Tip #3: Consider your Hobbies

Another path towards creating is using your hobbies. Whatever your diversions are— tennis, stamp collecting, writing etc.— you can use them to express your creative voice with others. If reading is a passion, how about volunteering to read to children or working in an adult literacy program? Giving of yourself to others through something you love is an act of love and brings meaning to your life and those you touch.

Engaging the world in these ways can help your mind and spirit and enrich the lives of those around you. Here is to your Second Act!

Follow Dr. Ben Michaelis online.



  1. Good advice! But, I would dispute the first point. I wasn’t able to start with what I knew–law. There was no way to do that part-time and I was burned out. I had to be brave and go in a whole new direction. On the other hand, my brother, who had a career as a fund raiser for non profits, retired and is happy doing the same thing on a consulting basis. To each her own 😉

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