Mid-life can be the pause that re­freshes

There has never been more info and op­por­tu­nity to re-eval­u­ate and make mean­ing­ful change

Midtown Post - - The New Mid Life - by Re­becca Eck­ler RE­BECCA ECK­LER Post City Mag­a­zines’ colum­nist Re­becca Eck­ler is the au­thor of Knocked Up, Wiped!, and her lat­est books, How to Raise a Boyfriend and The Lucky Sperm Club.

This month, most of our chil­dren are grad­u­at­ing schools, from Grade 1 to those head­ing off to univer­sity. At the same time, iron­i­cally, ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion I’ve had with friends over the past few months, has fo­cused on our “pur­pose” in life. I am con­stantly hear­ing, “I hate my job!” Hey, at least you’re not alone. Most of my friends, like me, are in “the new mid-life,” in our 40s and feel we need a ca­reer change.

Un­like our par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion, we don’t re­ally want the same ca­reer for, well, ever. Un­like our par­ents, too, they didn’t need ca­reer con­sul­tants or life coaches, and, for that mat­ter, our par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion prob­a­bly hadn’t even heard of life coaches or ca­reer con­sul­tants.

So how ex­actly, when we hit “the new midlife” and are ques­tion­ing what we do with the rest of our lives, do we make a change? I had no idea, so I talked with Carly Cooper, at car­ly­coop­er­coach­ing.com, pos­si­bly the most well-known life coach in Toronto (who is also mar­ried to the tal­ented artist Marc Cooper.)

“Most of my clients are women in their late 30s to mid-40s and am­bi­tious. A lot of them have had kids who are now in school, and this is the time they are think­ing about them­selves and have reached a point of ask­ing, “What do I re­ally want to do? They feel un­ful­filled, bored, lost, un­chal­lenged, stuck and con­fused.”

Times have changed. The new mid-lif­ers are now giv­ing them­selves per­mis­sion to reeval­u­ate and not set­tle.

Life coaches or ca­reer con­sul­tants are as main­stream nowa­days as juice cleanses.

“People come to me ask­ing, ‘ What am I sup­posed to do now? I’m too scared to take a risk even though I hate what I’m do­ing,’ ” says Cooper.

On the upside, says Cooper, there is more aware­ness that people no longer have to “set­tle,” be it in re­la­tion­ships or ca­reers.

There’s a “move­ment” now to­ward “hap­pi­ness” and “joy,” says Cooper, in­stead of

“You have to fig­ure out what is your per­cep­tion and what is the re­al­ity.”

just hav­ing an im­pres­sive ti­tle or money in the bank. Cooper helps “lost” people fig­ure out what would make them happy when it comes to mak­ing this huge change.

First, she asks clients, “If you were be­ing hon­est and knew that fail­ure wasn’t an op­tion, what would you do?”

Cooper is like a walk­ing, talk­ing bill­board of in­spi­ra­tional say­ings and quotes. It’s im­pos­si­ble not to like her, be­cause she does seem to have fig­ured her pas­sion out, is al­ways laugh­ing and has found her pur­pose.

“I have clients who, on paper, have it all. They have Har­vard de­grees, money in the bank and they are still self-doubt­ing their ca­reer choice af­ter decades, which leads to low self-es­teem be­cause they are con­fused and scared. Our gen­er­a­tion was bred and brought up to think that get­ting an im­pres­sive job or ti­tle, pleas­ing our par­ents meant hap­pi­ness and joy. But now they are re­al­iz­ing it’s not enough.”

One client, she tells me, who was so lost af­ter her two chil­dren got older, came to her, and as Cooper says, “She needed a men­tal ad­just­ment. And, by talk­ing it out, and fo­cus­ing on what she re­ally wants, she went from ‘zero to hero’ within three months af­ter get­ting a job she loved. She even won an award at the com­pany within those three months.”

An­other client, who made tens of mil­lions, sell­ing a com­pany, was also lost. Cooper is help­ing her fig­ure out her next steps be­cause she does not want to con­tinue in the in­dus­try she’s in. (Ob­vi­ously, money does not al­ways buy hap­pi­ness!)

Ba­si­cally, Cooper says bluntly, people need to “grow a pair,” if they re­ally want a ca­reer change. Clients are scared of the risks and what oth­ers will think. “But it’s your jour­ney and no one else’s.”

I also talked to Aileen Crowne, a cer­ti­fied ca­reer con­sul­tant at Crowne Holt and As­so­ciates, who also has seen a trend that im­pacts us in the new mid-life.

“There are trends I see in cer­tain in­dus­tries that are in­dus­tries for young people. As you get older, you do get too old for some of these jobs, like PR and any­thing in com­mu­ni­ca­tions. It’s a young per­son place to be. So I have a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced older people I see who no longer want to be in cer­tain in­dus­tries or have been laid off be­cause of that.”

She, too, asks clients what is their pas­sion, be­fore get­ting to the nitty-gritty ques­tions that they must ask them­selves be­fore mak­ing a leap in ca­reers.

“People need to ask them­selves, how do you want your life to be set up? How much time do you want to spend with your chil­dren or your ag­ing par­ents? Do you want to be in the city? You need to look at the whole per­son, and that’s part of the process, find­ing that bal­ance,” says Crowne.

Like Cooper, she says, people re­ally need to look deep into them­selves.

There is a sil­ver lin­ing. Not ev­ery­one re­ally hates their jobs, even if they think they do.

“First and fore­most, you have to fig­ure out what is your per­cep­tion and what is the re­al­ity. You may re­ally ac­tu­ally love your job, but it may be other things, such as hav­ing an aw­ful man­ager. Then I will work on how to get along bet­ter with the man­agers.”

So, yes, change ca­reers. It’s to­tally ac­cept­able these days, even and es­pe­cially in the new midlife. And if you hap­pen to see me pilot­ing the ferry to Cen­tre Is­land, well, you know I made the leap!

Re­becca Eck­ler and Carly Cooper get down to the life-chang­ing busi­ness

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