Live Life More Proactively

I have lived most of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I turn 45 in just a few days now. Based on the average life expectancy of a healthy male in the United States, I have already lived over half my life. My message is that I always lived in fear, day to day, wondering if I would be able to make my rent, if I was saving enough for retirement, was I doing well enough at work. What happens if I get laid off or fired.

I have been living my life in fear. Living a small life, not being proactive and thinking about how I could adjust my life to live it more meaningfully.

I have worked in the tech industry for many years. Looking back, I never wanted to be in that role. I wanted to be in a more creative role. A creative role such as writing, possibly? To this day I haven’t been able to pin down exactly what would make me happy. Maybe the reason I haven’t been able to resolve this issue is because I have been going about it wrong.

In a sense, in today’s society, you find a career and the main driver is money. Money will eventually make you happy, right? No, it won’t. It might be a good carrot on a stick when I was younger, but I am driven to find purpose in the work I do.

Adding in the need for purpose just complicates an already confusing puzzle. The majority of jobs out there don’t have purpose. The majority of work is meaningless. You would be hard pressed to find meaning in organizing a random spreadsheet or putting together a slide chart for a meeting. There are exceptions of course, however the majority of work completed by people has no intrinsic value for them except to provide a paycheck.

So, maybe the answer is that there is no one single job that will provide purpose to any given individual, possibly we are meant to find purpose in multiple avenues? I think this might be more of the truth. I for one would like to volunteer more. I have volunteered for organizations in the past, and this has satisfied my itch to help others. I didn’t need to get a masters degree in psychology to volunteer at an animal shelter or hospital.

I do think that a job should provide some level of enjoyment and self satisfaction. Being a in career where you like what you are do and do what you like makes for a far more satisfacory life than constantly going against the grain, feeling like you are always swimming up stream.

That is where am currently at in my career, swimming against the stream. I think I need to swim towards shore, dry myself off and pick a different path. My arms are getting way too tired to continue doing this.

Midlife career change

How do we know where to head when we don’t know where we currently are? I have been struggling with finding my path in life for quite a while now.  I would like to change careers but I don’t know what career suites me.  I am afraid to step off the ledge.

My biggest fear would be…well, fear.  Fear of the unknown. It probably also doesn’t help that I don’t trust my intuitive instincts. I want to say that I am consciously aware of what I want and don’t want in life, but I would be lying. I struggle to understand what my base needs and desires are.

I know that I crave to live an autonomous life. I want to work for myself.  Back when I was in my late teens, I ran a small lawn care business.  I mowed a number of people’s lawns throughout the summer. It was enjoyable.  I arrived when I wanted at the job, and I took as many breaks and as long a lunch as I wanted, too.

I just struggle in seeing the big picture.  I let each day go by with no progress in sight, firm plan of what I am trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating, and time keeps ticking by. I struggle to see where I stand in this life.

I don’t feel like I fit in, especially in the corporate culture. I feel like I aged out at 40.  That is crazy to think of, but today’s work environment seems to be tailored to baby the millennial generation.   A 9-5 job pays well in some regards, but you give up a hell of a lot in return. I never really thought of it that much until recently.  You lose a lot of your freedom in some sense, and autonomy and purpose are usually put to the side in favor of what the employer’s wants are.

So, what do I want in this life? Like I said, autonomy is paramount.  I would like to pursue multiple areas of interest, if possibly.  I have bought and sold on Ebay for over twenty years. Jesus, has it been that long, really? I think pursuing a side hustle in flipping items and sourcing items from online and locally could be pretty lucrative.  I would need to build up the business, though.  Nothing is for free, well it is…but that is another story.

I want to also pursue creative work.  I am artistically inclined, though, I am very rusty and I don’t have many skills, but I am a good learner. I love to learn.  I have read a number of articles from people in the business that say after 40, you will have a hard time finding work in the creative field. I don’t know if this is true, but I think there are areas or niches where this isn’t so prevalent.  I just like the idea of working remotely and using skills that I have to earn more money.  I don’t want to rely on one employer.  I have a drive to use my creative mind, to design and create.

Helping and connecting with others is also a big drive for me.  Over the past couple months, I have joined a number of Zoom meetups, and I have met a lot of great people.  I never really explored this side of myself. I am pretty avoidant, so I don’t usually put myself out there that often. It has been a wonderful experience to open myself up to others, and be well received.   People on the whole are good.

So, that is about it. I want to work for myself, where I can use my intuition to procure items, and sell them to the highest bidder. I would also like to polish my skills in creative work, and at the same time reach out and build meaningful connections with others.

I’m sure there are others out there in the same predicament.  It seems that I have come across others who are in their early 40’s or later that have come to the realization that what they are currently doing for work is not what they would like to continue to do until they retire. And this is ok.  You are only on this planet for a finite amount of time.  I think it is wise to steer yourself onto a better path, even if some people might be dismayed by your decision.

Where Do I Go From Here?

After getting off the bus in the late afternoon, yesterday,  I drove twenty minutes north to attend a Toastmasters meeting.  I have never really been the first one to speak up in a group setting. I have always been content to stay silent and let others speak for me.

As I have gotten older, I have become keenly aware that my lack of visibility in team meetings, and group outings can have a detrimental affect on how I perceive myself, and how I am perceived by others.

I guess what I am saying is that when you choose to behave like you are invisible in life, don’t expect many opportunities to come your way.

Naturally, I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).  For me to actively extrovert throughout the day, it thoroughly drains me. When I get home, I feel like I had run a twenty five mile marathon. I conserve energy by purposefully not taking in all the sights and sounds that occur around me, on a daily basis. Working in a loud single room with dozens of cubicles causes my soul to wither.

With all the distractions and obligation to extrovert in order to win the favor of my extroverted manager, I feel like an abject failure, at the end of the day. Even when things go well, they don’t really.  My job doesn’t fit me, my coworkers for the most part don’t fit me, the work is something I could walk away from today, and not feel the slightest bit of remorse.  God, this is starting to sound depressing.

Getting back to why I went to a Toastmasters meeting,  I wanted to do something outside the norm for me.  I already feel anxious about my career, and what lays ahead of me in the near future, but to push myself slightly more outside my comfort zone, it feels exhilarating.  It gives me a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, I can be something different, I can reimagine myself and my future.

In order to make a career shift, it will take persistence and dedication.  It is scary not being able to see what is just over the hill, but then again it is also exhilarating too.  Life is a journey, it is meant to be experienced.  I want to get to the end of my life and look back and be proud of what I have accomplished.  So far, I cannot say that about myself, for the most part.

If you never take chances in life, and strive to grow into a better version of yourself, life becomes stagnant and you run the risk of missing out on some great opportunities.

So, my advice for myself and you is…get out there and take measured chances, speak to new people, learn new things, grow a little every day. Your soul will thank you for the effort.