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Re-Evaluating Your Career at Mid-Life Can Be a Blast
Written By: Mark Smith



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My apologies to my younger or older readers - I do have a tendency to get stuck on this whole mid-life transition thing. I guess that is because I'm knee deep in that transition myself. I suspect that there just might be a few folks out there from ages 35 to 55 who might relate, so here goes:

Back in the day career choices were easier for both men and women. Men sold their souls to the company store for 40 plus years then took their gold watches and their fat pensions to the golf course or the fishing hole. Women stayed at home then shared their husband's fat pension. Almost nobody does 40 plus years with the same company. The folks I know who are hanging on for decades with the same company are miserably trapped by golden handcuffs and the promise of that elusive pension.

The rest of us are free to improvise. People who are growing should evolve and change and that certainly includes their careers. If you aren't happy in your career don't you dare settle for 20 more years of misery. What would you rather be doing? What are your dreams? Why can't you do it? How can you make that happen?

Let me share about the experiences of an anonymous mid-life marital therapist - we'll call him say, Mark - ok I won't hide it, it's me. I have a great practice. I turn away fascinating motivated perspective clients who would gladly pay me $135.00 per 50 minute hour. I have 7 great therapists who work for me. I get to play basketball 3 days at week in the afternoon. My hoops buddies are convinced that I don't even have a job. I only work 2 evenings a week and I've got plenty of time to ride my Harley. It's a great gig - my kids say all that I do is sit around, drink coffee and chat - how easy can that be? But I feel this intense calling to do something else. It just doesn't fit like it used to. I feel compelled to write.

Are you happy doing what you do? I know that no job is perfect. What do you love about your job? Is it you? In your wildest dreams what would you want to do? What is the first step for you toward that wild dream? Take it. Then take the next step. It could be a real blast.

After I saw my very first private practice clients in September of 1989 I actually danced a little gig in my tiny waiting room while a clutched my first precious $50.00 check. It was thrilling to take a risk and do what I knew that I should be doing. Now writing does that for me. I have to tell you this story or I'm going to bust. I felt like I needed an office to go to in order to officially start my writing career. I wanted a small office as close to where I take writing classes in Broadripple - The Writing Center. For days I scoured Broadripple to no avail. I wanted to be close to nature and the White River, I wanted a creative haven and I didn't want to pay a pittance. The first guy I called wanted $1450.00 for a 100 square foot room! I pressed on in faith. On Friday I just felt compelled to go back to Broadripple and look around. I actually skipped basketball to do it, so you know I was seriously motivated. With about a half and hour left before I had to go I felt compelled to drop by The Writing Center. It felt like I was being led there but it didn't make sense. When I got there I walked past an adorable (do real men use that word) little office one door away from my new favorite place in the world and guess what - it was for rent (and for peanuts)! I scooped it up immediately and now I'm making plans to paint it various cool shades of maroon.

I literally feel like I just won the lottery or signed a multi-million dollar deal to play football for the Cowboys. I don't think I've ever been more thrilled in my life. When I told my somewhat smart mouthed brood of teenagers about it they said "let's get this right, you're taking 2 full days a week off to write (for free basically at this point) while turning down over a thousand bucks a day in therapy work?" I said, "yep". They asked if they were still going to college. I said "absolutely, I know that I can do this". I know that money will eventually come if I put my full heart into the endeavor. And I gave them that same advice for their future career moves. Do what you love! Be who you are! Don't let anyone tell you can't do it. Get the training you need and give it some time. Doors will open for you. Ok, you might need to knock really hard for a long time, but hey, you only get to live once in this world - go for it. My son said that he would gladly take back his skeptical words only if I were to happen to write the great American novel and get paid a million bucks. Did I mention he was a smart mouth?

So, on May the 2nd I'll open a door to my little room with a view that will say "Relationship Jazz" on it and I'll joyfully begin my second career. I wish for all of you the joy of finding your room with a view - your calling, you special door of opportunity and adventure. See you next week.




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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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