For more than twenty-years my good friend Debbie’s primary focus was working her way up the corporate ladder in the Human Resources department of a large publicly traded company. Day after day she worked hard to meet the demands of her superiors and colleagues, until one morning she woke up with a sickened, sinking feeling in her stomach.
It was her career, she realized. Having spent nearly half of her life working in an unsatisfying job, with few genuine accomplishments and the goals of her youth long forgotten, Debbie had hit midlife and she didn’t like it. To alleviate the feeling in her stomach, Debbie began making a conscious effort to pay more attention to the gap between the reality of her life and the dreams and passions she once had. She was determined to pounce on her one last chance for a career that could make the second half of her life more meaningful and fulfilling.
Debbie decided to nourish her passion and become an event coordinator, she runs her business out of her home in NJ. She is now planning to expand her business even further.
Is Debbie’s story unusual? Not at all!
A growing number of adults are looking at their 40s, 50s, and 60s as the right time to start fresh in an entirely new field. What drives adults to change their careers? The answer, in a word, is midlife.
Craving a more fulfilling and meaningful career is just one area of focus during midlife adjustment. As adults reach midlife, the importance of achieving goals and doing what makes us happy becomes much more important. This is the time closet authors, entrepreneurs, musicians or artists will begin thinking about careers to match their energy, vitality, and passion for life.
The life cycle is, for most of us, fairly predictable. From adolescence to age 30, most of us are consumed with learning how to become who we think we want to be. We go from our 30s to our 40s working and living that role. But at age 40, midlife, after having reached this goal, many discover it wasn’t what we wanted to do after all. At this midlife point, after having worked so hard only to find ourselves wanting, many are willing to take on the challenge of more risk and freeing ourselves from the burden of others expectations.
Longer life expectancy plays a part, too. At midlife, people realize they still have nearly half a lifetime yet to live and wonder how they will spend those years. They know they’re going to have lots of healthy years, so I think its a period of making choices to live out one’s dreams that got put on the shelf during younger years.
Women are well represented in this mindset, with more women than ever using their midlife as a springboard to experience positive career transformations. They want a career that matches their energy and allows them to be successful as individuals. More and more often you will find women starting businesses, gaining respect, and finding purpose in their midlife.
The lesson we can take for Debbie’s story is that midlife should not be feared, and that the sinking feeling in your stomach should not be ignored. Both are an accepted call to action. Changing your job, career, or lifestyle may take some work. But if you truly follow your passion, the effort will provide infinitely positive results.
Are you ready for a change? Here are a few tips to get started…
Make a list of the things missing in your life..
Do you long to revive a passion from your youth that you never found time to pursue? Is it music, a sport, writing, cooking, entrepreneurship? It doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something you truly have a desire to do. If you’ve already got a clear picture of the passions you’d like to pursue, then identify small, achievable ways you can start incorporating them into your life.
Imagine that you already have one million dollars in the bank, How would you spend your time each day? Think of the environment you’d like to be in, the people you’d want to know, and how you would relate to them. What activities would you engage in? Chances are your passions come to the surface when you play-out your winning the lottery fantasies. Although we’re not all destined to be millionaires, that shouldn’t hold you back from following your desires and placing more value in yourself, regardless of your bank account balance.
Tap into your wisdom and experience to re-evaluate your current career, Ask yourself what’s not working and what you want to change. Use this time to reflect on your life. Are there any passions or dreams that you abandoned in your youth? If you don’t know what you want to do, try volunteering as a way to develop new interests. Find a way to live your passion everyday. I once heard someone say, “You don’t get what you want out of life, but what you believe.”
Understand your passion, but also where your strengths lie. Its critical to take an inventory of your life and to determine what is really important. Make a list of the things you are passionate about, and then narrow the list to items that present an opportunity to generate income. If you’re not pursuing your passion, what’s in the way? What do you need to do to move forward with pursuing your plan?
Keep your day job, You don’t have to quit your day job to focus on your passion. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. I meet people all the time who say they are working full-time and pursuing their dreams on the side, in their free time. You may still need to earn a living while you transition onto your new path. This is true whether you are planning to start a business or preparing to establish a new career.
Start right now, Over the next 30 days; make a commitment to yourself to identify one thing you can do to begin pursuing your passion and start doing it! Research ways to integrate your passion with your current obligations and take those first steps into your second career with achievable goals. You’ll soon discover that living and working your passion is being in control of your own life.