To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat, “If you don’t know where you are going any path will do.” Or this quote from Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”
That’s how many of us women got to our current career. At midlife, that’s no longer enough. It’s time we find the path to our true career.
How do you start down your own path? It’s best to turn toward something positive – your vision, as opposed to turning away from something. You’ll have more of a reason to stay focused and ignore distractions. But it’s harder to know what you want than what you don’t want.
Once you know where you are headed, don’t just choose an end point and then plan the fastest way to get there. Instead, with the end in mind, choose a starting point. Your path might zig-zag a bit in the beginning. Recognize and act on warning signs if you move away from your values and priorities. Create milestones or markers along the way as check points to correct or adjust your route.
Leave room for opportunities that might come up that you could not have planned for when you started. That will allow you to continue developing yourself. But in time as you’re further along, your true path will emerge and deepening your commitment to just one path will be more rewarding than keeping all options open and just floating on the surface.
Your chosen path will need to include both short term and long term plans. To make it manageable, break your long term plan into smaller bits that can be integrated into your daily short term plan. Celebrate those smaller accomplishments to stay motivated. It’ll keep the momentum going so you don’t abandon or get discouraged.
Even if your short term plan is focused on being sure you can pay your bills while in transition, life will be more tolerable since you will still be on the path and making progress toward that longer goal. It brings your future into the present little by little.
Set aside time to understand your values, interest and passions. Then explore how they can become your authentic career – one that’s just right for you. Many times working with a coach is helpful to explore and plan your true career path. I’d love to help.
Diane, The Midlife Woman’s Career Coach
Diane Howell Topkis is the author of 26 Keys to Unlocking Career Change Success for Midlife Women, the first in her Career Clarity series. Diane works with midlife women to gain the clarity and confidence to reinvent or re-energize their career into meaningful work for their next chapter. Please visit www.YourNextChapterNOW.com to receive your free workbook Is It Time to Reinvent My Career?