The Transition Network (TTN) is the premier national organization for women over 50 who are in transition. How do you empower women to embrace change in midlife?
Women come together and empower each other. They see how others have gone through their transition and built lives they find meaningful. So they have wonderful examples of what life can be like.
This stage of life is like no other. All at once, we are faced with a change in nearly every aspect of our life – career, relationships, physical changes, responsibilities like taking care of an aging parent. Wading through all of this alone would be impossible. That’s why the women who come together in TTN find such camaraderie – they are all dealing with change. That commonality forges a bond and serves to give women confidence to face and embrace that change.
Why is midlife, for so many of us, a great time to consider a change?
Sometimes we don’t have a choice but to change. Many of us are leaving our long-term careers (or being retired out). This is probably the biggest change since it affects everything: our financial situation, our self-esteem, our network of friends and co-workers. All of these things are affected when we leave that world. What we try to do in TTN is show women that there are many, many ways to use the skills and experience they have—and so many opportunities to re-establish their sense of value.
If we do have the choice, there’s no better time than now to try something new. We do have experience. We do have expertise. And what we often leave behind are the insecurities that come with worrying about what others think of us. It’s our time to spread our wings and see what we can do. And doing it with other TTN members enhances the success.
What obstacles do women face as they consider a transition in midlife?
The biggest obstacle is sometimes ourselves. It’s difficult to let go of what’s been familiar and comfortable. But letting go is what enables us to embrace something new and different, which can be just as, or even more, fulfilling. We may also face age prejudice, which we have to work hard to overcome. Energy, drive, and a willingness to learn all help overcome the narrow-mindedness of other people.
Can you tell us more about the programs you offer to members and non-members of TTN?
Our goal is to CONNECT women with one another and help them DISCOVER what’s important to them as they determine what IMPACT they want to have on themselves and their communities. TTN offers “Signature Programs” like the Women in Transition Workshop and Transition Peer Groups. These provide opportunities for members to dig deep into what they value and broaden their perspective as they look ahead. Members start Special Interest Groups that are less formal and focus on a passion – book clubs, day trips, food groups, etc. These provide social settings where members can enjoy being together while sharing an experience. Many of our chapters also get involved in their community so members can join in and do something for others. This is always the best way to feel better about ourselves.
How have you, personally, benefited from TTN?
I found TTN in 2007 just after I had left my primary career. It wasn’t in my mind to retire but it was time for a change. I didn’t know I was in “transition” until I found TTN, then the light bulb went on and I understood more clearly what was happening. I joined a Transition Peer Group, met women I never would have met in the ordinary course of my life, and got involved. I joined the steering committee in the Philadelphia Chapter and loved using my marketing and organizational leadership skills to help the chapter grow. When the position became available, I was on the committee to find the new Executive Director. I then realized that I wanted the job and threw my hat in the ring. That was over two years ago and I still believe we are the best organization going for women over 50 who are ready to design a new life for themselves.
What resources can you recommend to women in midlife who are considering making a change?
There are thousands out there, too many for me to even start to list. We have a Transition Resource Center on our website where we collect information on partner organizations, newsletters, and books—but you have to be a member to access that. Of course, there’s the TTN book: Smart Women Don’t Retire — They Break Free. That’s the book that laid out the vision of TTN and its mission to help women in transition. And the “bible” for encore careers is The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life by Marci Alboher.
Contact Susan Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website is full of great information about the organization, our board, staff, and most importantly, our members, who make everything in TTN possible.
As Executive Director of The Transition Network (TTN), Susan has lived the transition that the organization was founded to support. After leaving her long-time career in homebuilding in 2007, she joined TTN, became a member of the steering committee of her local chapter, then decided she wanted to lead the organization and bring the message of “embracing change after 50” to as many other women as possible.