thrive in work after 40 despite challenging times!
By Craig Nathanson - The Vocational Coach™
A challenging time
This is a year of financial turmoil in which millions of people
around the world have seen their retirement nest eggs shrink,
and their houses decrease in value. For many, a generalized
anxiety about their future keeps them up at night.
While I can appreciate this current state, in many ways this
panic is self-induced by our society. I have never understood
the concept of investing for the future when the present isn't
providing a joyful and fulfilling life.
An unhappy and unfulfilling life is the current state for millions
of Americans, and according to my research, this proves true
for most people over forty when it comes to work.
The majority of people just wait out their work years, until
the time when their investments are big enough for them to finally
retire, so they can do something else. The problem with this
strategy, as we've seen in the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009,
is that life gets in the way.
Retirement no longer makes sense
Retirement is no longer an idea that makes sense. People are
living longer, in many cases well into their eighties, and the
idea of simply retiring twenty, or even thirty, years earlier
no longer makes sense. We have the word "retire" thanks
to the French, and it originally meant to "slow down"
or "crawl under." That is the last thing people want
to do in mid-life.
As I write this article, I am fifty-two years old, and I feel
like I am thirty-two. I have more energy now than I did in my
younger years, and I have many projects planned. The thought
of stopping my work feels no different to me than the thought
of dying. And this is exactly what happens to most people when
they stop working. They grow old and bored quickly, which leads
to a focus on the past, followed by death.
The idea I would like to present is that at mid-life, we should
stop working at "just a job," and starting living
an authentic life.
In 2001, I trademarked the term "vocational passion."
What I mean by vocational passion is to live your vocation doing
work that aligns with your abilities and interests.
Vocation is work that is joyful, coherent with your integrity,
and that provides meaning to your life. Vocation is work that
never stops until you stop breathing.
Your best long term investment is to do work that fits you
"just right." You can begin to take charge of your
life and your work now, and stop waiting for Someday to come.
What can we learn from others who traveled this road of an
When you have faith in yourself and others, magical things
can happen in your life, despite the odds!
It is easy to become overwhelmed when life's challenges hit
after forty. Many times life can suddenly feel like a game that
is just too difficult to play.
Suddenly everything a person has come to define as success
seems to crumble. This happens to many people. It can feel so
overwhelming; some people decide to give up. The problem with
this strategy is that there is no one who will come to the rescue.
It takes a new strategy, one that may go against society's expectations
of success or what you have been taught.
It is only when redefining what success after forty really
means, and learning new ways of measuring success, that your
authentic life filled with purpose can emerge.
It will not come all at once, but in pieces. One day you feel
a little lighter on your feet, the next day new ideas emerge,
and suddenly you realize your life is in your control and determined
by your feelings, actions, and your desired direction.
Taking the time to reflect deeply about your needs and desires
after forty is not only important for finding purpose, it is
With a new sense of purpose you can start to lead a life that
allows you to give back. You learn that you really do control
more of your life than you are led to believe. Only then will
your natural gifts and talents start to emerge, and your life
will never be the same.
Life will be richer and deeper, and you will live it with more
Make a decision and action
Once you figure out what is most important to you, it takes
a decision and action to move towards doing more of what you
love in your vocational life. This can be challenging if you
have fallen into a pattern of doing what you have always been
After forty it is much better to follow a path of your passions
and interests, and learn as you go, rather than continue down
a road of doing work you are no longer interested in.
Take small steps
A new vocational path takes small steps. These steps can start
from a simple new idea. This idea only comes from deep thought
and the realization that what you are doing is no longer working.
In fact, a deeper self-awareness brings new insight that your
life doesn't fit anymore. As with those six year-old jeans still
hanging in the closet, you need to make an effort to throw away
the old. Only after the old is discarded do new possibilities
After forty, it is important to examine your abilities and
interests, and focus where the alignment is just perfect. This
can bring fulfillment, joy, and meaning back to your life.
Again, this must be a solo exercise; you must be free of external
views and opinions.
Trial and error
Sometimes it takes trial and error before your life starts
to work just right. Be patient with yourself while starting
down the road to insight and self-discovery. With each new step,
small pieces of evidence will emerge that this new life built
around what you prize can actually work.
After forty, it is mandatory to be selfish about your life
and work. Only then can a life of integrity and authenticity
I’ll be cheering you on as you go - Craig Nathanson
Craig Nathanson is the author of "Don't JUST retire and
die: A new approach to your life and work after 40" and
a coaching expert who works with people over forty.
Visit Craig’s online community at http://www.thevocationalcoach.com
where you can take a class, get more ideas through Craig Nathanson’s
books and CD’s, get some private coaching over the phone
or in Craig’s office, or read other stories of mid-life
change and renewal.
Craig lives and works in Petaluma, California. His office
is located atP.O Box 2823, Petaluma Ca, 94953. You can reach
him at 707-775-4020 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craig's Vocational Passion Newsletters are edited by Anita
Flegg at The Sharp Quill. The Sharp Quill -- www.sharpquill.com
-- specializes in writing and editing for small business. You
can see Anita's vocational story at http://www.thevocationalcoach.com/_vocational_community/_real_stories/story_anita.html
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