career

Fulfilling your Dreams

Years ago, I wrote a book called, Road to Fulfillment, about men and women who made meaningful mid-life changes.  After the age of 50 they fulfilled their dreams. 

I was reminded of the book when I read a June 9, 2019 article in The Washington Post called, “Changing Channels: Millions of women wait years to fulfill their dreams – or to figure out what their dreams are.”

It’s Your Time

The article states that after 50, many women do what they once considered selfish – they achieve ambitions that make them feel productive and satisfied, professional milestones that are difficult to pursue while taking care of a family and paying their bills.  Please note that I believe many men feel the same about this time of life.  In fact, both men and women ask me to help them answer the questions: “What’s next?  What has meaning now?

Taking Stock

This makes sense.  After 50 we take stock of our lives and want to make the most of the remaining years.  After 50 we know our strengths and want to use them in a way that makes a significant difference.

In the article, Patricia Forehand, a retired educator turned comedian says, “After I retired, I took the teacher mask off and really cut loose…. I feel like I can be myself again.”

It Takes Time to become Good

The singer Bettye LaVette, hit it big after the age of 60.  She says, “It’s much better to find success later in life.  It takes a very long time to become good.  Iris Gomez, a lawyer turned novelist agrees.  “My work has gotten richer as I’ve matured.”  She adds, “People say you can have it all as a woman, just not at the same time.  There’s truth to that.”  Another woman, Suzanne Wilson, became a doctor 25 years after being accepted to medical school. And she believes that her experiences raising a family will make her a better doctor than she would have been earlier.

Life’s Travails Make Us Better

In my book, Road to Fulfillment, a male writer turned therapist, describes the pain and suffering he needed to endure in order to become the wise therapist he is today.   A realtor turned minister feels the same. 

Changing Values

Others in the book describe how their values changed over time.  I often hear people over 50 say that now that their children are grown, fulfillment comes from living simply and making social contributions through work with non-profits and volunteering.  Others said you shouldn’t wait until the time when you have enough money.  Start where you are today.  Begin to live your dream now.  Reading their stories in Road to Fulfillment will inspire you.

What’s next for you?

Learning from Mistakes

Be bold, if you're going to make an error, make it a doozy. Don't be afraid to hit the ball.
Billie Jean King.
Life had its ups and downs. Keep swinging.
Hank Aaron

Taking Risks

Did you see the Brené Brown #BrenéBrown “Call to Courage” video on Netflix?  It’s about vulnerability, courage, and risk taking.  When’s the last time you took a risk?  How did it turn out?

Failing Forward

I taught a workshop this week on learning from failure or failing forward.  We talked about difficult situations that had unexpected benefits.  I had plenty of examples.  I thought getting divorced would be catastrophic, but I’m so much happier now.  I’ve lost many jobs, but almost always landed in better ones.  I’ve led projects that failed, but I learned lessons about leadership and how my attitude impacted the outcomes.

Now that I’m older, I can see that some of “my mistakes” came from passive-aggressive behavior when I was unhappy with someone or the organization.  Too bad that I lacked the maturity to see what I was doing at the time.

Mistakes cause us to reflect.  They give us feedback about our lives.  We learn and grow…and become more mature.  I hate to think where I would be now if I hadn’t taken some risks and made lots of mistakes.

Big Changes

My girlfriend just called to tell me that she’s worried because her daughter is moving to Los Angeles on her own; she’s leaving the college town she’s lived in since college graduation.  L.A. is the perfect place for the young woman to pursue her career, but it also takes courage to leave friends and family behind.  Her family may feel she’s making a mistake, but this is how she’ll grow and mature.

Procrastination

My girlfriend’s boyfriend plans to remodel is bathroom, but he’s afraid he’ll use the wrong tiles or paint color so he’s procrastinating.  We all do this to some degree.  We wait and wait for inspiration or certainty.  I’m learning that if I make a mistake, I can usually fix it.  It might take time and money, but it’s better than taking no action.

Where have you been procrastinating?  Now is the time to move forward.  If you need support, let me know.

Take a chance.  I want to hear how it goes.

Be Honest with Yourself

I am a believer in positive thinking.  I’m also a believer in being realistic.  What this means is that even if you have a clear goal, you still need to rationally assess your current situation and readiness to attain the goal.

In my coaching practice I talk to people in their 60’s and 70’s who want to return to full-time work in the profession they had in their 50’s.  Some of my clients are successful at “going back,” especially if they work in healthcare where seniors are often hired.  On the other hand, an honest discussion often reveals that a backup plan or a modified goal will lead to a better outcome.  Here’s what I mean:

Suppose David, who is 70, wants to return to full-time corporate training.   We will talk about David’s health and energy level, since the employer will look at this.  We will discuss David’s plan for staying up-to-date on corporate training needs and strategies.  For example, which online software programs is he skilled at using for developing training?  Does David need additional training to be competitive?  We need to consider David’s networking contact list.  What is David’s communication and marketing strategy?

I can help David prepare for the job search, but I need David to be clear and honest about his goal.  Is he truly healthy enough for full-time work?  Is he still mentally sharp?  Will his current skills allow him to “talk the talk” of younger and “up-to-date” colleagues?  How well does he work with younger people? Has David maintained his professional contacts, and, if not, how can he build new ones?

During an honest discussion, if David says that his health is not optimal, and his skill level is not where it was, then David and I can explore suitable goals.  For example, perhaps David can enhance his skills and then work part-time for established training companies that use hourly or daily contractors.  Depending on his interests, perhaps David can develop his own training programs and market them through social media.  David could reengage with professional and networking groups.

There are many possible goals and next steps.  The key is to be honest about the current situation.  Working with a coach can help you move from hopeful, positive thinking to realistic thinking that results in positive outcomes.