“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Change comes to us from every direction and we either get swallowed up by it or utilize it for our own advantage. That is easier said than done. It depends on the type of change. True. Expected or unexpected, as it may be, massive or simple as its impact may be - what tops the possible aspects of change is what we bring to it.
The four stages that make up our time of transition
There are four dimensions that we may look towards when measuring our readiness to pass through the stages of any new experience, in which we feel we have suffered some loss or deprivation.
Transition is not a self-explanatory term and it is not easy to determine what type of transition we are passing through. What is very unsettling in our life cycles, and baffling as well, when changes occur is: what worked before no longer works. Our approaches, personal convictions, lifestyle, skill areas and targets for attainment become suddenly cloudy, and irrelevant to our immediate future. This experience may occur a number of times in a lifetime. However, when options appear to be dwindling, as in the case of mid-life or later in life, transition becomes more difficult.
The 40 plus or later stage of life (itself compounded by physical and related changes) then leaves a few specific things to be clarified to ourselves. The problem though is - do we really want to have this clarification? What awesome truths will be revealed? This is where I have used my Creative Potential Script as a model for dealing with career change.
For meaningful transition to take place, one specific thing needs to happen first and foremost: we should decide what should be released! Only after dealing with that ‘giving up’ of what has ended, can we actively open up to ‘start on our new path’. In particular, for career-change, skill demands and levels of performance may differ drastically from one field or one location or employer to another. Ultimately, transition is an inward process involving personal development which has to take place before the outward desired result can appear.
Strengths: Let us look at the 4 areas that should be questioned seriously in order to positively move forward. One of them is contained in the following questions: what are my true strengths? What have I demonstrably excelled at? From what accomplishment have I derived the greatest satisfaction? What abilities do I have that I know I can further develop? Even in the face of loss, the answers will be enlightening as we measure our strengths.
Goals: Goals should be questioned too. Goals need to be revised to match what is now relevant, purposeful and attainable. Goals should be realistic and highly motivational, leading to the desirable and deserving satisfaction which you are seeking.
What will it cost? Here is the third aspect. The question of what it will cost needs also to be addressed. The cost of launching in the new direction means putting down old habits/outlook/focus. The intention is not to back away from the cost but to identify and understand what the new life entails. This is part of the self-searching that happens as we face transitions. Sometimes we face this boldly. Other times, sheepishly, and other times we drag out the time of denial.
Mindset and potential: Finally, but certainly not the end of the whole puzzle, the individual needs to examine her new mindset, as she struggles to keep old notions and choices from interfering with her new direction. The new mindset has to be tenaciously held in order to sustain the newly found potential (for happiness, for prosperity, for career success, for new learning or advancing) for newness of life.
The to-do list of a mid-career individual
Generally at mid-career the individual has to take charge, since mid-career transition will be experienced whether you choose it or not. The determination of what is working and what is not can only arise from the individual’s own experience. A 35-year-old may be at mid-career having started out in the field of work very early, while a stay-at-home parent or late graduate could be at mid-career later, having started out at 30 plus. The span of one’s careers will also differ, depending on how many careers you have engaged in.
In fact, mid-career really refers to the point at which you begin to assess where you are heading, or feel the need to assess where you are and where you have been. You are either questioning how to move on, or to change focus or to advance. This is a tricky matter, subject to a variety of changing emotions, but it can also be an exciting time, as very many have discovered.
As retirement age approaches you should be acquainted with your own personality. If you are not, there is work to be done. Whatever you choose to do, here-on out, has to match your personality, if you are to be reasonably happy or content. You should be able to identify what drives you. You should know what areas of your life remain unfulfilled. Of course, you should also know what you value the most. These elements will determine how to handle the changes in the ‘second half of life’. In both the mid-life and pre-retirement stages we know that you have reached a point, which may be a peak, a dip or a rut.
At this particular point, you should determine which situation you are in and how you feel about it. The strongest recommendation after that is to seek objective feedback if you are in doubt or feeling anxious after carrying out that self-evaluation. Change can be met head-on in an intelligent, anticipatory fashion, or faced in a timely manner through drawing on inner wisdom and spiritual guidance. Let’s explore and expand.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!