Do you dare to build your own playground?
Seven steps to turning your mid-to-late career plans into reality
Just because you’ve spent the first part of your career in one type of work, one industry, one kind of role, that doesn’t mean that you have to stay there forever. It’s common for people in their 40s, 50s and older to feel like they’re stuck, and that they have to settle for the decisions they made earlier in life when they had less experience and different choices.
That’s not the case, though. I work with people like this all the time, joining them on their path to discover their purpose and enabling them to create a new playground for their later career, finding fulfilment and satisfaction in their work.
I’m going to ask seven questions you can think about in order to move forwards, but remember, change happens by taking just one step at a time.
Question 1: “What if?”
Play with those thoughts a little. What would be different for you if those dreams came true? And what would be different for other people? Would you be creating change for a particular cause, a community, for your company? Consider the positive impact you could make by realising those ideas you so often dismiss as impossible.
Question 3: “What is it that’s stopping me?”
“Oh no no no no no”. Reality sets in. Your thoughts cloud over, blocking out your dreams, and everything becomes a bit scary. Most of the people I work with find themselves overwhelmed, either by practicalities, or by a lack of focus and direction. But they’re not alone. Both of those reactions are perfectly normal.
Sure, there are practicalities you need to think of. You might have a mortgage, a spouse, children who rely on you. You probably also have self-doubts – we all do, one way or another. These are all natural responses from reasonable people, so it’s OK to panic for a few minutes.
But then look at the reality. If you can face these fears and understand what it is that’s really scaring you, you can address them. Can you separate the reality of the situation, the real challenges you’d need to overcome, from the (perfectly legitimate) fears of a normal, responsible person?
Equally unsettling, you might find you have so many ideas that you don’t know where to start. Or you might know that you want a change, but feel like you don’t have any firm ideas. To address these feelings, you can focus on what really makes you happy in life. Do these things align to a particular cause? Are you happiest doing a mix of different things, rather than picking just one? To move forward you might look at changing your situation, and also transforming yourself, your skills and your knowledge. And the result? You’ll feel ALIVE!
Question 4: “What’s missing at the moment?”
Hopefully at this point you’re excited, but I’m pretty sure you’ll still have concerns. That’s normal, but it doesn’t mean you should abandon your plans. Instead, look at what’s missing at the moment, which you’d need to address in order to make your plans possible. It might be that you need to learn something new, acquire new expertise or skills, or you might need to grow into new networks of people who can help you with your ideas. Pinning down some realistic actions that will move you towards your goal will help you to see that this is possible!
Question 5: “Can I tell you about my inspiration?”
Start to talk about your inspiration and share it with other people. Let people know what you think is possible, communicate what you’ve got planned, allow yourself to be inspired, and let yourself enthuse other people, too. Getting other people excited about your plans helps those plans to grow.
Question 6: “Would you like to get involved?”
This is a question you ask other people. By this point you know where you need to focus to make things possible, you have people to help you and your ideas are already starting to come to life. So it’s time to START.
Step out of your comfort zone and wholeheartedly into your new playground. Make requests of people who are inspired by your projects and see how they can help them move forwards. Allowing others to contribute to your plans will help them become a reality and increase your impact where it matters.
Question 7: “What have I learned and how does that shape what lies ahead?”
Celebrate! And by this, I mean celebrate your successes, but also your failures. Failures mean you tried, and give you just as much to learn from as your successes. They’re just as important to helping you grow, so they deserve just as much celebration.
It’s a journey but it starts with that first little step
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed or discouraged. I’d love to join you as you dare to build your own playground, for the whole journey or just for a particular step, if you get stuck. Get in touch!
Call me “G”
With many years’ experience in international business leadership, Geneviève “G” Bauhofer is ideally placed to help get the best out of individuals or groups in a business, corporate or charitable setting. Now based in Switzerland (G is fluent in French, German and English), she is relishing her decision to focus on using the skills she’s honed throughout her career to inspire, empower and enable people.