Q: Will you be addressing the issues of how to achieve an improved sense of confidence when one is no longer in the workforce? Post retirement the usual reinforcements of salary, bonuses, peer recognition, etc. disappear and while volunteer service can be enjoyable all those usual reinforcements are missing. Taking classes, trying to learn or relearn things (fell off my bicycle, again, yesterday) can help but more than that seems to be in order. This must be an issue for stay at home moms too.
A: Yes—while much of our book may seem targeted for women at work, in fact, confidence is critical for all of us at all stages and places in life. In fact, one of my favorite definitions of confidence was from Sharon Salzberg, a Buddhist expert, who describes it as a kind of essential life force—a sort of energy necessary for moving towards challenges wholeheartedly.
You are right that once we are not at work, and driven by traditional motivations, life can become both richer and trickier—depending on what most drives us. it’s very important to have some understanding of our basic motivations, and to try to put ourselves in positions that make sense for us. I personally have found that as much as I hate them, or think I hate them, I absolutely require deadlines. I need some form of outside pressure. And, having spent a significant amount of time at home with my kids, I can tell you that requires incredible confidence, and much more. Interestingly—studies show women are in general more confident about parenting than men.
One resource I’d check out that I found quite useful—the VIA Institute, and their values survey. It’s a pretty quick test—and will tell you a lot about many of your natural character strengths. That might give you unexpected information that you can actually put to use now that you have fewer boundaries. Good luck with the bike-riding! That’s on my list.