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Living a LearningLife

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sm_donna2008.jpgAdults in conversation with children will often resort to this fail-safe question to make a connection with a child. Children usually have a quick and ready answer: An astronaut! A fireman! A pilot! A teacher! And so on. They call out their favorites without restraints, without hesitation. They see it and they believe it.
Can you remember longing for the grown-up day when you would magically become who and what you dreamed to be? For some people, things turned out exactly as believed; for others a new, different, and often surprising path was followed.
Whatever your path has been to now, do you find yourself coming full circle lamenting, "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up!"? You are not alone. In my work as a coach, I hear it often. I've been in that place myself.
Read this and other posts at Donna's LearningLife expert blog, Thresholds...

Tips and tricks for getting started on Facebook, LinkedIn, and more....SclNtwrkLgs.gif

In the last couple of years, social networking Web sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have become almost as ubiquitous an accessory as a cell phone or a computer. A sizeable proportion of Gen X and Millenials have a page (or two or three)--some estimates say nearly 90 percent of college students maintain at least one page--but what about baby boomers? Is social networking "just for kids," or are people over 40 adopting the technology as well?

A recent report from Forrester Research indicates that baby boomers are more technically savvy than might be popularly believed. According to the study, more than 60 percent of boomers are using social media like blogs, forums, podcasts, and online videos. And one-third of adult Internet users have a profile on a social networking site, up from 8 percent in 2005 (according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project).

Sometimes, it seems that everyone, from individuals still in the corporate world to retired grandparents, is going online. Heck, even nonagenarian actor and academy award winner Kirk Douglas has his own MySpace page to keep in touch with fans and family alike. (He's a Sagittarius, by the way.)

LL_iconic_house2-1.JPGTours open in late August on the St. Paul campus

For as long as people have been building homes, the sun has played a role in design and architecture. Yet even today, in our ever-growing "green conscious" society, only a fraction of buildings make use of solar energy for power needs.

Now, a team of University of Minnesota students, faculty and alumni is working to make solar technology more accessible for the average Minnesota homeowner.

They are building an entirely solar-powered house that's especially designed for the Minnesota climate, and hope that Minnesotans can take away a few tips and tricks for their own homes.

MarkFischer_LL.jpgWhat’s the goal of financial planning? Not necessarily accumulating the most money possible, says financial planner Mark Fischer of Fischer on Finance (pictured at right).

“Figuring out what [people’s] passions are is one of the biggest challenges. It's not just about having more money, it's about having a better life,” Fischer says.

Strictly talking about money Fischer says, “is the wrong emphasis. It should be more on the ‘so what’—what are you going to get from it, what’s the point” of accumulating wealth.

On June 11, Fischer will offer a LearningLife financial planning workshop, Financial Planning for Life.

Unlike many financial planning seminars, Fischer says the workshop focuses on more than just accumulating monetary wealth. Instead, participants engage in a holistic approach to financial planning that begins with participants’ life situation; continues with their goals, life direction, and resources, both human and financial; and comes full circle to a financial plan for the life they want.

Freedman3.JPGThe idea of working beyond traditional retirement age is nothing new to most baby boomers.

What is new is the rapid increase of interest in, and adoption of, "encore careers." Encore careers, as defined by Civic Ventures founder and CEO, Marc Freedman, is "work that combines income and personal meaning with social impact." Civic Ventures is a think tank and program incubator whose goal is to help "society achieve the greatest return on experience."

The 2008 Encore Career Survey, conducted by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, found that between 5.3 to 8.4 million boomers had moved from their traditional career to this new stage of work.

On Saturday, May 16, LearningLife will present the Encore Fest--a day designed to help attendees define their second act, whether that's paid work, volunteer work, or a combination of both.

sm_donna2008.jpgAs a new year gets underway, many of us find ourselves making resolutions or vowing to "finally make that lifestyle or career change" we've been thinking about. It's a time of reflection, and of planning for the future.

Now, for those who want to plan their next career or re-evaluate their life path, LearningLife is offering life skills workshops that offer ways to get inspired, think about the future, and strategically plan out a blueprint for true life change. One upcoming workshop, Your Next Chapter: Exploring Life/Work Options, will be led by career consultant Donna Bennett.

Designed to help people think about their future and make meaningful decisions about their next steps in life, the workshop was initially intended for older adults considering an encore career. But now, however, when the job market and economy are tight, it is especially applicable to anyone who is looking to make a change in their lives.