Developing and Nurturing Your Second Act in 2021

If You're Questioning Your Career Path or Need a Change, Consider These Words of Advice

By Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP

If we’ve learned only one thing from the Pandemic Pandemonium of 2020, always have a backup plan. No matter your age or how secure your job was before the world turned upside down, the mere term “job security” may now have a new meaning in your life. And whether or not you are comfortable with that new definition is going to determine a lot as you-we all-continue to slog our way out of the COVID-19 career blues and into, well, whatever lies ahead.

So, just a quick starter question here: In that super interesting book called “My Life in Paperback” (or, if you have loftier expectations, the hardcover version), do you know the whole plot? Because if you’re like the rest of us, we haven’t even got a clue about the next scene and the inevitable plot twists that will get us through that section. But, after surviving 2020 (the year in which many might have wrongfully been focused on that final chapter, aka The Big Finish), now might be an excellent time to rethink the rest of your story.

I like to refer to this as working on your second act. You know, the one in which you actually take some time to plot out your story and perhaps plan ahead. Yes, that one! And the good news here, it might not be as hard as you think.

Here are some simple steps to get you started:

Give some serious thought to your past before you attempt to enter the future

  • Take the time to conduct a personal “life interview” with yourself and make a list of jobs or aspects of jobs that you enjoyed along with responsibilities you never want to be a part of again. Be honest. Use a mirror if you must and ask the question, “would I hire me knowing . . .?”

  • Consider all your skill sets; not just the obvious ones pointing to your past employment. The coach is never going to put you in the lineup if he doesn’t know that you can swing a bat.

"The coach is never going to put you in the lineup if he doesn’t know that you can swing a bat." - Terry

Cut yourself some slack and do some dreaming

  • Have some fun with this task but be honest and keep it real. Don’t get me wrong, I like big dreams, too. But we’re talking about a potential pivot in your career path so, no matter your current age (or what your mother always told you about reaching for the stars), there are some obvious restrictions here.

Be intentional about how you want to grow your story from here

  • Focus on your list of skills and see if anything points to one (or more) of your dreams. This may take some “connecting the dots” but at some point, you should start to see some obvious signs emerge.

  • Think about outside factors (post-COVID) regarding your new direction and if you have any transferable skills that match that industry's new reality.

  • Look at your current professional network and don’t be afraid to phone a friend! Everyone gets lost at some point and now is the time to ask for guidance, referrals, and direction.

Take the leap!

  • Do the swivel or the pivot. Heck, call it whatever you want. Whether you are forced into this life change or have the luxury of making this decision on your own terms, just make sure you take a step back before you try to leap too far forward all at one time, especially if your safety net is narrow. When considering any kind of a second act or side hustle, it’s important to prepare for whatever changes lie ahead and manage those expectations.


Meet the Author:

Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP, has been working meeting magic as a professional planner for many years, but her side hustle and alter ego is that of a writer. So, when she’s not working on-site somewhere in the world with corporate or incentive clients, you can find her tapping away at the keyboard where she creates entertaining stories about her travels and industry insights. You can find those amusing posts as well as some of her featured magazine articles on her website at Additionally, while convention business came to a halt during last year’s shutdown, Terry gathered a collection of some pretty great true stories of what goes on behind the sometimes chaotic scenes of meetings and special events and is about to release a book called, appropriately, Meetings Mayhem! Please subscribe to her blog for updates about that book release.


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