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Retired, But Not Done Yet – Dr. Cynthia Barnett

Resiliency and perseverance are top of mind these days. Today’s retirement podcast conversation is an inspiring story of overcoming adversity throughout life and creating a meaningful second act with a higher purpose. COVID-19 has many ripple effects. Forced to stay at home, many people are finding themselves doing more self-reflection about their true priorities. And others still are being forced to think about what’s next earlier than they planned. What will you choose to do when your days of full-time work come to a close?

The story of our guest today will fuel your self-reflection. It’s the story of an educator who “retired” and then re-fired.




Dr. Cynthia Barnett is the author of I’m Not Done Yet … and You Shouldn’t Be Either

A research study by the American Association of University Women called “Why so few women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math” prompted Dr. Barnett to join the movement to empower girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) by seeking to ignite their interest and spark their enthusiasm while building core life skills of self-confidence, self-esteem, curiosity, problem-solving and risk-taking.

Dr. Barnett has become a STEAM champion and is passionate about bringing opportunities to young girls to blaze their own path in STEAM fields to get them ready to meet 21st Century challenges in the scientific and technological fields.

Saturday Academy was one of the programs featured on CBS  on their Martin Luther King “Fulfilling the Dream” program focusing on people in the community who give back. The Connecticut Technology Council has honored Dr. Barnett with its Community Innovation & Leadership Award.

Dr. Cynthia won the Inaugural AARP Purpose Prize for her work with igniting the SPARK in girls for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).


Resiliency and Perseverance Lead to a Great Second Act

We discuss:

  • Her Amazing Girls Science Program
  • What inspired her to write her book I’m Not Done Yet…And You Shouldn’t Be Either
  • Her journey to college, beginning with multiple rejections, and culminating in a Doctorate from Columbia University
  • How dealing with challenges creates greater strength
  • Why becoming an Empty Nester can be a catalyst
  • Why creativity and resiliency can be cultivated
  • How people can recognize a calling
  • Why some people believe that they can never achieve their dreams yet others do just that
  • Her advice for anyone who’s retiring, but not done yet


Wise Quotes

On Resiliency

“I made a decision that I was going to swim and I was not going to sink. And one of the things I learned from that difficult situation and that really bubbled up in me was my own problem-solving skills. I learned how to figure it out.  I had an inner strength in me that I didn’t know existed. I learned how to be independent and how to be confident. And it was a very difficult time, but I made it through.”


On Self-Reflection

“Sometimes it’s difficult. It depends on the mind where one may be thinking they want to lead their life. It’s a lot about reflection. And thinking, ‘Well now it’s time. It’s time to do something else. It’s time to give back. And it’s time to really make a difference.’   


On Recognizing a Calling

“That inner calling, it just speaks to us and if people are really willing to think of where they’re going next, where they want to spend the next 20 years – because research shows that we are going to live to another 20 or 30 years after we leave the regular workforce. As an example, I left my position as an assistant high school principal 17 years ago, I was 60 at the time. I’m going to be 77 next month. And I’m thinking, ‘What would I have done in all that time? ‘I would have been absolutely bored. So it’s so important to really think of what’s next for us. And many people don’t think about that. They just kind of just go along with one thing at a time, not really thinking about  Well, what’s really my true Calling? Because the true calling may not have been in the work you did before.”


On Finding Her True Calling 

“I find that this is my true calling because I’m able to use not just what I know, not just some of the strategies, but it’s a whole new avenue for me. I’m not a science major, but I love science. I love the intrigue that it brings the kids.”



For More on Dr. Cynthia Barnett

Order I’m Not Done Yet…And You Shouldn’t Be Either

The Amazing Girls Science program


Podcast Episodes You Might Like

With the Freedom to Retire, Where Will You Plant Your New Tree? – Don Ezra

Why Building Resilience is Vital in Midlife and Beyond – Jan Zacharjasz

Retirement Planning Includes Getting Good at Getting Older – Rabbi Laura Geller

Advice for Successful Career Women Transitioning to Retirement – Helen Dennis

Why People Make a Career Change with Purpose Top of Mind – Chris Farrell


Best Books on Retirement

Some related titles you may like:

Answering Your Call: Guide for Living Your Deepest Purpose

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters

Keys to a Successful Retirement



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Tools You Can Use

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