Question: Motivational speakers talk as if there’s nothing to following your passion. It’s as if they all share the same mantra and believe that if you do it, all will be perfect and everyone will become wealthy. Well, how about those of us who were raised to follow the paths we were told to follow, or did what our parents thought we should do and ended up in jobs that offered security above everything else? Many of my friends and I were fine in those regular jobs until the long-term security was threatened. Now, after 20 years in the same field of whatever kind, it’s not so easy to reinvent oneself or, even before that, to know what one’s passions are to be able to follow them. So how do we find those passions so we can get into the fields we should have been in from the beginning? Starting over after 45 is not just hard but a bit ridiculous. Don’t you think?
Novak: No. Nothing that involves trying to better oneself is silly or a waste of time at any age. Eldon Taylor, who has five doctorates, ranging from divinity to hypnotherapy to clinical psychology, and is the author of many books across those fields, says some people listen to every motivational speaker on the circuit and apply none of it to their lives. Learning about oneself should be a lifelong quest, and no one is likely (though it is possible) to discover his or her calling in life by taking one assessment test, hearing one lecture or taking one course.
Following a career path that offered you security is not wrong or something you should regret. Whatever career path you chose, it served its purpose at the time. If that security has ended, now may be your time for self-discovery. Don’t view it as a chore. It’s a privilege to be able to read about others’ ideas, journeys, educations and industries to see what excites you. Listen to everything people have to say, and then weed out the negatives and the warnings, and make your own decisions on what’s right for you. If you haven’t hit the right field or interest or hobby yet, keep exploring. Change happens overnight only in fairy tales. If you need to take a job just for money, appreciate it for what it is; it is allowing you to pay the bills while you discover what you want to do.
One book that could help you uncover what is meaningful for you is Giving Myself Permission: Putting Fear and Doubt in Their Place, by Pennie Murray, Ph.D. Murray openly discusses her journey through careers, education, successes, flaws and failures, and gives practical advice on how to analyze yourself, work through what’s keeping you out of touch and clear yourself from what’s holding you back.
People are products of their upbringing — good, bad and indifferent. Finding first jobs or getting into careers can be like the spin of a roulette wheel. But the more you learn about your interests and abilities the less of a gamble it will be finding the best field for you. When you find it, ignore the odds and the naysayers and go for it.