It’s easy to put off things that you want to do. There is no limit to the excuses — too tired, no time, what will others think?, no money – the list goes on and on. When it comes to doing the work you really like to do, the list becomes longer. “I’ll wait till I retire. I need to pay the bills now!” That’s another popular excuse, and another favorite — “My spouse will get mad at me!”
Why SOMEDAY never comes
There will always be bills to pay, spouses to please, and non-valued added activities that will push “SOMEDAY” off into the sunset. Just when you think you finally have the time, something else comes up to demand your attention.
So let’s deal with these excuses one by one as a starting point for finding your vocation and doing the work you really want to do — forever!
Working at just a job can indeed be very tiring. Silly rules, crazy expectations, and long hours doing mindless work can drain both energy and life from your soul if you continue to do it for too long. Ever look at your peers? They are wonderful people, but many days they look like machines going from one activity to another. They only perk up at the mention of a weekend, a luncheon, or possible other external incentives.
It is easy to fall into this pattern, and to forget that a life exists within each of us that is greater than the job we do. There exists something unique within each of us to be bigger than we are. Each of us has unique gifts to offer the world, and the best way to do this is through our work. Doing “just a job” not only takes away your energy, but it can also take years off your life.
We all have the same amount of time each and every day — 24 hours. It’s how we CHOOSE to use it that counts. Many of us are busy each day with activities that have nothing to do with what is most important to us in our lives.
After 40, it is critical to be clear about what is most important, and to be very specific about which activities will align just perfectly with what is important to you. This is the hardest job of all, and the reason most people don’t take the time.
When you start to organize your life around your priorities, it is amazing how other people will start to align with your new plans as well. People start to accommodate those who are crystal clear about their life goals and plans. All of us have all the time in the world we need right now. It’s matter of priorities and attention.
What will others think?
This one stops many people, especially those over 40, from doing work that better matches their heart and soul. After all, society expects us to slow down and move aside after 40, and get ready to retire (which is the French term for “slow down” or “retreat”). It is easy to fall into this trap. This is sadly a trap which — once you’ve been caught in it — is difficult to escape. Many people worry that making major life changes in their work is selfish, and will elicit criticism from others.
Many people choose work and plans based on whether others will view their new choices as successful. After 40, we must define our measure of success based on internal goals and visions. There will indeed be people who will not agree with major changes in your direction. This is a hurdle to jump over. The secret to an authentic life is living with integrity, and not worrying what others will think.
As long as the changes in your life and work are healthy, and are discussed openly with your loved ones, you should ignore external critics. The path to an authentic life is a lonely road. Without intrinsic motivation and internal measures of success, we will always fall into the trap of waiting for the approval and permission of others.
Many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, but the majority of people over 40 have a small nest egg sitting aside waiting for a rainy day to buy that perfect umbrella. For many of us, life will get in the way and the umbrella will be used earlier than we planned.
Starting to do work we love will allow us to create a new relationship with our money — how we earn it, treat it, and spend it. There is actually nothing wrong with working paycheck to paycheck if the work is meaningful, coherent with your life, and full of joy. Over time we will come up with creative ways to make exactly the money we need — no more, no less. There is a difference between “want” and “need” with regards to money. Doing fulfilling work refocuses us around “NEED” vs. “want”. Over time, the primary “want” becomes focused around doing work that brings meaning to our lives vs. the next material purchase.
Why not wait until retirement?
Because people who work only to retire are people who don’t love or even like what they do. They see retirement as the ticket to a better life, filled with vacation, hobbies, and slower days. The reality is that society has changed. People are needing to work longer, and in many cases, all their lives. The world has become more expensive to live in, and for many of us, there are always interesting new trips to take and fun things to buy that delay our financial comfort.
The concept of retirement is dead, and it needs to be replaced with a new model of living. When you turn 40 is exactly the perfect time to start to do work that aligns your interests and abilities, and provides new meaning and joy in your life. With a good 40-plus years of life remaining, it is indeed a waste of your life to do anything other than something that gives you meaning and joy every day. Over 40, life starts to move very quickly, and your life quickly fills up with OTHER activities if you don’t guard your time closely.
My spouse won’t approve
One of the reasons that 50% of couples get divorced, is that either a) one person continues to grow and develop, seeking pleasure in their life, while the other person just waits for “someday” or “someone” to rescue them; or b) Neither individual allows the other to grow in ways that might seem odd or different or even threatening.
The secrets to a fulfilling relationship after 40 are that it requires openness, support, and unconditional love. Being a cheer leader for your spouse is an important ingredient in the recipe for a passionate and authentic love life after 40.
Don’t wait for SOMEDAY
Take action today that will force “someday” to happen now. Like all other activities in life, where you place your attention, focus, and energy is where movement will occur. When it comes to your work after 40, there are ONLY two choices. Accept the mundane, and slow down and wait for death, or live each day as if it was your last — full of love, joy, and meaningful activities. Your work is JUST the right platform to start with.
I will be cheering you on as you go!