Notice I said “now”?
Before 40, it is easier just to accept any work. After all it pays the bills, gives us a job title and a sense of belonging in the world. The problem with this after 40 is that it becomes too easy to settle into a mundane life. It put one’s life on hold until there is a crisis which will happen after 40. Worst case, nothing will happen until retirement and then all those plans that waited until someday can get impacted by some event, economy crash or any personal crisis.
Who are you?
What must now emerge through you? Answer these questions: “I am a person who…? The work I really want to do now in my life is…?” Examine your answers. At this point of your life do you most want to work alone, with others, with large or small groups? Which work best aligns things which you are deeply passionate about, interested in, and which you feel you can do or learn to do?
Whose work are you jealous of?
Did you ever notice another person’s work and say to yourself: “I wish I could do that”?
What work was this? What small step could you take today to learn more about this work for yourself?
We become trapped by ourselves
That is so easy. We get stuck in routines and as a result, we grow farther and farther from making the changes we need to make in mid-life. Examine your own life right now. Where are you stuck and how does this impact your work? Are you doing the work you love or just surviving day to day to pay the bills? What could you change in your life to break this pattern? Could you move to a less expensive area? Could your spouse start working? Could you start selling a product or service on the side to create extra income? Could you get a student loan and go back to school and get additional education in an area you are really passionate about?
So what work fits you JUST right?
Think about it. Do you like to teach or consult others? Design things or work with numbers? Help people or exercise? Where do you most want to contribute now? The world has so many big challenges now! Where can you contribute? Does your work give you a sense of a bigger purpose about your life?
An important exercise right now
Imagine I gave you 50 million dollars right now. What would you do with it? Six months from now after a little traveling, paying bills and buying stuff, how would you spend the rest of your life?
What would be the pattern of your day?
This is an important exercise to ponder. Now let’s imagine I took away the 50 million, what did you learn from this exercise? I have discovered that people who are doing what they love would not change much with or without the money. Those doing JUST a job would make radical change if they had the money.
This isn’t practical!
“This isn’t practical!”A typical excuse I hear from people in the middle part of their lives why they don’t pursue the work which they love. It prevents people from living an authentic life. Do your relationships support what you want to do now? If not, change your relationships. Does your money situation control every move you make? Make a plan to control your flow of money better. Do you ask for permission from others before deciding what to do? Give yourself permission first! The mind can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is made up when dreaming of the future. If you can envision it, you can do it!
Perhaps it’s time for change?
Perhaps the work you did before 40 helped to build ego and a money nest egg. Perhaps after 40, this same work no longer fits you. Perhaps it’s time for change. Does your current work bring you closer to your goals or farther? Do you have goals? Do these goals align with what is most important in your life?
It can be easy to hide
There are many places to hide from oneself in this world. We can hide behind lackluster jobs, financial problems, non-supportive spouses and friends and, of course, from ourselves. In the end this is a strategy that simply does not work.
Don’t wait for YOUR crisis to make change
Most people do. YOU can be different. Think deeply about the work which you most want to do now. Stop looking for JUST a job and instead envision the work which best fits you now. Which work brings you joy, coherence about your life and sense of self. What is the persona you currently are presenting to the world? Is this the one you are comfortable with? At your next dinner party when someone asks you, “What do you do?” How will you answer? Try answering with WHO you are vs. WHAT you do. This is a good practice.
Which work is JUST right for you right now?
Only you can answer this. Take time to ponder this question alone and without input from others.
This will be the best time you have ever spent with yourself and it will turn your life into a new direction, a direction which will bring you more happiness.
I’ll be cheering you on as you go – Craig Nathanson.