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Over 40? Make your Passions Work for You!

By Craig Nathanson

Why is this important? Making your passions work for you is important because your happiness matters and makes a difference in your life. Waking up to a day you really look forward to can make all the difference in your world.

It can be even better: Imagine waking up day after day to the work you love to do. After we turn forty, things change. If we admit it to ourselves, deep inside we wish we could do more with our lives. Our concerns usually center around our work. At this stage of life, we tend to give up our dreams and settle on doing just a job and hope one day to finally do what we love when we retire. But will that day ever come?

Where do you stand? Do you know what you are passionate about? Are you working at what you are passionate about?

If you didn't answer "yes" to both questions, you have more to do. Many people over forty just assume it's too late. They feel society's pressure to slow down, conserve and save.

Are you saving too much?
Recent research by a small group research institution suggests that Americans are currently saving too much. The report suggests that we should get more out of our money while we are young. Otherwise, we risk losing opportunities to enjoy what we have vs. saving for when we're older. Of course this advice would be frowned on by almost every financial firm - they have great ideas for using your money! Most of these firms suggest the average person will need an annual income equal to 75 to 86% of what he or she earned in their final year of employment!

When you do what you love and have a lighter backpack, you never need to retire! What these firms don't understand is that with a lighter backpack, we can, in fact, work forever doing what we love and come pretty close to the income we require. With vocation, there is no final year of employment until one stops breathing!

What happens if you wait too long? Your quality of life decreases. Life feels mundane, and your goals no longer seem interesting. Your loved ones suddenly become your scapegoats. You start to feel sluggish and you end up spending too many hours on the couch watching mindless television.

Meet Joe Kasper of New York City
I recently interviewed Joe on my regular show, "How to make meaning and money in mid-life." Joe calls himself "America's diet coach." Joe describes health as his passion, and it shows! Joe walks his talk and it's catching. It is hard to listen to Joe and not feel anxious and wanting to do something with your own life. Joe explains that he was fired from 14 traditional jobs until he finally figured out that he was better working for himself than for other people. Joe's excitement was so contagious that he could probably have had me believing in the Pet Rock again! This is what happens when you surround yourself with people who have made their passions WORK.

Meet Jennifer Wright of New Zealand
At age 47, Jennifer moved halfway around the world to make her passion WORK. On another recent show, Jennifer told me that her move, while very risky, proved to be the most magical thing she ever did. It was just the perfect recipe for her, and today she works with mid-life women to help them find meaning in their own lives. How appropriate!

As I interviewed Jennifer, it reminded me that when a person makes their passion WORK, they gain a new perspective of their lives and what is possible. Jennifer like Joe, had that extra kick in her voice, that little giggle when describing what she does. Yes, making your passion WORK can make you a bit giddy.

The first steps
Evaluate what you want. This is always the easiest and yet the most difficult. This takes an honest self assessment. Find out who else shares your passion and actually makes an income doing what you love. You'll be surprised what you discover.

For example, let's say you love building model airplanes but you need to make $75,000 a year. Not enough people to sell airplanes to? No problem. You could start your own store and call it, "Model Planes for You." You could work for a model plan manufacturer as a sales rep to get started. You could start an internet site as a place for model plane hobbyists to gather, getting revenue from ads and other means. You could start a business organizing model airplane parties for kids. You could offer team building events to corporate America that involve building paper airplanes. Attendees would see which group's paper airplane flies the farthest. Corporate America loves to spend money on this kind of event!

[I can remember once going to a team building event where we worked on building trust by being forced to fall off a ten-foot ledge with a blindfold on so that our teammates could catch us as we fell. When my team mates failed to catch me, I realized it was time to go, but that's another story!]

Prepare to downscale
You might have several income-producing activities along with perhaps working a couple of days a week at a local hobby store to make ends meet in the short term. Sorry to disappoint you but I have seldom seen a person make their passion WORK without some initial downscaling. This doesn't mean forever, just initially.

This might scare many baby boomers to run in the other direction fast. After all, what would we do without our SUV's (and their lease payments), our large mortgages and our retirement nest eggs? Well, I guarantee we would be freer and lighter and better able to explore new possibilities for making our passions WORK.

There is a difference
There is a difference between working hard so that one day you can live your passions vs. making your passion WORK for you right now. Taking the next steps are, as always, up to you. I'll be cheering you on each step of the way!

Craig Nathanson is a coaching expert who works with people over forty. Craig's book, 'Don't Just Retire and Die,' is designed to help people break free and move toward the work they love. Visit Craig's website at Dr Craig Nathanson where you can take a class, get more ideas through Craig books and CDs, get some private coaching over the phone or read stories of mid-life change and renewal. Craig lives in San Anselmo, California.
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