The Nest Is Empty, What Do I Do Next?

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In the past few weeks, three friends have asked me this, “What am I going to do when the kids leave the nest?” These friends are nothing alike.  They live in different towns, have unique career paths and varied marital status. But what they do have in common is that they are over 50, want to feel valued and do something that makes them happy.

So they posed the question and while I cannot answer it for them, I can provide some guidelines on how you can determine your next path.

When have you been at the top of your game?  What situations bring out the best in you? When do you hear yourself saying, “I GOT THIS!” and really mean it.

Think of a situation when you knew your performance was really good and others recognized you for it.  It could be that you were an amazing editor when your friends came to you for help writing emails to their colleagues. Or maybe you spoke at a meeting and were complimented for expressing your point of view. Have you worked on an auction committee and were successful at soliciting gifts? You could have a career in sales.

Whatever the behavior is that you do well, think about how much you like it. If you enjoy doing the activities you have been recognized for,  go one step further and ask yourself this question:

What values are important to me right now? What was important to you in your 20s is not the same as what is important to you today. Here are some values to think about. Have fun ranking them in order of priority and then pick your top 3. And if there is an important value missing from this list then add it!






-Financial security


-Making a difference





So now that you have a better sense of what you do well and what you like doing, marry these ideas with the three chosen values from the above list. Still somewhat lost? Get together with friends and brainstorm (Another good way to stay occupied when the nest is empty is to get together with friends.) You will come out of the session with new ideas about volunteer or paid work that reflects both your strengths and values.

Once you find your sweet spot and put your passion into play,  you will be so busy that you may even forget once in awhile that anyone has left the nest.

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