As the New Year Approaches, Do You Have a Midlife Plan B?

As we approach the beginning of a new year, it’s a good time to map out the next stage of your life and your career. Do you genuinely enjoy what you do to earn a living? If you have a full-time job, you will spend almost 2,000 hours next year (almost 1/3 of your waking hours) on the job–and that assumes you work only 40-hour work weeks with no overtime and a full two-week vacation (a fantasy for many these days.) Now that you’ve reached mid-career, wouldn’t you like to spend most or all of those hours having a good time? Haven’t you earned that right?

As you already know if you are miserable at work, it’s not just about hours on the job. Sadly, I speak from personal experience: a stressful or unfulfilling job spills over into the rest of your day, spoiling home life, intimate relationships and relaxation. It’s not easy to leave all those frustrations at the plant, work site or office, is it?

A frequently recurring theme of this blog is taking personal control and mapping out your career–appointing yourself CEO of you. Why? In this modern age of free agency, the average adult in North America has seven different employers in his or her lifetime. In view of this anticipated turnover, do you really expect your boss to consider your career development as his or her top priority? In fact, no one cares as much about your future as you do!  You don’t want to leave your dstiny totally in your boss’s hands, do you?

Even if you are happy in your present job, it’s always best to have a backup “Plan B”.  Years ago I didn’t and it cost me several years of scrambling, desperation, disappointment and dispair. I had climbed the corporate ladder for fifteen years, reaching the coveted position of CFO of a west-coast insurance company. I loved my job and had my sights set on CEO once my elderly boss retired. Out of the clear blue, I lost my job following a corporate takeover. I had no Plan B and the result was a frantic job search, two foolhearty ventures that failed and many sleepless nights. Had I taken time out to think about what I really wanted, I might have written my two books and become a midlife motivational coach ten or fifteen years earlier.

Have you considered the possibility of working for yourself instead of putting in long hours for the benefit of someone else? Remember: it’s not just about ditching that boring or stressful job; it’s also about enjoyment of being alive NOW and embarking upon a solid path to a joyful and bountiful retirement. For many of us, the only potential for big money will come from from working for ourselves. Wouldn’t it be great if you could afford all those amenities you truly cherish (but not just to impress the neighbors down the street)? What if you could banish the words “I can’t afford to…” forever from your lexicon? Financial freedom may be within your grasp through your very own midlife Plan B!

What exactly is Plan B? Plan B is a comprehensive roadmap for the next stage of your life and career which begins with a definition of the tasks and functions you would most like to perform during the remainder of your career and the amount of money you will need to earn to fund a fun, carefree lifestyle for you and your family. Ideally, your hours on the job will be as fun as your hours at play, but you will balance the two. Someone actually will reimburse you to have a good time. Here’s the key: you need to assume primary control of your own destiny. Obviuosly, external factors will have a lot to do with your success or failure, but necessary midterm corrections must be within your control.

In certain rare cases, a person of exceptional talent can retain primary control of his or her destiny while working for someone else, but this is rare. If you prefer to continue as an employee, first take time out mentally from the stress of your current job (or from being unemployed) to produce your very own “ideal position description.”  If necessary modify this description to fit reality, routinely visualize yourself filling the ideal position and start reasoning and behaving like an incumbent. Next, research potential employers and market yourself into your dream position. You can sell yourself as a uniquely creative individual with an entrepreneurial spirit full of ideas to benefit both self and others–a true win/win proposition!

Don’t give up on the possibility of a new venture in the new year! If you’ve never been your own boss, how can you tell if you are up to buying or starting your own business? You must be prepared for each of the following:

  • Time on your hands with each day’s activities totally up to you. No assignments from the boss. Are you ready to set your own goals and manage your time?
  • At least for the immediate future, no more steady and certain stream of income.
  • Loss of corporate perks and benefits (paid vacation, employer-paid health care, accrued pensions and sponsored 401(k) plans.)
  • Willingness to share rewards with potential co-owners, business partners and loyal employees.
  • Loss of status with certain friends and neighbors.
  • In the early stages, long hours and no vacations.

Here are four key ingredients essential to a successful new business launch:

  1. A viable product or service to sell with sufficient differentiation from present competitors.
  2. Sufficient barriers to new entrants.
  3. Potential to establish viable long-term relationships with customers.
  4. A pool of potential venture partners or employees–in most cases you’ll need flexible and highly motivated individuals, like you willing to take big risks for big rewards and to work long hours with varied and hectic responsibilities.

We’ll have a couple of more blogs in weeks to come about launching your own Plan B for 2013. For some more ideas right now, tune in to the December 3, 2012 weekly broadcast of my Internet radio program, “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age” 0n Guest Kathleen Rich-New, author of the book YOU ALWAYS NEED A PLAN B helps guide you through the many steps needed to imagine, plan and launch your entrepreneurial venture into a brighter tomorrow.

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