Those who have been reading Equilibrio for a while, may know that my pre-Equilibrio days looked a bit different to how they do now. Daughter of some seriously over-achieving professionals, I set out starting adult life knowing I needed to work hard and claim my independence. I was firmly nudged in the direction of a business degree and off I went to varsity to become a corporate-ladder-climbing-creature. I don’t regret any of these steps in my life although I always knew, deep down inside, that they were not “me”. I kept climbing the ladder, getting thrills out of the odd pat on the back, until I had my usual five-year itch and then I tweaked my job. And so it went. Every five years.
I think this five-year itch probably should have given me a clue that I wasn’t quite where I needed to be. But I put it down to a personality flaw: I got bored easily and needed new scenery. It was my last five-year itch in my late thirties which changed my life. I had decided to take a risk and go back into financial services where I had begun my career. Without going into too much detail let’s just say it was the wrong call. And after a series of really good career decisions I found myself trying to figure out what I wanted to do next much sooner than five years later.
MIDLIFE CRISIS ANYONE?
After leaving my last, miserable job, I spent more than six months trying to figure out my next move. I filled my time with renovations and “consulting”, bluffing myself that I was doing something meaningful and not just floating from day-to-day. During these days I had time to connect with other moms and wives. I quickly realised that most of them were also “floating”. We weren’t unhappy. Nor unfulfilled. We just all felt that our lives needed something extra and didn’t quite know where we were meant find it. Everywhere I turned for advice from a friend, I didn’t get any council, I just got a helpless: “me too”. We were all in the same boat!
DOWN THE TOOLS
So how did I get over this rut? I stopped. I stopped the projects, the consulting, and eventually, after a bout of illness, the incessant gym visits which helped fill my day. I felt what it was like to do nothing (other than collect my daughter from school). And after a brief time in a rather dark place, I started thinking. I had never had time to think like this before. Sure, in my previous fast-paced career I had to think all the time. But not like this, not about me. And after I started wading through the darkness and into a lighter, more creative space, I started jotting down notes, mind mapping and researching. I was thinking about what my passions were. And after a few weeks of this, detachment from a 15-year corporate career started. I was finally imagining myself doing something completely different.
YOU CAN’T BE JOAN OF ARC WITHOUT BEING BRAVE
Ok, so maybe we don’t all want to be warriors and trail blazers like Joan. But we shouldn’t fear being burnt at the stake for having a midlife crisis and needing a career change either. After plotting your new path, mount your horse and go for it tooth and nail. And whatever you do, don’t take up the tools that you have just downed and say that your life is too busy to follow your passion. It’s not, there is always a way. Be brave and don’t fall back into your old routine.
During this journey (which I’m also on) we may have a few false starts. We may need to reset our goals, and the journey may be longer than anticipated. But hey, a midlife crisis means that we still have half our life left to reach our destination, doesn’t it?