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Community-building to be central theme of instructor Katherine Hirsh's fall LearningLife programs

Katherine_Hirsh.JPG Although she has lived and worked all over the world, cognitive psychologist Katherine Hirsh feels that one of the best places she has ever found for making connections is right in her own home--on her computer.

"The Web is such a marvelous place to meet new people, explore new fields, and share ideas. I'm glad to see LearningLife taking advantage of this medium--and I'm happy to be a part of it."

Hirsh, an internationally recognized authority on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, specializes in the decision-making process, team building, lifework development, and management training. This fall, she brings her talents to several of LearningLife's activities, including leading a Life Skills workshop, leading a Beyond the Book session, as well as co-authoring an expert blog with her sister, Elizabeth Hirsh.

On October 28, Hirsh will be conducting the Life Skills workshop, "Blueprint for a Successful Retirement." Drawing on the principles laid out in Tal Ben-Shahar's Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, the evening workshop will help participants create a blueprint that reflects both their vision and mission for a retirement that meets their goals and brings them happiness.

Says Hirsh, "When you're assessing your future retirement plans, you need to look at three overall categories of factors: knowledge and skills, e.g. what do I know, what can I do, can I use these...and do I want to use them; environmental supports and roadblocks, e.g. do I have children at home, do I need to keep some sort of job, do I have health concerns, etc.; and attitude, e.g. what's my approach to this next phase? What are my values, and what makes me feel good?"

From her research, Hirsh has determined that there are 52 factors that fit into these three categories. She has developed a unique tool that will allow participants in the workshop to rate and build upon these 52 factors that affect satisfaction, meaning, and happiness during retirement. From this initial assessment, workshop attendees will have a springboard of things to work on in the upcoming weeks and months.

"Whatever your plans are for retirement--another job, moving away, taking up a new hobby, whatever--we all want to have a positive transition from one phase of our lives to the next," says Hirsh. "In this workshop, we'll get the dialogue started, and build a community of people who are all working to discover who they are, where they want to be, and how to get there."

In November, Hirsh will kick off her Beyond the Book online discussion, on You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, by Brad Hirschfield.

Hirsh explains, "The book asks if--or how--we can make room for other cultures and beliefs without negating our own. It looks at how you can have a dialogue and ask questions, learn from each other, understand what they are thinking...all the while deepening your own faith or belief system, whatever it might be."

During the course of the four-week online discussion, Hirsh will post questions, conversation starters, and personal thoughts to get participants engaged and to build a sense of community. Following the discussion period, participants will be invited to gather together with Hirsh and have a lively but relaxing evening discussion, complete with cookies.

Visitors to LearningLife's Web site also will have a chance to read and comment on Hirsh's expert blog, "The Self-Discovery Digest," which she will be co-authoring with her sister and business partner, Elizabeth Hirsh. The sisters will post new content every other Wednesday beginning in late October.

"We want to get people started on their own journeys of self-discovery, and give them a place to connect with others who are on the same path. There will be discussion and reflection questions, motivational quotes, links to additional resources, random musings, maybe even some music," Hirsh says with a smile. "Basically, we want to provide people a platform for change...and a supportive community in which to make those changes."

Hirsh, for one, is eager to take part in these new communities. "The Internet allows people from all over the world to connect, to have a meaningful discourse. Because people can take the time to think about their responses, ponder what's been said, let it digest...the opportunities for deep connections are endless. I hope that LearningLife fosters those connections."

Register for Katherine Hirsh's "Blueprint for a Successful Retirement" workshop online or by calling 612-624-4000. Hirsh's expert blog will debut in October, and her Beyond the Book discussion will kick off in November; watch the LearningLife Web site for updates on these programs.

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