I recently read a story in Susan Crandall’s inspiring book “Thinking About Tomorrow Reinventing Yourself at Midlife” about a man named George O. George earned a degree in horticulture, worked for the USDA, and later had a thriving career in the banking industry. He had been successful in all of his careers, but none were his passion. To the amazement of his friends and family, George left banking and bought a small-town zoo. He is now a happy zookeeper, passionate about his new life.
What made George reinvent himself in his mid-forties? A wake-up call came when his brother-in-law was killed in a plane crash. This made him realize: “I could die tomorrow and miss out on something I really wanted to do.” This is George’s lesson from his reinvention:
“Owning a business can mean longer hours than you’d ever imagined working, but suddenly that’s more than okay. There’s a new calculus when you’re doing something you love.”
Midlife reinvention is becoming the passion of many of us baby boomers, who are finally willing to listen to that quiet inner voice telling us it’s time to move on and find a life we truly love – before it’s too late. I, too, chose to listen to my inner voice and left a corporate job I had for 24 years. I now consider myself happily “unemployable”. Owning and operating two businesses is stressful and exhausting at times – but I would never trade my new life for the old one. I prefer having the freedom to make up my life as I go along.
Do you feel that you’re gifted or talented in a particular area, but you’ve never had the time to find out if you’re right? Is there something you’ve been dreaming about doing your entire life, but have been too busy raising children and paying the mortgage to give it a fighting chance? There comes a time in our lives when we realize that it doesn’t matter how gifted, talented, or attracted we are to something if we choose to ignore it and bury our heads in the routine of everyday life. And then the question in your mind becomes, “How old is too old to pursue my dream?”
Here’s another example of midlife reinvention or re-creation, from Positive Thinking Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007. Judi W. retired from a successful 20-year career to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a flight attendant – at the age of 62. This was her second new career. At the age of 42 she earned her funeral director license. Although she loved taking care of people, it was difficult moving up in that male-dominated field. However, she worked hard and became the first female funeral director at the company she worked for. This experience gave her the confidence she needed to move into her real dream career as a flight attendant. Now she flies 12 legs over four days, then has 10 days off. Judi says, “By the end of the 10 days, I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work”. Here are Judi’s tips on how to do what you love and love what you do.
“You’re never too old! I took on new careers at 42 and 62.”
“Look out for #1. When you take care of yourself, no one else will need to.”
“Have an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful for everything you’ve been given.”
If you’re thinking about re-creating your life, here are some thoughts for you to consider.
Seeing your life as little and insignificant doesn’t serve yourself or anyone else. Recreating yourself may be just the thing you need to do to serve the world. You were born with the power to create yourself in whatever manner you choose. However, the changes you want must be done through you – not to you. No one outside of you can give you a magic potion that will bring you the results you are looking for. These results must be earned by your willingness to see in new ways and by letting go of old, limiting beliefs.
If you’re looking for peace in your decision to make the changes necessary to recreate yourself, first find the peace within yourself by finding your truth. Your strength to make life changes comes from knowing yourself and what’s true for you. What compels you to live fully and passionately? If you can’t find your truth, then the time may not be right to make a drastic change in your life. Making changes at the wrong time can lead to stress; and stress robs you of your peace, good health, and well being. In my life, I have found that anything that feels stressful is not a right decision. If you already feel physically ill and overly stressed, anxious, nervous, and unable to function at your full capacity, consider waiting and reevaluating the changes you’re considering. The time may be right at a later date.
Take it one step at a time. Drastic changes are difficult to undo. It may be best to take baby steps on the way to your re-creation. If it’s a career change, you may need to take a vacation and spend part of it “walking in someone’s shoes” who is already doing what you think you want to do. There is nothing like the education of actually doing the work of your aspired profession. There are resources on the internet that offer “career tryouts”, which would place you in a volunteer internship lasting 1 to 30 days. This would allow you to be a silent observer or active participant, depending on your level of skills and courage.
Be aware of how this re-creation will affect the parts of your life that are most important to you. It’s likely that a career or life change will take a great deal of your time, at least in the beginning stages. If spending time with your family and friends is a high priority for you right now, consider this in the choices you make about career directions.
Be willing to face and embrace the unknown. Trying to look too far ahead may keep you right where you are. If I had known what was ahead of me, I’m not sure I would have made the decisions I made. I would have missed out on my new life that holds all the unlimited possibilities of freedom and abundance.
Contrary to what the media would have you believe, there’s plenty of time to re-create your new life. Remember, it’s the feeling behind the form that tells you what you really want. Consider this – if you can find a way to create that feeling right now, your steps to creating your new life will come easier and more quickly, if you decide to move forward.