Whether You Call It Your Craft, Your Calling, Your Profession, Vocation, or Career: Are You Blessed To Be Doing Work You Love? That Is, Have You Found Your Dream Job?

December 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Employment, Work, Money & Retirement

Zen and the Art of Your second Career

Are You Lucky Enough to be Making the Money You Desire While Simultaneously Working at Something You Love?

Or – after all these years in the workforce – do you still find yourself wishing you were able to support yourself and your family while pursing a career path you love; something that feeds your soul and excites you to the point that you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning?

Not to mention that it affords you ample opportunity to richly enjoy the lifestyle you deserve?

If You’re a Baby Boomer Still Looking for Your “Dream Job,” the Good News is That it’s Not Too Late to Find Your True Calling.

You can still find fulfillment by following your dreams into your second – or maybe even third – career.

Here’s one Boomer woman’s story as proof:

In 2002, Mary Sheahen, a registered nurse with oncology as her clinical specialty, was a busy Chicago-area healthcare executive who frequently found herself wishing there was some way she could do something related to the wellness side of the healthcare industry.

Which is why when she lost her CEO role in a corporate reorganization, she didn’t see it as a personal failure, she saw it as a chance to do something new and different, something for which she has real passion. As she puts it:

“I’d wanted to be on the wellness side of health care. And – having visited a few spas – I believed that a spa – done well – would serve that need. After all, as a nurse, I had seen the results of stress on illness!”

Mary followed her muse, and in July 2003 she opened Wild Clover Day Spa in the historic community of Galena, Illinois. The spa is conveniently located within the cozy and inviting Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel.

In developing her Wild Clover facility, Mary’s goal was to create a full service day spa – including a hair salon – that is a place her clients will happily seek out in order to get away from the stresses of life.  

Her aim was to create a place where clients of all ages would be able to:

  •  Rejuvenate their minds
  • Care for their bodies
  • Improve their spirits

And anyone who’s ever visited Wild Clover immediately knows how well she’s succeeded:

  • We offer all traditional spa services: massage, skin care, nail services, wraps and scrubs, hair care and group services” (Typical groups they serve include couples looking for romantic getaways, girlfriends seeking weekend escapes, families searching for fun ways to relax and rejuvenate and bridal parties, as well as occasional special programs for breast cancer survivors and victims of domestic abuse.)
  • “We are open seven days per week and focus on both health and beauty.
  • “We consider spa services as a way to care for yourself.”

Here How Mary Summarizes Her Efforts to Get Her Spa Business of the Ground:

  • At the time I was planning Wild Clover, I was on the front end of the spa “boom”. There was just one other spa in Galena and it was struggling to establish itself. As Galena is a resort community, where people are already coming to relax and rejuvenate themselves, I felt the opportunity was there!
  • I found a consultant to assist me and believe this investment was worth every penny.
  • At the time I was doing my research (2002 and 2003), I was on the front end of an emerging business trend so finding a consultant took some work. There are many more spa consultants available today.
  • In true business start-up mode, I created a business plan with the traditional projections for growth. It was helpful and as it’s a living document, we have continued to modify it as we have gone along.
  • Be sure your significant other is on board with you, especially if you are spending communal money – or your retirement funds. My husband is a big part of the spa and we could not do it if he were not.
  • I have learned so much: you have to have guts, persistence and discipline to stay the course when you can and to recognize when you need to course correct.
  • Five years later, I now know so much more than I did then. These days, given my experience, I could actually be a spa consultant!!!

As For How She Overcome Any Fears Related to Taking Her Retirement Money and Using It to Get the Business Started:

“I had a conversation with a good friend who told me that so many people get to the point of launching and then back off and regret it later. He came along at just the right time. I had decided that I would continue planning until something told me to stop…and here I am!”

If You Daydream About the “What If’s” in Your Life and Long to Finally Launch the Career of Your Dreams, Mary Offers This Advice:

  • “Go for it!! The second and third iterations of your career can be the most fun.
  • You have no doubt learned a lot and using those skills will help you in following your dream.
  • Know where your money is coming from.
  • Starting your own business takes guts but is well worth it.
  • I could sell the spa anytime and feel really good about it. We have been open over 5 years and have an excellent reputation…that means the world to me.”

