Take this advice now, you’ll regret it later.

advice cards

It’s a midlife crisis!’

We hear this when people leave established careers or sell successful businesses to do something else. Whether it’s for a new career, to study or take time out.

They are wrong. It’s not a crisis. It’s one of the most creative and productive periods of life.

Despite the name, this transition period happens anytime between mid-thirties and mid-fifties.

They say it always seems to come out of the blue. They say people behave ‘out of character’. Forget all that.

It doesn’t just hit you one day. It is a gradual process. It builds up over time.
Many people know years before that something is not quite right. But usually, an event triggers a tipping point to do something about it. Then it seems to happen quickly. You see yourself in a new light. Consider different options. Re-imagine your future.

So flip it on its head.

See your ‘crisis’ as a reinvention, rejuvenation and re-alignment.

A period in your life that releases your creativity. Offers new ways to look at your skills and experience. Challenges you to find something you value.

It’s the time you are:

  • more optimistic as each year passes.
  • free of the ‘shoulds’ of your past.
  • ready to explore new roles and leave old ones behind.

It’s the time dentists become archaeologists and archaeologists become entrepreneurs.

That’s why after the twenty-five year old’s, it has the highest percentage of start-ups and college enrolments.

It doesn’t mean it will be easy. You might make some tough, ‘weird’ or crazy decisions. But they will free you.

Those that see it as a ”crisis” will warn you and offer advice.

  • They’ll say it’s a lonely and frightening experience. A time when rational people do irrational things.
  • They’ll say it’s a time when dreams are not tempered by reality. Decisions are made without thinking. Or not made at all from confusion and self-doubt.
  • They’ll say it’s a time you will feel lost, alone and out of step with the world. Family and friends won’t understand or support you.
  • They’ll say it’s part of dealing with your mortality and your regrets.
  • They’ll say it’s a phase you should just accept.
  • They’ll say it’s a condition that needs counselling or even drugs.

Face it, change is scary. No matter how exciting, it’s unpredictable and threatens the comfort of the status quo. So it’s human nature to resist it and protect others from it.

You need to know the difference between bad and good advice.

You might hear: ‘’You’re doing it again!? … Why bother? … It’s a dog eat dog world …. You’ll never repeat your past success … It’s fine for them; they have the networks/money/experience … Take it easy now; you’ve earned it…Most people wouldn’t do it … It’s risky and unpredictable … ‘’

Feel good? Of course not. You’re hit by the ‘Seven Cs’. The armour people use to protect themselves (and you), from change.

Can you recognise those Cs?

  • Cynicism – believing self-interest motivates
  • Criticism – focusing on the negative
  • Clichés – superficial phrases and opinions
  • Comparisons – evaluating how you are doing against others
  • Comfort – taking the path of least resistance, change or challenge
  • Conformity – following the masses
  • Control – fear of the unmanageable

Other people’s fears have nothing to do with you.

Well intentioned advice can undermine you, sap your energy and feed your doubts.

It isn’t worth listening to.

This advice comes from all quarters – family, friends and strangers. It’s one reason why only three per cent of people who want to write and publish a book do it. It’s why over fifty percent of people over forty stay in careers they regret. It’s also why you can feel alone.

The problem with advice is that there is always an agenda which may not be clear. They may fear, resent or disapprove what you’re trying to achieve. Or they may be unrealistically supportive and uncritical. Different motivations but the same outcome – bad advice.

If you don’t know the agenda or it doesn’t fit, look for other sources of advice.

Good advice is rare, bad advice is everywhere.

There are ways to find the good stuff:

  • Take the business of getting good advice seriously.
    Write down the areas where you need help.
  • Do your homework.
    Research what you need to know. Find out some facts and set questions to test the quality of the advice.
  • Select a few sources.
    Make time for meetings and discussions.
  • Break it down into manageable actions.
    Advice is just philosophy until you do something. So if you can’t turn it into practical steps, let it go. It won’t help you.

In restaurants, people ask the waiter ‘What’s good to eat?’ Well everything is good to eat – otherwise, it wouldn’t be on the menu! Watch how good waiters ask lots of questions before they give advice. ‘Do you like fish, do you have allergies, do you want to share…?

Good advice comes from good questions. That’s the path we should all take. Think about it when you give advice and when you get it.

This period of transition can be liberating and frightening.

Good advice helps you keep your head in this time of transition. It stops you leaping without thinking, or become frozen through fear and doubt.

It helps you do a reality check. Analyse the consequences of your action or inaction. (There is a price to pay for both.)

Then you are ready to make the most of your “crisis’’.

 


Further Reading

  1.  Sharot, T. (2012). The Science of Optimism. US, Amazon Digital.
  2. Goldberg, J.T., (2011) ‘200 Million Americans Want to Publish Books, But Can They?’ Publishing Perspectives. 26 May.
  3. Reuters (2013). ‘Poll Finds 80 Percent of Workers in the 20’s Want to Change Careers’, The Huffington Post Business. 31 August.

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