There is a great article in the Wall Street Journal about mid-lifers who take a gap year to figure out what they want to do next. The Case for Taking a ‘Gap’ Year in Midlife
I frequently work with clients who feel weighed down with years upon years worth of accumulated obligations stemming from the needs of work and family. Many reach a breaking point when the demands become to great to bear and they realize something has to give. For some, this may result in walking away from an existing career in favor of something rooted in a personal passion such as the three stories highlighted in the article.
Not everyone may be able to take a gap year or timeout. However, you can rethink how you live in the present and plan for the future. Here are three examples of how people are proactively planning for the future while deeply rooted in the present.
Downsize – Reevaluate how much home you need. I had a client who sold his big home because he knew that he wanted to change careers that might result in a lower salary. Plus he realized they didn’t need all that living space (much of it was unused) not to mention the costs associated with maintaining a large home. This decision alleviated enormous financial burdens with no impact to his family. It might not only be your mortgage but also your credit card debt that needs to be downsized.
Acquire a new skill – If you know you want to change careers or shift your area of focus, start learning those new skills today. When I was considering a career in executive coaching, I completed coursework and certification while still working full-time. Yes, it’s a lot of work but it allowed me to test the waters of a new career with the safety net of my existing job. You may also want to acquire new skills within the context of your current job especially if it will increase your engagement, marketability and have your company pay for it.
5-year plan – It’s never too early to start planning for your future. I had a client who was about 5 years away from retirement. She wanted to start laying the foundation for retirement in advance. The very act of articulating and visualizing a post retirement life enabled her to begin engaging in conversations with her spouse and networking opportunities for her next new thing without feeling pressured. It’s opened her mind to many more possibilities and eased fears about what she would do in retirement.
While the holidays can be chaotic and over-scheduled, make it a point to find a little quiet time to think about how you’d like to reset for 2014.