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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Second Act Resolutions

Among the zillions of articles and posts dedicated to 2016 New Year’s resolutions was this one on, the website dedicated to the Boomer + crowd (Full disclosure: I’ve been published on this site).

“5 New Year’s Resolutions for Older Adults”—written by Bruce Rosenstein and inspired by the writings of Peter Drucker—makes much use of the term “second act,” which often refers to our post-middle-age-but-not-quite-hanging-by-a-thread years, a time to still be creative in our professional and personal lives.

Rosenstein wants us to consider these resolutions as fit for our “entire future, not just a single year.” As such, we may construe them as practices that will lead to specific goals over many years, not just this one.

Of the five, three inspire journal writing exercises that might help us stay focused on these resolutions.  They are:

1. I resolve to embrace uncertainty rather than avoid it.

To do this, Rosenstein recommends, among other practices, seeking out role models. I enthusiastically concur; we do not have to reinvent the wheel when venturing forth into the uncertainty that establishing new goals often include.

In addition to finding these models—among friends and family; in our workplace or community; in some aspect of public life; even in literature and movies—I recommend doing a bit of analysis about why this person might be worth emulating.

For instance, as a journal writing exercise, you might describe what special personality traits/characteristics this person has that you might need for your own launch into new territory.

4. I resolve to remove and improve.

This one is interesting, and probably necessary. Rosenstein tells us we have to unplug from certain things, including relationships, as we make our way into the future.

His suggestion—“to make a list of what and who you can live without”—can be used for another journal writing exercise, though I wouldn’t stop there. As a common journaling technique, the list can lead us to several other writing exercises, including this one:

Do a reflective exercise in response to your “letting go” list, using the prompt “What I notice about this list is….” Keep using that prompt until you feel you’ve discovered in the writing certain patterns that your list reveals to you.

5. I resolve to make friends with risk.

Well who among us hasn’t done this earlier in our lives?  By the time we’re 50+, we’ve certainly taken our share of risks in the usual places: love, work, travel, moves, and in our relationships with family and friends. 

For this journal exercise, start with a list of your life risks, then pick just one—one that worked out—and tell the story of that risk. When and where was it? Who was involved? What happened? And maybe most important: what was at stake?

In the writing, see if you can discover what taking this risk taught you about yourself, your life, your values. What lessons from that risk can be useful when attempting future risks?

Please do enjoy these exercises—and if any of my readers are inclined to share some of what they discover in the process, please contact me at


To read Rosenstein’s entire article, click here:


To read one of my published pieces on, click on the journaling link in Rosenstein’s resolve #3. In it, you’ll find more details about the journal writing suggestions listed above.

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