For more than 20 years my primary focus was working my way up the corporate ladder in the marketing department of a large pharmeceutical company. Every day I work hard, but lately I have this sinking feeling in my stomach that just will not go away. I finally realized that it’s my career. I don’t enjoy my work anymore. I look back now after spending nearly half of my life working in an unsatisfying job, with few genuine accomplishments. I’m sad that the goals and dreams I set so long ago are just memories. I feel like I need to make a change. What can I do? Should I make a career change that could make the second half of my life more meaningful and fulfilling?
If you can dream it, you can do it! – Walt Disney
This is not an uncommon scenario. A growing number of adults are looking at their 40s, 50s, and 60s as the right time to start fresh in an entirely new field. What drives adults to change their careers? The answer, in a word, is midlife. Craving a more fulfilling and meaningful career is just one area of focus during midlife adjustment. As we reach midlife, we realize how short time really is. Suddenly the importance of achieving goals and doing what makes us happy becomes much more important. This is the time closet authors, entrepreneurs, musicians or artists will begin thinking about careers to match their energy, vitality, and passion for life. So you are in very good company.
From adolescence to age 30, most of us are consumed with learning how to become who we think we want to be. We go from our 30s to our 40s working and living that role. But at age 40, midlife, after having reached and maybe surpassing these goals, many discover it wasn’t what we wanted to do after all.
Longer life expectancy plays a part, too. At midlife, we realize we still have nearly half a lifetime yet to live and wonder how we will spend those years. We know we’re going to have a lot of healthy years, so I think it’s a period of making choices to live out dreams that were shelved so long ago.
The lesson we can take is that midlife should not be feared, and that the sinking feeling in your stomach should not be ignored. Changing your job, career, or lifestyle may take some work. But if you truly follow your passion, the effort will provide infinitely positive results.
Are you ready to make a change? Here are a few tips for getting started on a successful second career.
Make of list of what is missing in your life. Do you long to revive a passion from your youth that you never found time to pursue? Is it music, a sport, writing, cooking, entrepreneurship? It doesnt’ matter what, as long as it’s something you truly have a desire to do. If you’ve already got a clear picture of the passions you’d like to pursue, then identify small, achievable ways you can start incorporating them into your life.
Imagine what could be if money were not an issue. How would you spend your time each day? Think of the environment you’d like to be in, the people you’d want to know, and how you would relate to them. What activities would you engage in? Chances are your passions come to the surface when you play-out your “winning the lottery” fantasies. Although we’re not all destined to be millionaires, that shouldn’t hold you back from following your desires and placing more value in yourself, regardless of your bank account balance.
Tap into your wisdom and experience to re-evaluate your current career. Ask yourself what’s not working and what you want to change. Use this time to reflect on your life. Are there any passions or dreams that you abandoned in your youth? If you don’t know what you want to do, try volunteering as a way to develop new interests. Find a way to live your passion everyday.
Understand your passion, know your strengths. It’s critical to take an inventory of your life and to determine what is really important. Make a list of the things you are passionate about, and then narrow the list to items that present an opportunity to generate income. If you’re not pursuing your passion, what’s in the way? What do you need to do to move forward with pursuing your plan?
Don’t quit your day job – yet. You don’t have to quit your day job to focus on your passion. It is not an all or nothing proposition. I meet people all the time who say they’re working full-time and pursuing their dreams on the side, in their free time. You may still need to earn a living while you transition onto your new path. This is true whether you are planning to start a business or preparing to establish a new career.
Start now! Over the next 30 days; make a commitment to yourself to identify one thing you can do to begin pursuing your passion and start doing it! Research ways to integrate your passion with your current obligations and take those first steps into your second career with achievable goals. You’ll soon discover that living and working your passion is being in control of your own life.