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Life seems more unpredictable now than ever before. It feels as though the days of being in one job or one hometown or with one mate forever are mostly over—though I’m lucky enough to have parents who’ve been married for 65 years. I, on the other hand, have been married twice and have had several other long-term relationships, as well as multiple careers, though mostly in publishing.
And now I’m in my 60’s with grown sons, a life partner, and a fantastic career. But I am acutely aware that nothing lasts forever, and it will be my ability to pivot and embrace change when the time is right that will enable me to feel young and to stay engaged and relevant—and that’s not always easy.
Michael Clinton’s new book ROAR Into The Second Half Of Your Life (Atria) offers a vital roadmap for navigating the next chapter, no matter how old you are. Clinton is supremely qualified to offer advice on the subject. He was born into an impoverished Pittsburgh family who lived in a housing project, and was the first in his family to attend college. But he went on not only to become the president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines (which produces this website), but to actively engage in philanthropic causes and sit on many boards, to go back to school, to compete in marathons, and to travel the world.
He didn’t “retire” from his executive position: he “refired” and “rewired” his career, choosing to leave the corporate world while at the top of his game to write, travel, become a photographer, launch non-profits, and hone his running skills. He also made it a practice to talk to others who had opted to own their narratives—to see aging, or job loss, or illness, or restlessness, or other crises as opportunities to fulfill dreams deferred. Some he spoke with had put off answering the question “What do I want to do with my life?” well into middle age, but through introspection, counseling, journaling, and other means, were able to happily transition into entirely new careers, new locations, new relationships.
ROAR is an acronym Clinton coined, and he urges readers to “(r)eimagine yourself;” to “(o)wn who you are;” to “(a)ct on what’s next for you;” and to “(r)eassess your relationships.” For him, getting older is not about “going quietly into that good night.” Rather, it’s about being passionate about life, and about stoking the desire to create something fulfilling for one’s self, and for others.
After reading his book, which is filled with ways to slightly shift your perspective in order to enact real positive change, I wanted to sit down with him to find out more. I could have continued speaking with him for hours. Watch the video above to see our full conversation. I know I learned a lot!
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