I don’t know what it is about me but for some reason, I find myself reinventing my career every 10 years. I did it first in my late 30’s when I had climbed the corporate ladder at a major television network and then decided after becoming a vice president that it was time to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship. After spending nearly 17 years of my life working stable jobs, I decided to plunge headfirst off the diving board and try something brand new.
During that first period of my reinvention I co-wrote two books, I hosted dozens of events, I attended film premieres and screenings, embarked on a cross country book tour and even sold 2000 Swiffers on QVC. During that time, I also got the chance to be home with my kids. Sure I traveled a lot but I was there for the performances, the games, the graduations and the heartache. And now, as I’m approaching my 50th birthday, I’m on the precipice of experiencing Empty Nest syndrome while at the same time contemplating what’s my next move?
As I think about what I want to do with my life now, things have become crystal clear. I want to go back to doing the things that fuel my soul whether it’s hosting a conference, a panel event or even retreats. I want to travel more and stress less. Of course, I have tuition bills that will be mounting as I launch this next chapter but the key to finding true fulfillment in your career is to let go of the things that have been dragging you down.
If you’re approaching a special birthday like me – whether you’re 30, 40, 50 or beyond, it’s never too late to reinvent. Here are five ways to get motivated.
- Create a vision board or a strategic plan: Whenever I come up with an idea for a new business or project, it helps to develop a google spreadsheet that lays out all your ideas. From how you’re going to monetize your vision, to cool marketing ideas, to contacts you might be able to align with. If you’re more of a visual person, create a vision board that shares your personal and professional goals you’d like to accomplish over the next year.
- Stop putting things off: Recently, I spearheaded an Artisan Market in my neighborhood and convinced a friend who is a talented crochet artist (she’s a lawyer by day) to host a table since the items she posted online were so incredible. After worrying that she might not have enough inventory, she bit the bullet and decided to participate. And I have to say, she probably had the best sales of all the vendors there. She’s even busy working on new custom orders from people who visited the market and asked her to design some items for the holidays. Even though it’s her side hustle, her crochet business is taking off.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks: One of my favorite stories I love to share is about a former PR client of mine who quit her boring day job to pursue her passion for stationery design. While she first started selling her designs from a small cart in Boston, she remembers the time she walked through Bryant Park during their annual holiday fair and was determined to land a booth there. After she applied and was accepted, she had to find the money to lease the space and while it was quite difficult making ends meet, with the support of her family and her retirement account, she paid for the booth and rolled the dice. Within a week of opening she made her money back and then some. It’s a big risk to throw yourself into something that could put you into debt, but sometimes when the stars align, you should take a chance and go for it.
- If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying or change course: Nothing says your reinvention has to happen only once in your lifetime. We change our interests and goals every decade so what you wanted in your 30’s may be different in your 40s and 50s and that’s okay. A fulfilling life is one where you try new things, make mistakes, make course corrections and move on.
- Stop talking about it and just do it! I can’t tell you how many times I have talked about doing something yet I get sidetracked by a new project that helps pay the bills. While it’s always important to have a source of income, it’s just as important to have passion projects that fuel your soul. Some of the happiest people I know have successful careers and volunteer in their spare time too. At some point in your life, making a difference might become just as important as making money. For me, I like a healthy combination of both and if I can find a way for my work to make a difference in the lives of others, then even better.
Whatever decade you’re in, the key to living a great life is knowing when to stop doing the things that stress you out. As I prepare for my milestone birthday, I’m ready to embark on a journey that will ultimately lead to personal and professional fulfillment.