By Thomas Thompson, LSLO Certified Coach
Tom Brady to Tampa Bay. The GOAT is gone from the Pats. As a Broncos fan, I am thrilled to see him out of the AFC. As a leader, his move inspires me. A 43 year old man making a career switch after 20 seasons with the same team takes courage. It’s an invigorating (and a little scary) move to start something new halfway through your life.
I know it, because I’ve done it. And others have too.
I am increasingly having coaching conversations with people wondering, “Could I do something different in the second half of my life?”
Some refer to this wondering as a Mid-Life Crisis, but it is the opposite. This question is the beginning of a Mid-Life Transition. Whether a career change happens or not, taking time to think about the move into the second half of life prevents a Mid-Life Transition from becoming a Mid-Life Crisis.
So, if you are beginning to ask that question, and considering a move, let me give you three phrases that can guide your journey.
- Doing not Do. My leadership coach used this phrase with me a few years ago. I was getting hung up on what I wanted to do. He had me add three letters–ing–to the word and changed the question to “What kinds of things would I like to be doing? What kind of people would I like to be doing it with?” That I could answer: I wanted to be doing conversations with leaders. Armed with that insight, I could begin to look at pathways that would let me do that. Action Step: Create two lists focused on doing — what kinds of things you would like to be doing and what kinds of people you’d like to be doing them with.
- What not How. It always happens. I’m coaching a client who starts to dream. I see their eyes light up as they talk about what they would love to do. And then they interrupt themselves with this statement: “But, I don’t see HOW that could work.” And just like that, they’ve cut off their future before it even got rolling. I know the how is important, and will have to be figured out. But, in this beginning process, the how is the enemy of the what. How short-circuits the dreaming. So fight it. Set the how aside. And give the What space to breathe. Action step: Write the word HOW on a sticky note. Then put it somewhere out of sight. Now you know you can come back to the the how later.
- When not If. If maroons us in the present. If keeps our future foggy. “If I were to do something different. If I was going to change careers. If I ever pursue my dream.” Try switching it out for when: “When I’m done with this job. When I am working for myself. When I am spending my days doing ____.” When anchors us in the future. When starts to make things real. And the more real it becomes, the more we get to try on this potential future. We can roll it around in our minds. You can find excitement grow. Or you may discover that you don’t like the taste of these words in your mouth. And that helps you eliminate this path and narrow towards the right one. Either way, you are moving towards the life you would love. Action Step: Start using when instead of if and pay attention to how that change feels as you say it to yourself and those closest to you.
If you can lead yourself with intentionality like this, it can be the beginning of your own Hall of Fame Transition.
Thomas helps leaders identify and navigate life and career transitions. If he can serve you in this, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.