But What About You? Are You, Like Mary, Thriving in a Career That’s A Perfect Fit? Or Are You Still Searching?

  • Even though you’re Baby Boomer chronologically, do you feel sort of like Peter Pan? Still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up?
  • Do you have a great job and a fine paycheck, but still find it hard to drag yourself out of bed on workdays?
  • Perhaps you’ve been laid off, or believe you’re facing the potential of a layoff?
  • Or maybe your retirement plans just went down in flames due to the recent economic meltdown?

If Any of Those Scenarios Describe You, Don’t Fret.

If you believe that “work” should not be a four-letter word; that your job should not just put bread on the table but also put a smile on your face, now’s the time to identify your dream job and the career path that will help you make the change.

Especially since, like so many Baby Boomers, you are now realizing that you’re not interested in a traditional retirement lifestyle, too boring.  No, since you’ve likely still got thirty more good years ahead of you, you’ve recognized that you’d really rather continue to be productive and contribute to society. Given ths crucial revelation, it’s not too late to make time for yourself, to FINALLY go after what you really want in life.

Are You Ready to Launch Your “Second Act” Career But Not Sure Where to Start?

One of the first steps is to do your “due diligence.”

Just as Mary Sheahen did, you should find a coach or consultant to assist you. Remember, she mentioned that her investment in a consultant was worth every penny.

I’d have to agree with her. As a coach, I’ve many times been called in to help “pick up the pieces” after people struck off on their own, launching businesses without doing the requisite soul-searching, strategizing and planning. Inevitably these folks have ended up totally miserable, when they absolutely wouldn’t have had to, had they done their research. 

Generally, “calamity happens” when people select a business that doesn’t match their skill-sets or interests. This is a tragedy that doesn’t have to happen, but too often does.

Here are a few examples:

  • A former faculty member at a medical college decided to buy and run an Indian restaurant.
    • He was Indian, so that part made some sense. 
    • But unfortunately, his personality is a bit abrupt, and he’s not at all comfortable with activities like greeting guests and making sure they are comfortable, happy and satisfied.
    • Nor did he enjoy crucial tasks like planning menus, ordering food or chef-ing. 
    • (Apparently, he went for the idea because he likes eating in good restaurants and there wasn’t a good Indian restaurant in his town!)
    • Obviously this is NOT a good enough reason to become a restaurateur!
  • Another case with an equally unhappy outcome involved an antiques dealer who bought a bed and breakfast, because she fell in love with the beautiful historic home and wanted to live there and decorate it.
    • The only way she could afford the mortgage was to continue running it as a B&B…
    • Fast forward a year and she’s learned that she has absolutely no interest in or aptitude for the business end of of inn-keeping.
    • Especially the parts that have to do with being a host and short-order cook for a half dozen strangers on a daily basis.
    • Not to mention the requisite changing of bed linens and swabbing of toilets!
    • Or the marketing effort required to even have guests to serve…
    • (Cash flow – which she had never investigated – was not such that she could afford a staff to handle these tasks. Not too many B&B owners can… )
  • And in a third case, an author client decided to start up a magazine because she loved to write and had great ideas for content.
    • She used an inheritance to rent on office, buy equipment and hire writers and photographers.
    • Sadly, her capitalization plans were totally inadequate.
    • (They relied on ad sales which didn’t happen.) 
    • That scenario ended in bankruptcy.

These Examples Are Not Here to Dissuade You From Pursuing Your Career Dreams. On the Contrary, They’re Here to Persuade You That You Really Must Do Your Research:

  • At a minimum, start by talking to people who own the sort of business you want to start. Find out if they would do it over again, as well as what they see as the potential pitfalls, and how you might be able to learn from their experience.
  • Better yet, try “job shadowing” someone in the area where you want to start your own business. Quite often, you’ll find business owners who are willing to let you work in their business for a month or two, while you “learn the ropes.”
  • Alternately, checkout a company called Vocation Vacations, which allows you to “test drive” new careers while on vacation.

