I thought my career was over.

I thought it might be the end. Fortunately, it was a new beginning. Photo by Arjunsyah on Unsplash

My employer called it a “reorganization.” I was “laid off.”

Let’s cut through the you-know-what. If this was a reorganization why was I the only one reorganized? Truth: I was fired, canned, dismissed, pink-slipped and given the big heave-ho, we’re letting you go. Good luck.

“Don’t take it personally,” I was told when informed of the news on a Friday afternoon. “It happens to everyone.”

Not quite but data makes a shocking point if you’re over 50.

A government study shows 56% of Americans are pushed out of a job, one way or another, after age 50. …


Go!

Legendary high school track and football coach Wayne Steffenhagen challenged young men. Photomontage: M.M. O’Keefe.

My tightly laced Nikes toed the starting line on our high school's indoor track as I readied myself to run 600 yards. “GO,” the coach shouted in a commanding voice that scared and motivated me at the same time.

Like so many high school coaches who endure long hours and low pay to inspire kids, Wayne Steffenhagen had a vision for me I could barely imagine. These unsung and often unappreciated heroes teach insecure teenage kids in thousands of educational sports settings that belief combined with hard work can make them winners in the race called life.

A coach’s words…


The apostle of Ireland experienced suffering

Altered photo of a stained glass window portraying St. Patrick. Source: Wikimedia.

There are similarities to the challenging life of the real St. Patrick and the life you have endured during this global pandemic.

Let’s look at three:

1. Disruption

Your life was suddenly and unpredictably disrupted, with much of your freedom taken away.

The life of St. Patrick, then known by his given name Succat, was suddenly and unpredictably disrupted at age 16 when he was captured by Irish pirates, who didn’t just take away his freedom. They enslaved him.

2. Confinement

You were confined to your home and ordered to practice social distancing.

St. Patrick was confined to the slopes of Mount Slemish in…


Jane: Nice job! I clapped.

If I can be so bold as to give some writing advice, it's that I think this sentence is what your story is about at its core. It should be in your headline, intro and "nut graf" so readers know what they're getting to make an informed decision on whether to read it or skip it.

Saving the best stuff works with suspenseful endings to a "narrative" but doesn't work so well with analysis or advice stories.


10 artful lessons from Michelangelo

Michelangelo, called “The Divine One,” never retired and worked until his death at 88. Stock photo: Canva.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is considered the greatest Christian artist in history, bringing characters and scenes from the Bible to awe-inspiring life for millions of people over five centuries.

If you have ever been to Italy, you know that Michelangelo carved the 17-foot-tall statue of a young and virile David. He painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel featuring the famous index finger of God extended to Adam. He sculpted the Pietà, the moving depiction of the lifeless, crucified Jesus held in his mother’s arms.

An artistic octogenarian

Most people don’t know that during an era when most people didn’t live past…


Be happier, healthier, wealthier.

Making a successful career pivot after age 50 can make you happier, healthier and wealthier than ever before. Photo by Jonas Kakaroto on Unsplash

After earning two academic degrees in journalism and bleeding newspaper ink from my veins for 25 years, I made a career pivot to digital communications.

It didn’t work out as planned. I was fired (for the first time in my life) at age 50.

It could have been the beginning of the end of a once-promising career. Instead, it was the beginning of a series of new beginnings, all requiring increasingly successful career pivots, thanks in part to the books I read.

What follows is my curated list of 10 books to help men over age 50 pivot to a place where they are happier, healthier and wealthier than ever before. It happened to me. It can happen to you!

Note: I include links for convenience, not for affiliate marketing. I don’t earn a single penny.

10 Books for Manly Career Pivots After 50


Reliable study paints alarming picture

An analysis of the federal Health and Retirement Study (done before a global pandemic dropped a bomb on the job market) showed 56% of Americans were pushed out of a job, one way or another, after age 50.

Include me in that statistic.

Chart by the author using Canva. Sources: Data analyzed by ProPublica and Urban Institute.

Wait, there’s more!

Among workers over 50 who have lost one job, a third go on to lose two or more jobs.

Question: What are you doing to mitigate your risks and maximize your career opportunities after age 50?


See. Acknowledge. Ask.

Life is about managing pain. What will you do if someone risks revealing their pain to you? Stock photo: Canva.

Do you know someone who is hurting, someone trying to get through their day, week and life managing their pain?

You probably do. It might be a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker or the anxious person looking at you in the mirror. It might be someone grieving the passing of a loved one, the breaking of a relationship, the death of a vision, the shattering of hope, the relentlessness of racial discrimination.

Pain can feel like getting kicked in the stomach, leaving you breathless for a moment or several years. …


Can the 1973 hit inspire us still today?

A 1973 song somehow made a yellow ribbon around a tree symbolize love, forgiveness, community, loyalty and hope. Photo: Canva.

In 1973, a nation divided over the Vietnam War, a growing Watergate scandal and racial issues took a step toward unity thanks to a song with a story everyone could relate to. We need a song like that now.

Perhaps the story of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” can inspire someone to make a tune like that today. Or, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, maybe we need to “play it again, Uncle Sam.”

Sung by a Puerto Rican singer named Tony Orlando and two Black women from Motown collectively called Dawn, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the…

M.M. O'Keefe

I’m a communications VP, journalist & after-50 career and life coach who writes about faith, history and finding your purpose. FiredUP50.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store