Love Your Job?
Note: Every year, millions of mid-lifers consider making a career
change, despite the fact that they have many years of service and
are making exceptional money. The
question that most people must ask somewhere in their 40’s-50’s,
is if they want to stay in the same career until retirement.
question often comes about because what drove them to their career
choice early in life, isn’t the same motivator that drives them
now. Other times, there
can simply be a need to change their focus or the job simply isn’t
what it used to be. If
you are a mid-lifer and trying to determine what you want to do
next, Craig Nathanson points out some general steps that you can
take to walk you through the process.
Five Steps to Vocational Passion:
A Disciplined Plan for Major Mid-life Changes
There’s a famous song lyric that
asks: “Is that all there is?” Every seven seconds, an American
turns 50 years old. So there’s a good chance that song is running
through some of their heads.
The question captures the ennui
that many people feel in mid-life. They look up at the clock, see it
ticking, and begin counting in their heads all the mountains not
climbed, the poems not written, and the songs not sung.
It’s time to stop asking the
question idly. I’m offering five initial steps that you can take
to evaluate your situation and to begin the transition away from a
meaningless grind toward a new life that provides you with energy
Vocational passion is an alignment
of your abilities and interests in a role that gives you unlimited
energy and happiness. This is not an overnight process. But it’s a
process you can begin today.
Step One: Evaluate
Lots of people settle for jobs that
pay the bills but leave them feeling empty. If you want to break out
of this trap and find another kind of life, you need to evaluate
where you’d like to go.
Examine where your passions lie. On
a scale of 1-10, where are you when it comes to vocational passion?
A “1” is a living drudgery where you force yourself to your desk
every morning and dream about the end of the day; a “10” is a
perfect alignment between interests and livelihood.
Too many of us are closer to
“1” than “10”. Anything lower than a “5” suggests your
working life may be feeding your family, but at the expense of
starving your soul.
Step Two: Envision Your Future
You may have seen the U.S. Navy ad
that asks: “If someone wrote a book about your life, would anyone
want to read it?”
Here’s your chance to write that
book – or at least the outline. Sit down and write a short
biography that describes who you are five years from now. Describe
exactly the life you wish to lead, doing work that you love. You
will know you’re done with the exercise when your heart races with
Then imagine and write down your
vision of a perfect vocational day. It’s difficult to achieve
something that you have not clearly envisioned. Make sure your
vision has clarity. Then document it and pull it out regularly, to
refresh your desire to achieve that vision.
Step Three: Tune Out Negative
Understand this: The moment you
announce plans to make a radical change in your life, many people
will find the move threatening and they will not wish you well. They
will try to talk you out of it and tell you what a big mistake
you’re about to make.
Never let the naysayers dictate
your life. People who listen to negative voices end up with the
Step Four: Shore Up Your Support
Anyone making a change needs
supportive friends, and lots of them.
I suggest a three-tiered model for
analyzing your personal support network. The three tiers will
include people who are 1) “interested” in your work; 2)
“supporters” who are not only interested, but offer creative
ideas to move you forward; 3) “believers,” which includes your
most active supporters.
Make your lists now. Examine whom
you have in your support network and rank them according to these
tiers. Focus on networking with your tier-one supporters, while
trying to move those people in tiers two and three up the ladder.
Step Five: Assess Your Risk
When taking action to follow one's
passion, people trying to change their life fall into one of four
categories. Each requires a different strategy.
Category One: Plenty of
money and plenty of time. People in this category have a high
tolerance for risk based on their relatively young age and solid
Category Two: Plenty of
money and little time. Because of failing health and/or advancing
age, those in category two have some risk tolerance. But they
probably lack a solid support network, since most friends will
advise against change because they are “too old” or “too
Category Three: Little time
and little money. I define “little money” as having less than
six months of cash flow in the bank. Risk tolerance is low in this
category, and supporters are probably hard to come by. Most people
are in this category.
Category Four: No money and
no time. I define “no money” as less then three months cash flow
in the bank. Anyone is this position will have a very low risk
tolerance. They will find little support to help them move toward
doing what they love.
What to do?
Take the calculated risks now.
Make solid but flexible plans
Get aligned around your abilities and interests
Get more education if necessary
Talk to people who do what you want to do!
What's the worst that can
Remember this: You won't die or
become homeless if you pursue what you love. You may, however, find
that your relationship to your money will change. You’ll respect
money more, and you’ll find that you can manage on less of it.
Also understand that pursuing
vocational passion doesn’t always mean making less money. But it
does mean that money is not the only consideration – or even the
most important consideration – in choosing your new vocational
If you don't act to pursue your
vocational passion, then every seven seconds someone else will come
along and ask themselves: “Is that all there is?” Many of them
will answer, “No,” and will do something about it. You can be
one of the doers.
About The Author
Nathanson, The Vocational Coach, is the author of “P Is For
Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day,” by Book Coach Press. He
publishes the free monthly e-zine, “Vocational Passion in
Mid-life.” Craig believes the world works a little better when we
do the work we love. He helps those in mid-life carry this out.
Visit his online community at http://www.thevocationalcoach.com