Recently at an event for START NOW I asked the audience – what would you do, if you could be whatever you wanted? For many, it was something very different to what they are doing today.
As we’ve gotten older, it’s a question I think we have stopped asking ourselves. We’ve accepted what we are doing with our career is right for us, and we daren’t imagine we could start again. But what if we’re not happy? What if imagining doing this for another 20 years fills us with dread?
When we were young, we were continuously re-assessing what we were doing – changing course like a tactician in a sail-boat in a race to win. But as we’ve grown up, for many of us, we’ve become comfortable. We’ve accepted the boat we are sailing is right for us and the race we are in is safe, as we know the rules. We’ve stopped challenging ourselves. We’ve stopped imaging we could have another ‘move’ left our board of life.
Why? When I ask people this question I tend to hear about three common blockers;
1. Risk; Changing careers in your 40s or 50s obviously comes with increased risk. Why would you give up the safe salary, for an uncharted unknown course, when so much depends on that salary? How do you know it will work? And what happens to your reputation if it doesn’t?
Getting comfortable with risk requires an approach that reduces it fast. By testing your new direction before you set-off – creating an experiment to test your assumptions – you can radically reduce your risk.
2. Skills; We are a generation who is rapidly being made obsolete. Whether its by the ‘millennials’ with new digital and business skills, robots, or the new breed of organisation gravitating to the ‘contingent knowledge worker’, we worry our skills are not transferable. We cling onto what we have hoping it will ride us out to retirement.
But what if we could re-purpose our skills – and pivot into a new entity? Who says the experience you have built up over 25 years is obsolete? It may just be you can’t see any longer what it is that makes you great. By focussing on gaining insights into your talent, and defining a point of view on what you could do that would be game-changing, you will find the confidence to change.
3. Sharing; Lets face it, admitting you don’t love what you do is hard. So many people are afraid to ‘go public’ with the idea that they may not be doing what they want, or what they need to be happy. Sharing requires courage, but it can also be your greatest ally.
By selecting a small group of people to collaborate with, you can – share your desire for a new purpose, ask them to help you create your vision and support you through the change cycle. Working on a life changing project together, means you are more likely to succeed.
It’s never too late to make a new start. Begin now.