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How to Find Your Calling After Forty

By Craig Nathanson

"What is my calling?" That's the first question I usually get. The second question is, "How do I find it?" I say, "Well, first you have to go looking for it!" Most of us are afraid to take that little peak inside to see what we really want. After forty, it's time to listen to one's heart, not one's mom or boss or spouse or what we think the rest of the world wants.

Evaluate and envision your journey
Evaluate where you have been in your life and ask yourself, "Is this enough?" Do you get out of bed in the morning and decide you would rather pull the covers back over your head? Do you still yearn to write that first novel, open up your first deli, or simply stop working for other people? Can you envision what it would be like if only you could now do what you love?

Fire your boss and your job
No one over forty deserves to be working in JUST a job or for JUST a boss. This is our time to work for ourselves, crafting and selling the natural gifts we have to offer the world if we could just figure out what they are!

What aisle do you drift to?
Walk into your favorite bookstore; which aisle do you gravitate towards? If you had a day to yourself, what would you do and why? Who inspires you? What movies inspire you?

Start with some research
Google search is probably the greatest single technology ever invented. Take your passion and start with a simple search. Find someone else who is doing what you want to do. Insect collecting, wine tasting, making films... it doesn't matter what it is.

Don't judge the book by its cover
At this stage of your search, don't share what you are doing with anyone just yet not even with those who love you. They will confuse your passion with their view around the practical aspects of making money. Money comes in just a moment.

Make a list of all the possibilities for your passions
Let's pretend your passion is making films. What might be possible? What films might be possible? What films do you want to make and why? What would be the best features of your films? Who would benefit from your films? Who would be the ideal niche audience for your films? Find a filmmaker who makes the kind of films you would like to make. Interview him or her and find out what small steps you might take to get started.

Time over money
If you quit your unfulfilling job today, how long could you go without making an income? Would your answer be one month, six months, one year? How could you expand your time? The more time the better. Different answers will drive different strategies. If you can go a year without making an income, then you can afford to take a few more risks than the person who must make an income within three months.

Could you lengthen your time? Could you cash in your retirement fund? Scary, but why not? You won't need it if you are doing what you love! Once you start making an income, how much, exactly, do you need to make? Expect to make around 50% less money in the first four years than you made in your traditional job if you go into business for yourself. Expect to make about 25% less if you follow your passion and work for someone else.

In my research, I have noticed that after about four years, people who have pursued their passion start to make to close to what they made in their old unfulfilling jobs, sometimes even more.

Nothing is off limits
When it comes to following your passion, you'll need a lighter backpack for this part of the journey. Sounds difficult, but if this part was easy, everybody would be answering their calling!

Create multiple streams of income
Starting out, you might find yourself working Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for someone else, and Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays for yourself. The current model of work for those over forty is outdated and well past its prime. The corporate world, as an entity, can be helpful to those just starting out as they seek to build ego and self in the world. This stage is critical to one's development. After forty, however, the corporate world can ruin one's soul and sense of self.

Be a rebel with a cause
Twenty thousand people die each day from starvation. We waste billions of dollars on needless wars and even more justifying them. Follow the global warming trends, and earth itself might not be here in one hundred years. This won't affect you but it will affect your grandchildren.

So while large corporations compete for the most dollars without regard for our future, you can be different. You must be different. There are too many people working in faceless jobs for faceless bosses for faceless firms. Can't help cure starvation? Can't help reduce wars or save the planet? Start with your own happiness. It will spread like wildfire to all those you encounter.

Make an impact in your second half
Stand up! Shout it out loud! You are through with an empty life devoid of energy, passion and meaning! Stand up for what you believe in. Be the change now that you want to see in the world. It all starts with your calling... what calls you now? Take your first steps; in some small ways this earth we all share will be just a little better because of you.

I'll be cheering you on each small step of the way.

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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