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Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire

by Stephen M. Pollan
Collins, 272 pages, $11.166

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Writers realize that second acts are the hardest to write because stories have to reinvent themselves, and it can be pretty tough for professionals to reinvent their careers, too. Former attorney Stephen Pollan is qualified to create this workbook chock full of exercises for those looking to make major career changes. Second Acts reaffirms the saying that "It's never too late" and provides colorful, inspiring accounts of people who have managed to rise from the ashes of dead careers and transition to promising new ones.

"We've allowed the outside world to draw up schedules and checklists for us against which we judge our own worth," writes Pollan. According to the author, allowing our peers, parents and other outsiders to commandeer so many of our choices and actions is a recipe for disaster. The most vital section of Second Acts explores how important it is to drill down to our cores and determine what we truly enjoy doing. Then he lists a series of questions to ask that can lead to a logical next step based on where passions lie.

Professionals at career crossroads will appreciate the real life stories Pollan includes to show how others have overcome obstacles. He recounts the journey of Anna Mary Robertson, who, after being a farmwife, mother and seamstress, took up painting at the ripe young age of 76. She exhibited a few works at local art fairs and then an amateur art collector bought paintings from her and managed to include one in a folk painting exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art. This led to a dealer giving her a one-woman show at his gallery. It was met with much acclaim and Robertson adopted her hometown nickname of Grandma Moses. Even today she personifies "outside art" and stands as an iconic figure in American history.

If you are pondering a second act for your career, reading Pollan's book and completing these exercises should be a prerequisite. As the author points out, most of our obstacles are self-imposed, and the more we neglect urges to make life changes, the harder it becomes. Second Acts is a valuable tool in the volatile job markets of today where professionals switch careers midstream and reinventing ourselves has become a way of life.

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