Actually Vocation Vacations is a fascinating resource for you, since its sole reason for existence is to help people like you figure out what’s next, careerwise:

  • Founder Brian Kurth offers dozens of business owner coaches you can work with to “test drive” the new career of your dreams, while on vacation, and…
  • If you’re not sure what your dream job is – or want help to understand where your strengths and interests lie  – and how to use them to find the job and lifestyle of your dreams, check out their coaching package that includes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Complete Assessment PLUS working with a professional career coach who can help you evaluate the results and determine your course of action.
  • If you’re not ready to invest in one of Vocation Vacation’s mentored vacations, there are a number of free resources on their web site, as well.
  • Or, you can read Brian’s newly released book, Test Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love. This book is both a fascinating chronicle of Kurth’s personal journey to creating his own dream job AND a hugely useful sourcebook. You’ll find it especially helpful if you’re not in a place where you can afford a mentor or if you would prefer to set up your own new career “test-drive.”
  • Best of all, the book gives you:
    • Lists of questions to ask potential mentors
    • Charts to help in establishing an action plan
    • Reality-checks about money, health insurance and the impact a life-change might have on your relationships.

(All Really Important Stuff!)

Kurth also includes anecdotes about successful dreamers and profiles of people who needed a dream-adjustment. Again, this is hugely useful information. 

In fact, this book is so important to your finding the perfect second career that – if you do nothing else after reading this post – I urge you to grab a copy of this book and read it cover to cover! “Test Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love.”

What have you got to lose? Especially when you remember this life affirming mantra: “It’s OK for me to want to be doing work I enjoy that also makes me money!”


16 Responses to “Whether You Call It Your Craft, Your Calling, Your Profession, Vocation, or Career: Are You Blessed To Be Doing Work You Love? That Is, Have You Found Your Dream Job?”

  1. Richard@CD Duplication Chicago on December 23rd, 2008 8:55 am

    I think to be truly happy in life, one most be happy with the work they do. Far to many people hate their job and do it only because its a need. Find something your are passionate about doing and you will enjoy your work and your life much more.

  2. Cathy Warren on January 14th, 2009 10:10 am

    Mary is inspiring. She used her experience in health care to reinvent her self and create her dream job.

    I have been visiting this blog and decided that I can continue to learn a lot, and contribute to the dialog. But first, I want to be up front about my intentions. I am associated as a technical liaison with a new web site called the This web site is being expanded to include “Baby Boomers, Seniors, and those who follow.” Perhaps we can work together on a number of vitally important projects.

    The USA is now locked in the grip of an economic upheaval that promises to change the way we do business and live our lives. We recognize that many individuals who reach the age of 60 are not physically, mentally, or financially prepared to enjoy the so-called “Golden Years.” In order to meet the challenges facing us in these days of great uncertainty, we must take a critical look at how problems are approached and solved. Traditional methods just won’t cut it anymore. The time is NOW to literally re-invent the way we think and solve problems related to the ways we work and live. We call it “personal re-invention.”

    The team is developing a program to help Boomers and Seniors create and implement Personal Re-Invention programs. The first step was to create Personal Re-Invention Guidelines. The next step will be to offer participation in Personal Re-Invention Programs. Those willing to engage in critical assessment and change of current mind-sets will be invited to participate in online forums focused on “personal re-invention.” Personal identity need not be revealed.

    I invite you to check us out at And remember, we are evolving this web site. When we are ready, you can participate in “Personal Re-Invention.”

    I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

    Cathy Warren

  3. dm5430@Free ACT Test Prep on March 9th, 2009 10:59 am

    I think you are absolutely right on. Myself and a group of colleagues, who all have fairly good/rewarding jobs, decided to start a side venture (focusing on standardized test prep for ACT, SAT, GMAT, TOEFL exams etc.). It’s still pretty new, but we all enjoy it, and it definitely has shown some potential.

