As I work with people who are developing their Second Half Careers, a pattern is beginning to emerge. It seems that there are eight essentials that will enable people to really set out a future which is going to work for them into the second half of their working lives.
I believe that by tackling these eight essentials you have a real opportunity to set yourself on a path for freedom and joy at work. Perhaps some of them will feel very obvious to you. For me it is about all eight being brought together in a coherent discovery process to understand what is going to really matter for you. I am just going to touch on them in this blog, but I do explore them in more detail elsewhere at 8essentials.biz .
1 – Permission to Dream
The first thing that I think is absolutely crucial is to re-discover permission to dream. We are told that without vision a people are dead. Without permission to dream you cannot even step into the possibility of vision. For so many of us we have been bound so tightly by shoulds and musts and oughts that we can no longer engage with the possible, the maybe or the hope of the extraordinary.
2 – Understand Personal Purpose and Passion
As people start to engage in that permission to dream, it gives them a doorway into understanding their personal purpose and passion. When we are younger, we often have some clarity of purpose and passion (I wanted to be a multi-millionaire!) and then as we move through our teenage years this can become confused. Maybe something has happened to you that means you have a new sense of purpose. Or something you’ve noticed that’s given you a fresh passion.
But for many of us we need to go on a journey of re-examination. What might have held us as purpose and passion no longer feels relevant or compelling and as we step into the second halves of our working lives, we have discovered new things that are important. So, digging deep and reshaping purpose and passion for the second half of our lives is a crucial step. However, we can still be burdened with the sense of the impossible.
3 – Build the Courage to Succeed
The third essential in my view is to build the courage to succeed. How can you remember those other places where you have stepped out? How can you prepare to take a risk into an uncertain future? How can you move from creeping change to committing to a significant break out? Where can you find what is within you to re-build that courage to succeed.
4 – Developing a Strong Personal Brand
All of this personal work sets the scene for helping to understand what you really stand for. The fourth essential is developing a much stronger personal brand. You may have been involved in brand review exercises in your previous work. Brand is about a promise. It is about what you value and what you believe in. It’s an opportunity to step into who you believe you were created to become and, from that base, start to, with integrity and with the authority of that belief, express yourself into the various places where your voice can be heard, and your influences felt. Where you can show up as more truly you. So that understanding of personal brand is essential before you then start to communicate that out and start to attract the interest that is going to make your second half career a powerful fruitful time.
5 – Building up your Talents
As you’ve started to explore a different kind of future you may feel that there are all sorts of barriers to success because you don’t have the talents that you need. In my view talent is the full expression of skills, knowledge, experience and aptitude. Of these four, aptitude is essential but not enough. A small amount of aptitude can go a long way in building up your talents. Are you defining your talents in the right way? Maybe your talents should be seen in the light of your future, rather in the light of whatever job description or functional responsibilities you may have had. If you have an extraordinary talent for connection and engaging others as somebody responsible for running an HR function it could be an incredibly powerful, transferable talent that you could bring into your future.
6 – Build your team of Supporters
The sixth thing as you step into freedom and joy at work is to understand and build up your team of supporters. These can come from all sorts of different areas and can fulfil all sorts of different functions. Again, and again I come across people who, although they may have friends and they may have acquaintances, for the most important choices and the hardest things they are facing they feel very alone. Have you got a trusted mentor? Have you got people who believe in you? Have you got people who you can enjoy just having fun with? Where are the former colleagues who can recommend you? Where are the people who can help you with the everyday tasks that are going to enable you to step into a different kind of future: that is going to release you from the humdrum. Whether your team of supporters is the person who helps you to keep your house clean so that you can build up a new workstyle. Or whether amongst your team of supporters is a long-term advocate who just believes that you have got so much more to offer and will trumpet your capability to whoever is prepared to listen. Be intentional about recognising and building the team you need.
7 – Financial Freedom
Then the seventh thing that I would encourage you to look at is what financial freedom means for you. Is money your servant or is it the thing that enslaves you? Is financial freedom having more money than you could ever want, or is it about having choices about what money is really for? Working with individuals who say that their life does not work unless they have £5k, £10k, £15k even £20k of income each month, I really wonder if they are setting the right stage for financial freedom. When I meet very rich people wealth in itself is a burden, a barrier to having the life that they really want. I am absolutely convinced that coming into a right relationship with money is essential for you to have freedom and joy at work.
We have talked about seven things that set a platform for you to step out into freedom and joy at work, but all of that understanding, information and discovery won’t make any difference unless you start to form it into some kind of plan.
8 – Commit
So that eighth essential is the commitment to finding freedom and joy. Making those first steps, those commitments to a date when things are going to be different. Get the support from those closest to you so they will stand with you as you make some challenging choices and go forward with things that, to some people, will look foolish.
If you want freedom and joy at work, I believe you need to address these eight essentials. There may be other things that are important to you. There may be other advice that you have about things that you need to sort out, but ultimately if you don’t have these eight essentials to a certain level of understanding, revelation and commitment, you will never step into the future that you could have.
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Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.