Take a new approach
Right now millions of Americans are either out of work, recently laid off, or afraid of being laid off. There are millions more, who simply work at jobs, which provide no meaning. They work only in order to get a paycheck.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself
Society norms make it easy to feel sorry for yourself. Sadness, depression, panic are all emotions which are easy to absorb during difficult times. When there are bills to pay and food to buy, nothing else seems to matter. Still, to focus on these emotions is the worst approach to take. Feeling bad only leads to more negativity and sadness.
That’s right – CELEBRATE that you are living now during a wonderful period of life – hopefully you have good health and ability to think clearly. For sure this is a good time for transition.
Transitions in work
Transitions take on different shapes and forms during one’s work life. For example one might be in transition as a result of being laid off or while starting new work in a new area. People adapt to change in different ways. This difference depends on how a person perceives his transition. Is this change moving one closer to an important goal or farther away from?
What causes anxiety?
What causes anxiety for most people out of work and in transition is the uncertainty. Before, a person knew what to expect even if the former job didn’t provide much joy or happiness.
A new perspective is needed
When in transition it is important to think back to the OLD job and analyze what was good and what was not so good. This can lead to new beginnings and finding new work which could fit you much better. Sadly, when people lose their job they also lose their sense of self and who they are. Job titles tend to influence the sense of who you are and as a result can be damaging to one’s soul.
Take some down time
I was in a coffee shop the other day and noticed many 40 plus adults in a frantic pace using their cell phones and laptops to come up with something. In fact, I overheard one man who said to someone on the other end, “I’ll take anything at this point.” I thought to myself, “anything?”
In the corner of the shop I noticed a woman hard at work too. She was hard at work trying to figure out one of those word search puzzle games.
I walked by and said to her something like, “It looks difficult to do!” She answered to me, “Actually, it helps my creativity when I am out of work.”
And I thought to myself, “Hmm…this was a much better strategy while in transition!”
Exercise your mind
When in transition, it is important to engage the mind in new activities, which will in turn create new ideas. Start with vocation! Think about which work you could do for a lifetime that will give you the ability not to be dependent on others. This is important after 40 and beyond. The Buddha said long ago, “Work out your salvation and to not depend on others.” This is a good way to think about vocation (work which you could do forever). The more you are forced to perform work, which you do not like, the worst you will feel. Think back to when you did work and felt like you were volunteering. What was the experience?
Create new goals
Now is the time to create new goals around what is most important to you. This leads to work which will feel voluntary. This doesn’t mean you don’t get paid. It means the focus will be on the work which you have chosen and it will have meaning for you.
1-3 year goals
I suggest for those over 40 and in transition to define a 3 year goal which is clear and aligned with your values. This goal should be measurable. Next, select a 1 year goal and stepping stone towards the ultimate goal. Most important – decide, what you will do each and every day which will provide you with progress. This process leads to a greater sense of choice and control over your life and work.
We are only here a short time
There is no time better than the present to live a life filled with joy, happiness and doing work which has meaning. Now is the time to dance, sing (even if it’s only in the shower), smile, love, and give back to others. All of this can be done through vocation. Seldom can this be done through JUST a job or a career. With vocation a person and his work is united. The most important question to ponder after 40 is: “What work must emerge through me now?”
The work which inspires
I was in a bagel shop the other day. There was a table near the front of the store with bags of bagels. The sign read that this was the grateful bagel table and all the bagels were free. The sign encouraged people in need to take a bag of bagels and those who could afford to please leave a bag . It was clear to me that this shop did more than just sell bagels for a profit. The person who runs this place is a good role model for inspirational work. This is now my favorite bagel shop.
The search is your responsibility
Many of my clients feel guilty when they don’t complete their homework from me in our regular sessions. Many times a client will say, “Craig, I am sorry but I didn’t complete the homework.” The search for vocation is a call to be responsible for your own life and to not leave your life INCOMPLETE. This is a big move.
It takes a sense of urgency, re-examination, and assessment of what was done before and what needs to be done now.
Indian thinker Krishamurti believed that there are many people who want to be famous because they don’t love what they do. He believed our present success is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing.
Results become more important than action.
How do you discover what to do?
A Japanese proverb says: “Vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.” Spiritual leader Gandhi Mohandas believed that you must be the change which you want to see in the world.
What change do you want to see in the world?
What bothers you? What change in the world do you want to see and how can you contribute? It doesn’t have to be world hunger. It can be as simple as solving the problem that children don’t get enough exercise or improving access to the internet for the poor.
Who does work which you want to do?
When in transition find people who are doing what you want to do. Find and talk to people who are passionate about what you love to do as well.
Be open to new experience
Work on getting to know yourself at a deeper level. Psychologist Carl Rogers said, “It was important to create and be involved in activities which is both satisfying and truly expresses one’s core self.” Writing this article for you does this for me. What activity would do this for you? This is the best time of your life if you are willing to look at your life with a new perspective.
I’ll be cheering you on as you go – Craig Nathanson.