Steps to Vocational Passion: A Disciplined Plan for Major Mid-life Changes by Craig Nathanson
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 their heads.
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
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
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.
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.
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 it?”
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 excitement.
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
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.
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 them.
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 supporters.
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.
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.
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.”
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 this 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 love.
What to do?
the calculated risks now
solid but flexible plans
around your abilities and interests
education if necessary
to people who do what you want to do!
What's the worst that can happen?
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.
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.
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
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