  4. Donna@Salon and Day Spa on March 27th, 2009 8:35 am

    Mary’s story rings true to the heart. Even if it’s not an instant success, the great relief and excitement of doing what you love on a day to day basis will keep you feeling young no matter your age. Thank you for the reminder to follow our dreams.

  5. stacie@Photographers in Bromsgrove on April 27th, 2010 9:33 am

    Hi Anne, this was a brilliant read. I have given up on a certain career path because I knew I would be miserable and now, I’m determined to do something that fits who I am and makes me happy. It believe everyone has to try it but it does help if you’re in a position in life to take the risks.

  6. Sabrina@boston wedding photographer on August 4th, 2010 4:24 am

    I came across this line about a year ago: “Do whatever it is that you love doing and the blessings will come.” This is the reason why I opted for early retirement — I was so fed up with the corporate world after being in it for almost a decade. I felt it was time to really enjoy life, do the things I’ve always wanted to do and possibly earn some money in the process. This sure beats dragging myself to work every single weekday.

  7. Tamara @ peanut costume on August 5th, 2010 2:30 am

    Hi, this really a wonderful blog. I find myself so filled with encouraging words that has to do with life, goal, purpose and every activity that has happened in man’s life. Your words really made me realized the significance of decision making in choosing and finding what we want to do in our life.

  8. Thez @ Shih Tzu Puppy Training on August 11th, 2010 7:58 pm

    All I know that I am fulfilled in my job but when I read your blog their such a line catches my attention “Be sure your significant other is on board with you” I realized that I have some people surrounded me not only for help but for sharing all the blessing that I have.

  9. dlf@photographers on August 13th, 2010 7:20 pm

    The heart is what drives purpose, not the mind or the ego. When someone has their heart in their work, meaning abounds; they are – and feel – purposeful in their work as well as in the rest of their life.

  10. kelly@Edutxt on August 26th, 2010 7:32 am

    My husband is in a position where he wants to quit his job and set up on his own. He has already started in his spare time and has a lot of clients but we’re still worried about if he becomes sick or if people don’t pay him. It’s tough to follow your heart when you have responsibilities.

  11. Ron from CD Duplication London on September 7th, 2010 12:37 pm

    Hi Anne, you have a very excellent idea here. For me, I can say that I got my dream job. I am working on my field of specialty and I love it. I became more encourage by your post. My point of view is when you’ve got a goal you must have the will. That’s what I did.

  12. Armil@ new career on November 17th, 2010 3:30 am

    Its really a blessed to be doing work you love. Because a successful career will start in every passion of things you have done.
    I believe that the harder you work the more you get near to the hall of fame.

  13. Julia@Job Vacancies on March 30th, 2011 9:48 pm

    What a clever article! Everyone’s dream is to find a balance between home life and work. Ultimately the wish list includes doing something that is a combination of home and work. I too believe in reaching for the stars and believe that you can achieve even your wildest dreams.

  14. Worcestershire Wedding Photographer on June 6th, 2011 7:04 am

    For years i have had many different jobs, working in a bank, Kitchen, garden centre, bar, furniture makers finally i found a true passion that was photography. until then i was stuck in a rutt that i couldn’t get out of.

    my 2 yr travels around the world did inspire me and since coming back to the UK I have setup doing the one thing i love an breathe.
    Wedding photography and portraits are my favourites. i cant believe how lucky iam to have a career / business that i can give 100% every day of the week.

    I am true believer in that there is something and someone out there for everyone. and now i am engaged to a beautiful girl called Emily so now i have everything

    keep on looking everyone i wish you well.

    much love to you all xx

  15. new houses for sale in post falls on June 23rd, 2011 10:36 am

    It is so good to be able to do something you like (and are good at) and get paid in the process too. Then, work would not really seem like “work” anymore when you loath Mondays and rejoice when Friday comes around the corner.

  16. meredith@ on January 28th, 2013 8:46 am

    Following your heart is what will fulfill you and thus makes you get up each morning to face the challenges of the day. Not as a negative tone, but as a way to learn about yourself in a deeper sense. I found also that a career coach does help to weed through one’s blocks and may help to see more clearly and set goals.