Submitted by Sara B. Hart, PhD
President, Hartcom

The moment when you are no longer considered a “professional woman” can be a troubling change in your life. What does this even mean? It is a designation by our society for the day after we stop working outside the home. Does that happen to a man? I don’t think in the same way. I don’t think we ever refer to a man who has stopped working as no longer a professional man. But for a woman, to stop working is a major change of identify as seen by our culture, and, therefore, often, by us.

For those of you who have been a “professional woman” for most or all your adult life, how does it feel to stop being one of those? For some I think “terrifying” is not too strong a word. If you’re not a professional woman, what are you? You may be a mother or a wife or a sister. But that’s never been all you are.  A large part of who and what you have been a professional woman. And now you are not, or perhaps soon you won’t be.

What’s Next?

For all of you professional women who are facing this dilemma, what can you do If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a very rich woman, but here are two suggestions for now:

If you don’t currently have a meditation practice, get one. There are many places you can go to learn a meditation technique of your choice. Just Google “meditation.”

Why do I think this is so important? The best information available to you about “what’s next?” isn’t outside of you waiting to get in. It’s inside you waiting to be listened to.

Sit down with a pencil and paper (don’t do this on your laptop) and write down all the things you’ve done well over the years starting with when you were a little girl. Don’t leave anything out no matter how insignificant it seems to you at this point in time.

Hopefully, this list will help you see that you’re not just a great marketing executive or sales representative or teacher or assistant or doctor or whatever. You’re a multifaceted, amazing woman with an incredible collection of skills and experiences!

And here is the really important thing right now. . . you’re at a point in your life when YOU can decide which of all those gifts you WANT to hone and take into the world in whatever way would be meaningful to you at this point in your life. At 55 (or beyond) you very possibly have a good 30 years to do what will give you a deep sense of satisfaction and be immeasurably important to others.