This is how it started – step 1 towards my next book

I’d been considering a PhD for years – never the right time, and many years ago I asked for sponsorship from my employer (Royal Mail). They said YES to an MBA, no to something less relevant!
I had the forms to complete for an application for different universities but the struggle to complete when I wasn’t really sure WHAT I wanted to research meant that I kept putting things to one side.
And then I got older.
Birkbeck were offering a professional doctorate for Chartered Psychologists, and the research should have practical relevance to the work place. I found out that you didn’t need a clear topic, that’s what you find through your initial research phase.
I was interested in transitions and considered differing stages of life including the mid-life transition. At 60 I began considering retirement as a subject.
I went for my interview with Jo Yarker and Rachel Lewis. I was early so had a green smoothie while I waited.
I posted online: the interview went well on many levels. My zest and enthusiasm shone through. I’d clearly done research and had a good understanding of methodology. I showed how the work could fit in with Government needs. BUT … they only take on 8 and I don’t have recent experience of analysing research papers, and there is a lot of that when doing the literature review. I said it was a skill and I’m a quick learner. I should hear after my Vision Quest. AND … on this I may decide that it isn’t the right path for me.

THIS IS HOW IT STARTED – Step 2 on the path to my next book – My first Vision Quest

Finding out about Vision Quests I was intrigued. Would it help me stop the chatter in my head and help me find my life direction? My greatest fear was going without food for 4 days – never done it, how could I? Talking with David, my Vision quest Guide and his joy in the process, and the impact it will have – better than 4 years of psychotherapy he said, encouraged me to sign up. I had to do it. I’ve written in detail about this elsewhere, for now I wanted to share how this impacted my choice of research topic, and subsequent book.
I had planned to study unretirement – why people returned to the workplace. However, through my time alone on the 4 days solo part of the vision quest (no food, no tent, no technology, but I did have pens and a notebook got me reflecting on Meaning – on a meaningful life, how so much is gained from our work, and where we get meaning from after work … and I had my research topic. Whilst on this solo time I had no idea if I would be accepted but I do have the space to think and reflect on my own life.
Switching on my phone the day after my return there was an email to say I’d been accepted. I knew it was going to be challenging, but after the vision quest, I was ready for anything. I started reading and getting myself mentally prepared for this return to study.

Photo is me, trying my rucksack out. I would need to hike, only taking what I could carry. Except for water – we could take that in advance – 5 litres a day.

Read steps 3 and 4 here: