What happens when, at mid-life, you wake up feeling that there must be something more? Anne’s story provides some clues. Anne went from jet mechanic in the military to legal secretary to sales professional to sales management back to sales professional. In her last career, she was doing recycling – “which is pretty much, you know, what kind of trash can I buy? And now I’m doing technology sales.”
When she “got fed up” with technology sales and was also transitioning through menopause, she walked away from her job and detoured into recycling before moving into technology sales. She said:
“I moved into technology sales because I was ready for a change, but I don’t like it. I find that these kids – and they are – just kids – they’re half my age and they just don’t get it I was taught that when you’re at a job you run it for profit and you follow business ethics and you don’t cut corners. You don’t cut throats, you respect one another. There’s two type of people – there’s the kind – you know, when you walk into a furniture store and they’re all can I help you, can I help you and then there’s the kind of sales person who wants to build a relationship and develop that relationship. These kids don’t get relationship sales. They have this what’s in it for me mentality and I just got fed up with the whole environment. I was just fed up with these whiny, backstabbing kids. They aren’t taught that businesses are run for profit – that you run it as if it’s your own business – they don’t have that mentality. They have a drama queen mentality.”
This might have been a great place to do some research and some reassessment. When you suddenly feel out of place, one first step is to find out more about the people surrounding you. There are excellent resources for understanding Gen X and Gen Y. Are they truly a whiny bunch or do they simply think and express themselves differently? The newest cohorts in the workplace don’t defer to authority the way older workers do. They express their ideas and opinions. They look for ways to improve processes and they move quickly. Perhaps understanding this might have helped Anne.
Reassessment should be part of every life transition. Who are you now? What do you want? Anne did this:
“It was a real journey. Yeah – I really started to look at me as me. I mean, me as a bottom-feeder. You know, I guess I really allowed myself to feel kicked down. It lasted until I decided to get back into technology sales. Which was 13 months. And I don’t know if it was brought on by menopause – I mean, I really and truly don’t what brought that on – or post-menopause.
I didn’t realize that was my next journey – my next transition, if you will. And it was a transition, because I did feel completely kicked down. I read a lot of therapy books. And start seeing a psychologist – a psychiatrist . I mean, literally, to pick myself back up. I’ve spent this whole year reading all kinds of books. I read The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for the Effective Communication in the Workplace by P.F. Perkins – she really did do a good job writing about interracial – or different groups – she writes about working with these young kids, The Last Lecture- everybody knows that was a good book, by Randy Pausch, The Secret – and then I found a really good tape called The Secret Things to God – every Sunday now I’m pretty darned religious. I don’t know that that had popped out, but now it’s back in. Keeping the Love You Find, 7 Habits of Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Giving the Love that Heals. I mean, I was really kicked down. I really, um – Your Perfect Right, which was an excellent book by Albert Nevins.”
And she found a good therapist:
“When I was growing up – and I’m a 60’s child – late 60’s , early 70’s is when I graduated, and coming from California, Haight-Ashbury – and I know that growing up I’d always heard about a generation gap. Well that’s what I feel I’m caught up in right now. It is a generation gap. And that’s what prompted me to start seeing Dr. B – was that there was such a communication gap between myself and my peers and these younger kids.”
There are great self-help books, excellent therapists, wonderful workshops and brilliant coaches all out there for you. I love Suzanne Braun Levine’s Inventing the Rest of Our Lives. A big portion of my own coaching practice involves working with women at midlife who want to sort out what’s next. As Anne says,
“Let’s just say when you’re kicked down, it’s a a journey to pick yourself back up. It really is. And it’s a lot of self-assessment. And its not so much of looking backwards. Its living in the now and what can I do to adjust to the now.”
Feeling down? Confused? Here are a few resources available to you at www.susanrmeyer.com/free-resources/:
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