Maybe you need a new dream?

Dreams come true. We enjoy them. And then it’s time for a new dream (rinse, repeat).

This cycle goes on throughout life, but seems to really come up for many between 40 and 50. It doesn’t mean the old dream isn’t still wonderful, just that it is completed (you got the t-shirt).

That’s what it felt like for me back in 2008, when I decided to take an early retirement package. I was leaving a great corporate job that for me that had truly been a dream come true when I began 16 years prior. Yes, I still liked working there, doing interesting work, with great people.

But, gradually, I realized I wasn’t really learning anything new, and admitted to myself that didn’t really want to climb the corporate ladder any longer. The days had a “same-ness” to them and the dream job wasn’t as fulfilling as before. It was a still a great job; it just didn’t feel like it was my job any more.

[tr-shareit text=”Many of my coaching clients who are 40+ years of age have those same stirrings of unrest, feeling like something is missing.” sites=”twitter,facebook,pinterest,google,tumblr,linkedin” align=”center”]Many of my coaching clients who are 40+ years of age have those same stirrings of unrest, feeling like something is missing.[/tr-shareit]

They know a change is in order, but are frustrated by not knowing what is wanted instead. They need a new dream. While there is discomfort in that place of mild discontent, it can be a great pivot point toward something new.

William Bridges writes in Transition, his classic book on change process, that every beginning starts with an ending.

For me, the discontent with the “dream job” was the start of an ending, which awakened my curiosity to dream anew. It was time to dream again!

I wanted help, so I hired a coach, and came up with a new vision for what’s next in life. Over time, I decided to reconfigure, retool, and redeploy myself to begin my “encore career” of being a professional coach, consultant, and educator.

Since dreams don’t always instantly appear, what can you do if you don’t know what it is you want?

In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain offers up three things to think about to help find your deep personal “core projects.”

  • First, remember what you loved to do as a child – how did you answer “What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate toward.
  • And third, pay attention to what it is you envy. I recommend you spend some time pondering and journaling on these three provocative steps, and notice what shows up.

If any of this rings true for you, consider joining me April 26 when my colleague Jude Olsen and I host “Refocus. Reinvent. Rebuild. A seminar for the next chapter of your life.” This one-day workshop in Arlington, TX, is designed for individuals and couples over 40. For more information, visit

Mid-Life Reinvention: You 2.0

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.

[tr-shareit media=”” text=”The youngest Baby Boomers turn 50 in 2014, so there is growing interest to increase meaning, contentment, and satisfaction.” sites=”twitter,facebook,pinterest,google,tumblr,linkedin” url=”” align=”center”]The youngest Baby Boomers turn 50 in 2014, so there is growing interest to increase meaning, contentment, and satisfaction.[/tr-shareit]

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!

Online Community – PBS recently launched “Next Avenue” website and blog, connecting those of us 50+ with resources, ideas, inspiration and connection . AARP offers “Life Reimagined

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

Better Together: Who’s on your Team for Success?

A few years ago, a tax preparation company used “You’ve got people!” as a tagline. Their TV commercials showed a satisfied client bragging “I’ve got people,” confident and at ease that they had a trusted tax experts in their corner. This really resonated with me, having just retired from corporate life to launch an “encore career” of coaching, change management consulting, and teaching. It became quickly clear to me that going solo doesn’t mean going it alone. We ALL need help from others.

Corporate life offers infrastructure that is often taken for granted – office space, structure, steady work flow, and a regular paycheck with benefits. Support for payroll, accounting, IT, and HR are all taken care of by the “mother ship” employer. Replacing all those benefits and services required me to either do it myself or “outsource” (ask for help).

Outsourcing those things I don’t know how to do, am not good at, or are outside my core business focus led to creation of my professional “Team for Success.” I sought and engaged professional help from a CPA, a web designer, a financial advisor and (of course) a coach. A sense of relief comes from knowing “I’ve got people!”

A Team for Success can be much more than just tactical, transactional vendor-client relationships. The Team for Success should also be of strategic importance, by partnering with trusted colleagues who do similar or complementary work for brainstorming, collaboration, and especially for referrals. And, this means you also are on the other’s Team for Success, too, adding value for everyone by strengthening and extending networks.

You probably have a Team for Success of your own in some measure right now. Think what might happen if you take a more formal approach to develop your team. If this concept intrigues you, I offer some actions to consider:


  1. Be curious. Honestly assess your current situation. Who are your “people” now, on your current team?
  2. Determine gaps. What skill set, expertise, tools, information or support would be most helpful? Where are you block or feeling stuck?  What do you really want? (See my earlier blog about Asking for Help)
  3. Ask for help. Identify who you want on your success team,  then get their support. Paid or unpaid, formal or informal, seek and receive assistance by hiring, bartering, partnering, or networking. (Remember: “don’t ask, don’t get!”)
  4. Reciprocate. Whose success team are you on? Whose team do you want to join? Where can you bring value and be of service?  Offer to be on their team.
  5. Rinse, Repeat. Continue developing your own Team for Success. It’s a process not an event. [/box]

No matter the context of life, great satisfaction can come from confidently saying “I’ve got people!”

So, who are your “people”– your Team for Success?


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