Is Your World Like A Spinning Top?
This column focuses on careers, work and the jobs we perform everyday (or hope to perform as soon as you find a new one). Sometimes the lines between our professional lives and personal lives blur. Change and our reaction to it---is often the culprit.
At age 40+ we move out of the kiddie pool and begin to swim in the deep water with sharks and other unimaginable creatures. The stakes are higher and we have more to lose materially because we have worked a while and become consumers of the American Dream. Major changes as the waves push us further into deep water may include:
- The death of a parent, spouse, sibling or close friend
- Health care decisions for an aging parent
- Children maturing and making their own life choices
- Career reassessments by choice or forced upon us
- Health crisis or challenges of our own or someone close
- Unexpected midlife job search
- Financial reality that doesn’t align with your plans & expectations
- Loneliness or disconnectedness (with or without a partner)
Psychologists and other professionals will tell you that change is not an inherently bad thing. In fact, we cannot evolve without it. I agree with you, change is a lot easier when we initiate it. (And even then, leaving a good company, a relationship, a wonderful neighborhood or a dear friend is still hard). I’ve experienced all four scenarios and as tough as those situations have been, what is waiting on the other side of those changes is the next phase of your life that in a few short years---you will not want to change. You will still have the benefit of all the great memories of your experiences that came before. Jim Collins reminds us in his book, Good to Great, “good is the enemy of great," at least for companies-could it be true for individuals too?
My three personal tips for coping with change:
1. Realize change events seem to speed up as we get older. There’s always something happening, so be compassionate (especially with yourself).
2. Take care of your health-it makes dealing with other changes coming at you easier. I try to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and stay positive.
3. Realize that if I keep doing what I’ve always done—the result will not change. So, I decide what I want my life to look like and take the first (scary) step in that direction.
I just finished a great book, Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud (also available as an audio book). It is the first book I’ve read that addresses career and personal transitions together. You may want to check it out.
Oh yeah, don’t forget your life preserver while swimming in the deep water and be prepared for wild waves.