Steps to Mid-Life Vocational Passion
There's a famous song lyric that asks, "Is
that all there is?" Every five seconds,
an American or Canadian 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
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
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
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 excitement.
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.
Three: Tune Out Negative Feedback
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: Build Your Support Network
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; and 3) "believers"
- this group 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
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 financial means.
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?
What's the worst that can happen?
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 path.
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.
Craig 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
where you can sign up for his next Tele-class.