What do you do when it’s just not fun anymore?
Are you thinking of making a change?
There comes a point in everyone’s lives — at least once — where you sit back and say, “Is this it? Am I where I want to be?” At age 60, I made a huge change in my life. Are you ready to make a change in yours?
I’ve always been a corporate gal. The first 30 years of my career I spent in the second-largest media company in the country, first as a part-time typesetter, then reporter and later as an editor and associate publisher.
Despite the ever-changing landscape in the newspaper business, after three decades, the thrill was definitely gone. It was time for a career change, to do something different. Much to the amazement of everyone who knew me, I scraped the newsprint off my shoes and headed into the new and exciting realm of business support and development.
I immersed myself in my new job as president of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce — so much so that my staff would knock on my door at 6 p.m. and ask, “Are you planning to spend the night?”
That’s who I am — throwing myself in to whatever I set my mind to do with little regard for clocks or schedules. It felt not only right, but exhilarating to jump in to this new field and use my years of management experience to help business owners and managers thrive and prosper.
The fun was gone
After five years, though, the fun was gone…or at least seriously on the wane. At that point, I’d had about 60 bosses, a continuing revolving door of well-meaning volunteer board members whose main focus was rightfully on their own business. Some were great bosses and others…well…I knew they would rotate out, given time. It was just a matter of surviving them.
And then, a few months shy of my 60th birthday, I thought, “Survive? Is that all I want to do — survive?” I recalled my mom’s successful fight against multiple cancers and my dad’s death a few years earlier on Christmas Day and came to the only conclusion possible:
Life is too short to merely survive.
I examined my options.
- Look for another job. I figured this would be a loser; who is going to hire a 60-year-old woman? Even with my credentials, Key Largo, Fla., is a small town and golden opportunities with fat salaries are not thick on the ground. Which led to the next complication:
- Just quit. How would I handle it? It wouldn’t take long on any job hunt for word to quickly circle back to my bosses that I was on the look-out. In a small town, “confidential” is just another word in the dictionary. I would have to put my cards on the table and hope for the best.
- Relocate to a bigger pond. This was at the very bottom of my “possibles” list, as I have lived in the Florida Keys for the vast majority of my adult life. I own a home here. My dearest friends are here. I love the lifestyle here. This was definitely “last resort” material.
- Develop my own business. Nearly a decade earlier, I discovered coaching — as in “Are you kidding me? You mean there is actually a profession for something I’ve been doing as a part of my regular job my entire life?” I was sold. Within five months of learning about coaching, I’d hired a coach, gotten my training and set up my business.
No time, no energy
Which then languished. Why? The same drive, focus and determination that landed me my first promotion to an editor’s slot after just two years on the job is what prevented me from spending any time developing my own business. I gave everything I had to what I was doing at the time — whether it was the newspaper business or later leading a 400-plus member business association — and I simply had no time or energy left to work on my own business.
Oh, sure, I had coaching clients. My first was a dear friend who paid me the princely sum of $5 — just so I could call myself a “professional” coach. (I still have the five-dollar bill in my files.) I helped her navigate the ugly reefs of sexual discrimination in the workplace.
Another I coached, long distance, to a successful presentation in front of 500 peers…in her native Sweden. And there were others — the medical professional who struggled with managing her staff. The Realtor who wanted support building her business. The high-energy, scattered entrepreneur who needed someone to help keep her grounded so she could focus on her chosen path (she now has five shops). The employee who’d been beaten down, lied to, so many times by his bosses that he wanted help figuring out what do to next.
To say I loved coaching is like calling the ocean a damp spot on the sidewalk. It gave me so much energy that I had to plan my sessions to end before 8 p.m. — otherwise I would be so amped I couldn’t sleep.
Only one real option
Looking at my list of options, it became clear I really only had one — develop my coaching business. Since I had intended my coaching career to be part of my retirement plan anyway (and 60 was already giving me the stink eye), this was my opportunity. All I needed to do was seize it, commit to it and move ahead.
I gave my notice at the chamber and a month later was my own boss. As part of my business, I still write and edit:
- I recently published a book, The DIY Coaching Manual for Women: How to Transform Your Life in 12 Months, available on Amazon.com. Yes. (At nearly 64 years old, so don’t tell me you’re “too old” to make a change.)
- I am a Huffington Post guest blogger
- Each month, I contribute a coaching column for our local newspapers.
- I write for, edit and design the Upper Keys Business and Professional Women‘s newsletter.
In the community
On the community level, I’ve served on the board member for the Key Largo Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department, was a tutor for Literacy Volunteers of America and United Way. I’m now a member of the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce.
I look back at how far I’ve come in the last four years and know that it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Even on those occasions when I feel liking I’m banging my head against a wall, I tell myself, “You can do this” and keep moving. I would never go back.
There just comes a time in everyone’s life when a big change is the only path to take. That was my time. Is now your time?
Want to learn more? Click here for my resume.
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