Jason is a 40-year old quality improvement manager at a huge conglomerate where he’s spent his entire career. He is successful, earns good money, and has a really nice life going. But there’s a gnawing feeling that there is something more life.
Joyce, 52, felt stuck in her upper-middle management communications role at a major corporation. With her two great kids in college, a burgeoning healthy relationship with her fiancé, and a wide circle of friends, she too felt uneasy about her professional life.
By most measures, both Jason and Joyce are successful in their lives and careers, enjoy good health, relative comfort financially, and express general gratitude for what they have accomplished and acquired. And yet, they are experiencing discontent, a stirring that what they’ve worked toward so far in life isn’t satisfying.
Joyce and Jason, composites of many of my coaching clients, are experiencing what Dr. Wayne Dyer describes in his excellent book The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning. There are many life-stages theories, explaining various phases of our lives; I really resonate with Wayne’s “shift from ambition to meaning” model. From childhood to between 40-50 years of age, most all of us notice that there are more years in the “year-view” mirror than ahead in the windshield.
We’ve worked ambitiously to achieve many goals we set forth in careers, in building families and lives, and acquiring a lot of the “stuff” that are trappings of success in our culture. What’s more, we are living longer than any other time in human history, and yet all those extra years need not be simply extension of misery and decline at life’s end.
Instead of focusing on acquiring more stuff, the relentless climbing of the corporate ladder, or competing to get ahead, the shift is one that moves our attention toward looking ahead and giving back, being of service, building a legacy.
Viewing this mid-life metamorphosis as a natural, beautiful, and yes, even thrilling, “shift” is more satisfying and pleasurable than viewing it as a “mid-life crisis” that it has been characterized in media for decades.
It’s your choice how to view this shift (change is inevitable, drama is optional!) Many have found that buying a red Corvette or finding a new trophy spouse aren’t very satisfying responses to the stirrings of mid-life.
So what alternatives are there?
What will you do with the awesome gift of extra years of good health, productivity, and wisdom of a lifetime of success in being ambitious?
I love helping mid-career, mid-life professionals to reinvent themselves, creating a plan to make a graceful and mindful transition from ambition to meaning. Here are some suggestions, based on coaching many clients who are doing a “mid-life makeover, from the inside out”:
Read – there are excellent books available on mid-life and beyond. Just a few are Dr. Dyer’s The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning; Marianne Williamson’s The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Mid-Life; and, The Third Chapter; Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 years after 50 by Sara Lawrence- Lightfoot. There are LOTS more that focus on career, family, service, entrepreneurship, health, and community. Check out what’s there, and what you are attracted to most, and then read!
Give Back – Many mid-lifers remain in their careers, and also volunteer their time to causes that move them, e.g. English as a Second Language, animal rescue, mentoring.
Encore Career – Many are changing the direction and structure of their work lives, many of us going back to school, or starting our own businesses, doing things that make their hearts sing. This is not for everyone, but it’s not as scary (I call it “thrilling”!) as you imagine, and there is lots of support available. Going solo doesn’t mean going it alone!
Coach – Coaching is an awesome power for transformation. Working with a professional coach gives you a thinking-partner to explore what you want, what’s in the way, what help you need, and come up with a plan of action, then hold you accountable.
My colleague Jude Olsen, PhD, and I are hosting “Refocus. Reinvent. Rebuild. A seminar for the next chapter of your life” on April 26, in Dallas/Fort Worth. The one-day workshop is designed to help individuals and couples over 40 to:
- Develop a clarified vision of what you want your life to look like as you move forward
- Create a plan for making your vision a reality
- Learn how to integrate self-renewal/self-nurturing practices into your daily life
- Experience meaningful connection and sharing with like-minded people at your life stage
- Enjoy creative expression and quiet reflection to get in touch with your physical/emotional needs
- Stay on track with your goals with an introductory call with a professional coach, plus a group follow-up conference call after the session
For more information, or to enroll, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7282326635/eivtefrnd