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Second Acts : Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-12-05
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Second Acts is a guide to reinventing your life. Whether you wish to change careers, move to a more desirable part of the country, start a business, write a novel, or drop everything to pursue a life dream, Stephen Pollan offers a powerful message ofhope and guidance that has benefited his own clients. Through a series of exercises, you will develop a comprehensive "script" for your second act¿a step-by-step action plan that will lead you to the life you've always wanted.

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Second Acts
Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire

Chapter One

You Can Lead the Life of Your Dreams

"There are no second acts in American lives."

-- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was wrong. You can have a Second Act. You can lead the life you've always wished no matter your age or stage in life.

The dream you think has become impossible with advancing age, new obligations, or increased responsibility can be made real. The hope you've been deferring until a time when the stars are in perfect alignment can be fulfilled today. The goal you think out of reach because you've traveled an alternate path is still within your grasp.

You can give up your job as a stockbroker and pursue your youthful dream of becoming a professional photographer.

You can jump off the fast track and have a child, even though you're not married and have no intention of marrying.

You can pack up your family and move from the suburbs to the country, giving up your harried lifestyle for a more idyllic one.

You can leave a deadening retirement behind and go back to college to study art history.

You can give up having a business career and instead stay home to care for your children.

You can launch a business now, despite not having paid the dues the pundits demand.

You have an opportunity, not just to reinvent yourself, but to become your true self; to give expression to your suppressed hopes and dreams; to take the seed you've kept dormant in the dark within you, expose it to warmth and light, and let it burst forth into life.

Almost all of us have buried personal hopes and dreams. In order to please our parents, our friends, our spouses, our teachers, and our employers, we've molded our lives into what we think the outside world wants us to be.

To win and keep our parents' love, we've acted in certain ways and followed certain paths. We've become lawyers because they wanted us to be professionals. We married and had children because they wanted us to give them grandchildren. We lived a certain lifestyle, or lived in a certain place, because we knew it would gain their approval.

To become accepted, first by our friends, and then society at large, we have adopted certain attitudes and behaviors. Children work hard to fit into their peer group, adopting informal uniforms and language and habits that mark them as part of the pack. We never really left that desire to fit in behind as we grew older. We measured ourselves against our friends and peers. A teenager in the suburbs needs a car. A single twenty-something male in the city needs a thin girlfriend. A married thirty-something woman needs a baby. A senior needs successful grandchildren.

We've allowed the outside world to draw up schedules and checklists for us against which we judge our own worth. Haven't gotten married by thirty-five? Hopeless. Not earning $100,000 by forty? Loser. Haven't retired early and moved to the sunbelt? Failure.

Comparing ourselves to these external standards often brings misery and self hatred: Either we despise ourselves for not measuring up, or we despise ourselves for not being true to our own selves.

Good news. There's never been a better time to revolt against external standards and to be true to yourself. We're living in a transitionary time. Society, culture, and the economy are all shifting from the values of the past to new values, not yet fully formed. In this interregnum the old rules have lost most of their power, and new, potentially oppressive external standards haven't yet taken hold. As British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said of our time: "This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are all in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do so, let us reorder this world around us." An opportunity like this doesn't come along in every lifetime. It comes, at most, once a century. We're lucky enough to be alive at this moment when anything is possible, at the moment perfect for Second Acts.

We're also lucky enough to be living in the United States of America. At the risk of sounding jingoistic, America is the land of Second Acts. Throughout our history people have come to these shores for just that purpose. Whether they were fleeing persecution, famine, war, genocide, oppression, or poverty, people from every corner of the world have come to America to reinvent themselves. The streets may not be paved with gold, but this is the land of milk and honey and opportunity. In America, you are not limited by your race, religion, color, gender, size, strength, appearance, language, or sexual orientation. Your only limits are self imposed.

You can have a Second Act. It doesn't matter if you're widowed, seventy years old and living on a fixed income. It doesn't matter if you've two kids in college and thousands of dollars in credit card debt. It doesn't matter if you're a workaholic professional, or a unemployed manager, or a burned out stockbroker, or a harried stay-at-home mom. I have helped all these people launch Second Acts. I can help you too.

Looking to live out a creative dream? We've been socialized to believe creative endeavors must come from the young and struggling. Youthful artistic success gains far more attention than mature work. The dark and dingy loft is thought to be the only place from which inspiration can spring. Yet for every Rimbaud bursting onto and off the scene like a comet, there's a Wallace Stevens. For every Basquiat, there's a Grandma Moses. And, for every Kerouac typing wildly in a railroad flat, there's a Pynchon living comfortably in suburbia. The notion that the youth culture is the only artistic culture is nonsense. Inspiration can be drawn from every stage in life and from every economic circumstance.

Second Acts
Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire
. Copyright © by Stephen Pollan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire by Stephen M. Pollan, Mark Levine
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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