"There are no second acts in American lives." ( F. Scott Fitzgerald )
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The Second Act - take the 7 steps

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , , , , , , , | Add Your comment

Each of the 7 main sections you see in the above navigation menu will take you to the next. They are like stairs going up from ground (failure) to top level : where you will make space to grow and stage your own Second Act, instead of following the script someone else chose for you.

Here’s some good news. Maximum despair is a prerequisite to personal development. This is what psychiatrist Carl Jung believed. This is what I experienced. The Second Act is your chance to leave your footprint. The opportunity to take center stage.

Use your failure as a spotlight : it will point out what is wrong with your life. It will make you realize that you have been so busy climbing uphill during your First Act - building a career, raising a family, dealing with immediate concerns - that you have lost yourself, dumped your dreams and flattened your creativity in the process.

Failure has many faces and there are many ways to deal with it. You need to make your own way through "this sea of troubles". I invite you to explore the 7 main sections of The Second Act. I hope my articles will help you improve your navigational skills : not only to survive the storm but to sail in pursuit of your dreams.


Your first step is simple : accept the fact that your life must change. And take control of the change : it is all about deciding… to decide. Deal with fear and rage, get rid of excuses and of your inner critic. And start decluttering :
  • your mind,
  • your life,
  • your space.
Remember : where there is space, growth occurs.

Understand your values, clarify your beliefs, find out what is really important to you and ask yourself : what can I do TODAY to change my mindset so that TOMORROW I can change my life ? Whatever it is, make it your first goal. DO IT. Build momentum brick by brick.

KEY WORDS : self-motivation.


Getting started calls for huge efforts. You need fuel. Maybe you have no one to comfort you, encourage you to get up, congratulate you for trying to write your own Second Act. You have to learn how to comfort yourself. Practice mindfulness, relaxation, productive daydreaming… And start enjoying your company :

  • forgive yourself,
  • get aware of your needs
  • focus actively on your well-being.
Remember : above all, allow yourself to dream.

Not about a « perfect » life : about an authentic life. Use the power of your imagination to see the bigger picture, connect with those high qualities you have (you do have them) which make you unique – and lovable. What your authentic life would be like ? Visualize it. Visualize the road leading to it. It may be shorter than you think…

KEY WORDS : mental well-being.


Learning how to comfort yourself helps you restore your integrity and rebuild your self-esteem from within. Improving your appearance will further boost your self image.

It is not easy to « shine » when you feel hopeless and helpless. But keeping clean and tidy plays a vital part in the conquest of the two things you lack most when you face a major life change :
  • self-confidence,
  • mental well-being.
Remember : Personal grooming will make your mind feel in control.

It will provide the inner peace you need to start being productive again.

KEY WORDS : physical well-being.


Now that you are ready to shine again, it’s time to get in touch with people. When you experience a major setback you are torn between two impulses : a) you want to stay alone and not talk to anyone ; b) you want to talk with anyone but you feel that no one wants to talk to you.

Well, you are not totally wrong. Some people, even some of your “good” friends, hate bad news; others fear to be contaminated by “failure”; others will pity you while obviously feeling glad they are not in your shoes, etc... You better stay away from them. But, as you will soon discover, other people will prove to be trustworthy and ready to advise you without second thoughts.

Remember : tough times are a good test, revealing who your true friends really are.

So : a) don’t stay alone, but : b) don’t talk to just anyone :
  • don’t beg for friendship,
  • learn to say « no »,
  • stay away from toxic people,
  • open up to new people.
Discuss your choices and share your goals ONLY with non-complainers and true supporters, who can show you how to bring out your best, who are as « goal minded » and as serious about self growth as you are.

KEY WORD : network.


Following the first 4 steps will make you feel resourceful again. By accomplishing some simple, short-terms goals, you have converted fear and inertia into assertiveness. Now it is time to get clear about what you really want, find a direction for your life change, set a long-term goal and focus on it. Focus will help you :
  • put your Second Act together,
  • channel your energy,
  • fight bad habits,
  • finish what you start.
Remember : learning to focus enables you to choose your priorities.

You will make the difference between important and urgent, between movement and real action, between your values+skills and the values+skills others (society, family, friends) decided you should have to be successful.

KEY-WORD : direction


Creativity is not a gift possessed only by artists. According to cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, it is « the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile ».

Maybe you don’t realize it yet, but you already are more productive, therefore more creative than you think. Now that you decided to fulfill your dream and make your Second Act an act of success, you need to break this major goal into smaller, actionable, segments and take action.

Remember : you don’t have to go by the book. Be inventive :

  • create a daily routine,
  • find your own system of getting things done,
  • look for a variety of scenarios when approaching situations,
  • adapt the methods taught by productivity experts to your needs.
Improve your creative thinking – and therefore your productivity – by identifying your abilities and the processes you use most often to express them. Challenge yourself to further develop these skills. Write down your goals, your steps, learn to manage your time, to set deadlines and to predict+eliminate distractions.

KEY WORD : productivity.


You are now facing the biggest challenge : getting on track and staying there. Of course, you don’t need to become obsessed with accomplishing your goal. But you need to remain aware of it every single day :
  • visualize your goal (on your desk, your calendar, etc.),
  • visualize yourself succeeding,
  • list people you could choose to be accountable,
  • list the good things that will happen when you reach your goal,
  • review your goal at least once a week.

Remember : the journey to your goal is not a straight line.

You will fall off track quite often. But you will also learn to change your frustration into a powerful force that gets you back on track. So every time you will mess up, acknowledge your mistake and use your creativity to find ways to avoid it in the future. Don't let doubts and mistakes lead to disregard for your goal. Use them to reassess your goal and inspire yourself.

KEY WORD : purpose.

Start climbing the stairs to top level ! And if you need somebody by your side to encourage, motivate and hopefully advise you : I am here.

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