Here are three terms you should banish from your vocabulary:
- Blue Monday
- Mid-week “hump day”
At middle age, it makes absolutely no sense to remain trapped in a job or vocation where you dread each Monday morning, sigh with relief on Wednesday that you’re half done and rush out the door at close of business on Friday ecstatic that the weekend has finally arrived.
Of course you should continue to enjoy a great weekend, alone or with friends and family, doing precisely what you want to do. Here’s my point: at mid-career you no longer are an apprentice. You have earned the right to relish your career, whatever we do to earn a living, so that every work day holds something to look forward to. Life balance is the key; there is absolutely no reason not to enjoy daily living, both on and away from the job.
I speak from personal experience: a career you don’t admire is like a wet blanket to extinguish your dreams and diminish your expectations. Out of college and the Navy, I went to work as a financial analyst for a major worldwide manufacturing company. Within my first week on the job, I knew this was not where I wanted to spend the next forty years but there was no way I was going to look foolish by quitting. Of course I also needed the money.
Weeks turned to months and months turned to years and still I stayed. I can’t recall a single day when I looked forward to going in to work. I didn’t want my boss’s job or my boss’s boss’s job (neither of them appeared to relish what he was doing.) God knows why I hung in there striving for a silly promotion just so that I would be eligible for a company leased car. It’s not that I really wanted the car; it was simply a status symbol that you had reached the bottom rung of management.
Over the years hanging around in corporate finance, I became progressively smaller as a person and more embittered with my station in life. As my horizons shrunk, I began to envy and demean persons of my own age who had accomplished more: “they simply had better breaks along the way.” It’s not that my career was all bad. I had some good years among the bad. Over seventeen years, I worked for six different companies and rose to CFO of a $200 million insurance company. For thirteen years after that, I was my own boss as owner of a small business. At times, I actually looked forward to Monday morning, but the happy years were few and far between!
Let me contrast my present situation. In the year 2000, I “woke up” to the realization that I didn’t have to be unhappy and unfulfilled while earning a living. In fact, for the prior thirty years, I had been sleepwalking through life and career. Since my awakening, I have accomplished far more in thirteen years than I did in the prior thirty and I’m loving every minute of it. I have written two books, begun a weekly radio program, launched this blog and coached numerous others to make the middle years their best years. I wouldn’t trade my life today with anyone else in the world!
Workplace stress and frustration can kill you so right now is the best time to seek out a less-stressful, more fulfilling career. I know that job you’re in looked OK when you were hired. Don’t be like the poor frog who didn’t mind at all when he was placed in a pot of cool water on the stove and didn’t pay heed until it was too late when the water around him slowly started to heat until it became intolerable; he wound up as frog legs on somebody’s plate!
You don’t have to accept a bad boss, a massive workload, ridiculous time demands or a lack of meaningful projects Instead of routinely complaining, “I can’t keep doing this work!” why not honor yourself with a mental vacation? It may at first sound impossible, but what if for the next thirty days (or longer if need be) you were able to free your spirit and emotions from the daily pressures of your present job. The ideal solution is to take time off from work but if you can’t do that simply refuse to let your job get you down.
During the next thirty days, your only objective is to define precisely the tasks you wish to perform over the remainder of your working life. How do you most like to spend your free time when no one tells you what to do. What role models did you have as a child? Of all the adults you know, who has the “best” job and why is that job so fulfilling? What talents and experience do you presently possess that you can apply to your career? Do you want to be your own boss or do you prefer the certainty of a regular paycheck?
Near the end of your mental vacation, write out a position description for your dream job. I don’t want to imply the task will be straight forward or easy. Should you would dream of becoming physician but haven’t been to medical school, it probably won’t work. You may need to modify your dream job to fit reality but in the end you will have a clear vision of where you want to be headed in your career. Your next step is to appoint yourself CEO of your career. Knowing precisely what you want and having a plan to get there will place you miles ahead of your competition.
I guarantee that once you define, continually visualize and genuinely believe in yourself as an incumbent in the position of your dreams you will locate and be hired for that position. Once you accept the position you love–one that pays you to have a good time–you will earn all the money you will ever need and desire; life works that way!
For a detailed road map to middle age renewal, including career, please preview my book A Mid-Life Challenge WAKE UP! You can find it on our website www.middleagerenewal.com. Also, tune in to the March 25, 2013 broadcast of “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age”; the program is all about defining then landing the job of your dreams.