Five Steps to Vocational Passion: A Disciplined Plan for Major Mid-life Changes
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--Title: Five Steps to Vocational Passion:
A Disciplined Plan for Major Mid-life Changes
--Author's First and Last name: Craig Nathanson
--Author's Website: http://www.thevocationalcoach.com
--Author's E-mail address: craig @ thevocationalcoach.com
- Author's Phone 925-855-0755 Fax 925-855-0750
--Number of words: 941
Five Steps to Vocational Passion:
A Disciplined Plan for Major Mid-life Changes
by Craig Nathanson
There's a famous song lyric that asks: "Is that all there
is?" Every seven seconds, an American turns 50 years old. So
there's a good chance that song is running through some of
The question captures the ennui that many people feel in
mid-life. They look up at the clock, see it ticking, and
begin counting in their heads all the mountains not climbed,
the poems not written, and the songs not sung.
It's time to stop asking the question idly. I'm offering
five initial steps that you can take to evaluate your
situation and to begin the transition away from a
meaningless grind toward a new life that provides you with
energy and fulfillment.
Vocational passion is an alignment of your abilities and
interests in a role that gives you unlimited energy and
happiness. This is not an overnight process. But it's a
process you can begin today.
Step One: Evaluate
Lots of people settle for jobs that pay the bills but leave
them feeling empty. If you want to break out of this trap
and find another kind of life, you need to evaluate where
you'd like to go.
Examine where your passions lie. On a scale of 1-10, where
are you when it comes to vocational passion? A "1" is a
living drudgery where you force yourself to your desk every
morning and dream about the end of the day; a "10" is a
perfect alignment between interests and livelihood.
Too many of us are closer to "1" than "10". Anything lower
than a "5" suggests your working life may be feeding your
family, but at the expense of starving your soul.
Step Two: Envision Your Future
You may have seen the U.S. Navy ad that asks: "If someone
wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read
Here's your chance to write that book - or at least the
outline. Sit down and write a short biography that describes
who you are five years from now. Describe exactly the life
you wish to lead, doing work that you love. You will know
you're done with the exercise when your heart races with
Then imagine and write down your vision of a perfect
vocational day. It's difficult to achieve something that you
have not clearly envisioned. Make sure your vision has
clarity. Then document it and pull it out regularly, to
refresh your desire to achieve that vision.
Step Three: Tune Out Negative Feedback
Understand this: The moment you announce plans to make a
radical change in your life, many people will find the move
threatening and they will not wish you well. They will try
to talk you out of it and tell you what a big mistake you're
about to make.
Never let the naysayers dictate your life. People who listen
to negative voices end up with the status quo.
Step Four: Shore Up Your Support Network
Anyone making a change needs supportive friends, and lots of
I suggest a three-tiered model for analyzing your personal
support network. The three tiers will include people who are
1) "interested" in your work; 2) "supporters" who are not
only interested, but offer creative ideas to move you
forward; 3) "believers," which includes your most active
Make your lists now. Examine whom you have in your support
network and rank them according to these tiers. Focus on
networking with your tier-one supporters, while trying to
move those people in tiers two and three up the ladder.
Step Five: Assess Your Risk
When taking action to follow one's passion, people trying to
change their life fall into one of four categories. Each
requires a different strategy.
Category One: Plenty of money and plenty of time. People in
this category have a high tolerance for risk based on their
relatively young age and solid financial means.
Category Two: Plenty of money and little time. Because of
failing health and/or advancing age, those in category two
have some risk tolerance. But they probably lack a solid
support network, since most friends will advise against
change because they are "too old" or "too sick."
Category Three: Little time and little money. I define
"little money" as having less than six months of cash flow
in the bank. Risk tolerance is low in this category, and
supporters are probably hard to come by. Most people are in
Category Four: No money and no time. I define "no money" as
less then three months cash flow in the bank. Anyone is this
position will have a very low risk tolerance. They will find
little support to help them move toward doing what they
What to do?
Take the calculated risks now.
Make solid but flexible plans
Get aligned around your abilities and interests
Get more education if necessary
Talk to people who do what you want to do!
What's the worst that can happen?
Remember this: You won't die or become homeless if you
pursue what you love. You may, however, find that your
relationship to your money will change. You'll respect money
more, and you'll find that you can manage on less of it.
Also understand that pursuing vocational passion doesn't
always mean making less money. But it does mean that money
is not the only consideration - or even the most important
consideration - in choosing your new vocational path.
If you don't act to pursue your vocational passion, then
every seven seconds someone else will come along and ask
themselves: "Is that all there is?" Many of them will
answer, "No," and will do something about it. You can be one
of the doers.
Craig Nathanson, The Vocational Coach, is the author of "P
Is For Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day," by Book Coach
Press. He publishes the free monthly e-zine, "Vocational
Passion in Mid-life." Craig believes the world works a
little better when we do the work we love. He helps those in
mid-life carry this out. Visit his online community at
http://www.thevocationalcoach.com where you can sign up for
his next Tele-class coming up November 17.
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