Forget Economic Meltdown. The Far More Important Worry: “Is Your Life What You Hoped It Would Be?” Why Haven’t You Added “Recareering” to the Top of Your Dance Card?
You’ve probably received your share of those sappy email forwards people pass around to remind themselves that we still care about each other. I just got one that ended with a comment worthy of sharing with you:
‘Life may not be the party we hoped for… but while we are here we might as well dance!’
Hmmm. A Bit of Upbeat Advice to Live Life with Passion Amidst All the Teeth-gnashing Financial Angst in My Mailbox Lately.
It Immediately Reminds Me Of Another Great Dance Aphorism: “Dance with the one what brung ya,” …
Combined, the two concepts offer great advice. Especially in these challenging times where you’re probably worried about the potential of economic meltdown.
Not sure how the old Southern cliche and the new “dancing/live life with passion” philosophy apply you at this point in your life? Here’s a story to illustrate it for you:
My friend Bob is frustrated with his current employment situation as a pressman for a major newspaper organization, and rightfully worried that he might lose his job in the next round of layoffs.
In thinking about his employment alternatives, he’s realized that the entire newspaper industry is in rough shape, so finding a new job as a pressman is going to be tough.
Meanwhile, in casting about for alternative employment opportunity options, he’s considering what many Baby Boomer-aged workers are dreaming about: changing careers. In his case, Bob doesn’t want to make as drastic a change as some people you may know. For example:
- He doesn’t want to convert himself from CPA to restaurateur
- Or from public relations account executive to blues guitarist
- Nor does he dream of making a transition from office administrator to yoga or Pilates instructor
- He’s not even thinking of making a switch from lawyering to growing and selling organic vegetables
All passion-oriented career changes others have tried…
No, Bob’s inspiration is a switch that will still involve him using his mechanical skills. He just wants to take them in a new direction. He’s been talking with his brother-in-law about a new, “green” technology in the construction industry that they both feel sure is about to take off – installing geothermal pumps.
A change that will have him working outdoors instead of inside, which he will enjoy. And one that will require extensive re-training.
It’s That Last Part That is Concerning Him.
As he explained his dilemma, he outlined the opportunity: “Geothermal heat pumps are similar to your regular heat pumps, except they use the ground instead of outside air to give you your heating, your air conditioning, even hot water. Since they use the earth’s own heat, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies around. Damn cool engineering.”
In other words, this is a “green” technology, and these days, just about everything green is good.
As Bob talked further, his zeal and enthusiasm – or passion – for the new technology became apparent. “These pumps are so energy efficient, I know there’s gonna be a TON of guys like you and me – homeowners looking to save money and energy – who are going to want to install them. Especially since it seems like our home energy costs are going to just keep going through the roof.”
Bottom line as Bob sees it:
- If he earns this new certification, he believes his employment future will be secure
- Instead of plying his superb mechanical skills working with an aging technology – where future employment is iffy – he’ll be positioned on the leading edge of a new one
- He’s feeling huge enthusiasm, or passion, for learning more about the potential new work, which excites him, and makes it worth getting up in the morning
- And he’s sure he’d be making some real good (and reliable) money going forward…
There’s just one thing troubling him: He’d have to become trained and certified for the new work, and the certification will take him four years to achieve.
His Biggest Questions as He Contemplates This Transition: Can His Family Financially Handle His Time in School, AND Is the Significant Investment of His Time and Money – At This Time in His Life – Likely to be Worth It?
- If he went back to school to learn this promising new trade, he would be 50 years old when he finished.
- My answer: “How old will you be in four years if you don’t go to school?”
- Of course Bob got the point: He’d still be 50 years old
- And, he realizes that if he doesn’t grab the opportunity to get new training now, there’s a big chance he’ll be even closer to unemployment in the future
In Other Words: Bob Would be Wise to Consider the Possibilities; Not Just Go for a “Knee-Jerk” Reaction Which Lets Age Keep Him From Investing Into An Enjoyable New Work Opportunity.
Especially since, if Bob gets into doing something he really loves and has a passion for, there are major life benefits.
First, instead of constantly running an employment treadmill, staying in a job in which he’s continually stressed out over the looming potential for unemployment, he’ll have developed new and desirable skills. Not to mention that everything else about his life will be so much more enjoyable once he’s spending his working hours doing something he enjoys!
- He’ll have a passion for his work, which is really important.
- He’ll benefit from a much stronger opportunity to be successful in his work
- Not to mention that his stress levels will be lower, making for a much more enjoyable homelife, too
Second, fifty just isn’t that old anymore. At age 50, Bob – or you, if you were in his shoes – still has 15 years of work/employment ahead of him before he reaches the traditional retirement age of 65 – plenty of time to make it worthwhile to change his career.
Besides which, the reality is, most Baby Boomers are going to work long past the old traditional retirement age of 65, so at 50 you’re realistically talking about having MORE than 15 working years ahead of you.
Third, despite an economy in recession, and Bob’s very real concern for personal economic meltdown if he leaves his current job, the opportunities for a midlife career change have never been better. In fact, a variety of factors currently work in favor of midlife career change, including:
- Changing attitudes toward older workers
- Rising demand for workplace experience
- More powerful job-search resources
- Employers’ pending recognition that they can’t afford to lose older workers. This is especially apparent in fields the fields of nursing, hospitality and utilities. Bob’s career change would factor into the latter arena.
So How Can Bob Make This Work? Especially Because He Wants to Avoid Financial Hardship While He Gets Things Going?
Despite all the opportunity, “recareering” – changing careers in midlife – can involve difficult and potentially life-altering decisions. Especially if going back to school forces an overhaul of your lifestyle or your family’s standard of living.
Bob clearly realizes that unless he comes up with a corrective plan in advance, in the short-term, his opportunity has the potential to:
- Damage his family life and maybe even cost him his friends
- Generate a lot of internal stress
- Significantly reduce the amount of time he has to relax and socialize
- Negatively impact his finances – in the short term
A Career Coach or Counselor Can Show You How, With Planning, All of These Negatives Can be Controlled.
For example, a career counselor would help Bob:
- Figure out his passion, if we weren’t yet sure of it; so he could be sure he was moving in the right direction.
- Advise Bob that he needs to make sure his family supports his decision
- Help him work out a strategy to make sure he can pay his bills while he’s getting refocused. (For example, Bob might have an option to take a buyout from his newspaper job, and live off some of his 401K savings for the short-term)
- Make sure his motivation to change is properly focused
Bottom Line: Since You’re Going to Be Working A Couple More Decades Anyway, Why Shouldn’t You Do Work You Enjoy – Something That Gives You the Opportunity to “Dance” a Bit Every Day?
And in terms of recareering and the concept of dancing with the one “what brung ya,” I believe that means you need to look into how you can:
- Develop work from a hobby
- Create income from something for which you have passion.*
- Incorporate skills you have, enjoy and in which you excel
In Bob’s case, those are his mechanical skills and his passion for helping people save money through use of a “green” technology.
What Are YOU Passionate About? What Makes YOU Dance? (And Are You Dancing Enough?)
*Not sure whether or not you actually have a passion for anything? Join the crowd. A lot of people are confused right now about how to live a life with passion. Yet making time to dance is so important.
This book, The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, will really help you figure it out. The book is by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. Here are a few great quotes that explain how powerful it is:
- “The simplest, clearest way to get started on knowing what you want—by getting clear on who you are.”
—T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
- “It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s profound.”
—Jack Canfield, cocreator of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul
- “[A] clear, simple, and effective method to help you identify your core passions so you can create the fulfilling life you deserve.”
—John Gray, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
Now, go forth and dance with passion!