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How Do You Feel About Yourself?

By Craig Nathanson

How do you feel about yourself? After forty, this is what counts the most!

Faith Smith did all the right things all the things society expected. She attended law school, was involved in television and news production and was a top producing real estate agent. Suddenly one day a new perspective emerged about her life and what she really wanted. Today, Faith is the founder of Eyes Cream Shades, quality sun wear for children.

Dolores Arste was good at managing people and teams in the information technology field. Suddenly a new perspective emerged for her life and she took action. Today, she provides holistic coaching helping others deal with their own life changes.

Marcia Brixey worked for the government for 26 years. She had a responsible job and a career. Marcia had a great office but she was miserable and unhappy inside. She also took the leap. Today, Marcia is the founder of Money Wi$e Women helping women to better manage their money.

It starts with a deep look inside
How do you feel about yourself? Does your work enhance your sense of self or does it bring you down? Have you thought about how your work might be impacting your health, your relationships and your happiness? So many people just place their work in a large compartment, as if to keep the rest of their life away from their work I wish it were that simple.

Your work determines who you are
I went out to eat the other day and I noticed a group of maybe 15 people from the same work group out to lunch. It was your typical work lunch where the boss did most of the talking and the people tried hard to act like they were enjoying themselves. Really, they just wanted to rush home, put on their pajamas and crawl under their covers. Have you ever felt that way?

Stop looking for another job
Instead, create a life that honors who you are and your gifts to the world. Write down on a piece of paper, The way I feel about myself is ______________. Change the parts of your life that are no longer useful to you.

So many of us are held prisoner by others; our bosses, our parents, our spouses and society about who we should be and the role we should play out in life. Just remember, you are the only one who can change the role in your own one act play called life. It doesn't come from thinking you should change or hoping for some better luck. It comes from creating the life that works just right for you.

Your work is a center point of your life
Last week I met an executive whose company sold electronic parts. I asked him if he loved his work and all his travel. He said he actually didn't like it at all. His plan someday was to spend his time in the mountains doing something around his love of skiing. I knew what the real problem was. He lived a life of big screen TVs, large trophy cars and lots of toys. He couldn't actually imagine giving any of these up in trade for his dreams.

Don't prostitute yourself to your work
I am sorry but it's the best example that comes to mind. So many of us do this. We rent our lives and our souls to faceless work that we do without question. And the result is that we feel worse about ourselves and who we are. The path to a life of integrity is an open and honest review of who you are and what you want.

Are you a job title or a person?
When someone asks you what you do, how do you answer? Do you respond with your job title or a description of who you are? There are so many jobs out there and most of them would not be done unless people were paid to do them. After forty, it's time to take a deeper look at doing work that warms the soul; work that solves real problems in the world.

Is your work making a difference in the world?
Only you can answer this question. Most jobs are created only to help an organization turn a profit. If you can't contribute to this mission, then the organization will find someone else, probably younger, who can. After forty, you are ready to stop these silly games with your life and find your vocation the work you will start to do and continue doing until you stop breathing.

On the day of my 50th birthday
I write this article on the day of my 50th birthday and frankly, I couldn't think of a better way to start my day. I plan to continue this work for the next 50 years because in some small way, I feel it makes a difference in the world. And along the way it also helps me feel better about myself. Consider making these your goals, too.

How do you feel about yourself?
Only you can answer this question. Only you can start to take action towards doing something about the answers you don't like. Start by examining your work. This will be the hardest thing you will ever do. But it will also be the most satisfying when you look back over the second half of your life and realize you ignored the status quo and followed your heart.

Craig Nathanson is the author of 'P Is For Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day' and a coaching expert who works with people over forty. His second book, 'Don't Just Retire and Die,' is due out at the end of 2006. Craig's systematic approach, the trademark 'Ten P' model, helps people break free and move toward the work they love. Visit Craig's online community at The Vocational Coach.com where you can sign up for a class, private coaching or group coaching. Or you can read other stories of mid-life change and renewal.

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