Layoffs Force Workers to Reinvent Themselves; New Book Provides Solutions

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Auto industry downsizing has thousands of workers searching for a new life or hastily preparing for an early retirement.

The American automotive industry is seriously downsizing. Ford recently announced that 30,000 of its hourly employees will be accepting early retirement packages. This is in addition to 50,000 GM employees who have recently taken similar "early out" offers.

What will these people do? Many of them are 10 to 15 years away from traditional retirement age. Some of the packages include retraining opportunities. But how will these people know what to study or where to look for their next job? The answer is probably not in the automotive industry. So how will they go about intelligently reinventing themselves?

Many may find the answer in a new book, "Your Retirement, Your Way," by Alan Bernstein and John Trauth (McGraw-Hill) which has quickly ascended into Amazon's ranks of best sellers (currently #4). This book is different from most retirement books that focus primarily on finance. The book argues that, to find your next path in life, it is first important to start with self-analysis and discovery to determine your true interests, style and motivational needs. (The book uses a mini-version of the well-regarded "Birkman Method," a personality profile used by Fortune 500 companies.) Then this information can be used strategically to craft a "NewLife" which will have the best chance of leading to personal happiness and fulfillment. The book also emphasizes the importance of a "phased retirement" approach which makes good sense both psychologically and financially.

In addition, the book's website,, offers a free "retirement readiness quiz" which people can use to determine just how ready they are to retire and what they might still need to do.

The book is very upbeat, and encourages readers to look at problems as opportunities. Although the UAW and other workers in the automotive industry are probably not looking at these recent developments in this light, perhaps this book could help change their perspective. Alan Bernstein and John Trauth are available for interviews to comment on retirement issues or to discuss "Your Retirement, Your Way."

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Rob Nissen

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