Excavating Your Midlife Self: Leading Through Career Transformation by Mona DelSole, MPA

Faculty Photo (1)“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him [or her] free.”  Michelangelo.

If I were to share my strongest feeling about growing older it is my desire to not become old in spirit.  For me, that means to keep moving forward with greater authenticity and meaning.  I reflected on many questions over the past year.  Questions like:  In midlife, do we still have dreams and goals or is it wind down time?  Do we want to be more? Do more? Contribute more? Or are we content with good enough?  Or do we long to thrive with deeper meaning?

Though I enjoyed working in a meaningful career for years (and still do), I often found myself wanting something that felt more authentic to my own dreams and goals.  Having come from a family of entrepreneurs, my dream has been to launch and grow a business that focuses entirely on helping others grow themselves and their businesses to the next level.  Recently, as a certified business coach with the John Maxwell Team, I am experiencing the satisfaction of helping people gain clarity and move from feeling stuck to realizing their business goals.  As I continue to excavate and challenge my midlife self, I hope to do more of this work in the years ahead.

The courage to change and get myself to this starting point is requiring that I develop more patience with my own personal process. I continue to excavate deep….to find my purpose, gain clarity and create my authentic vision.  I began by enrolling in the coaching program with the John Maxwell Team.  There I learned how to coach and be coached.  I was also trained and mentored in personal development and leadership.  The process forced me to dig deep within myself and eventually helped me to face my midlife fears and hopes.  What I discovered is that the courage to change, at any age, can result in a fulfilling personal and professional transformation.  While each of us has his or her own personal journey, it’s important that it be authentically one’s own for lasting and meaningful transformation to occur.

As a leadership coach, I have learned that everything rises and falls on leadership.  Most importantly, I have discovered that inspirational leadership empowers each one of us, especially when we learn to lead ourselves.  So, as I continue to excavate, I will share what has been helpful on my own transformational journey:

Seven tips to excavating your midlife self, if you want to transform your career:

1-Write Your Vision Down.

There is something powerful about writing your desire. It makes it feel more possible. By working with the end in mind, we know where we are headed and can then move towards our goals.

2-So, What Do You Want?

Be specific. Visualize what it would look like working in your own business or a different career. How would that feel to you? Write down what you are feeling.  Hold that connected feeling and picture what you desire.  Do you want to craft your own chocolates and sell them at a local gourmet market? Or maybe even own a gourmet market!  Now make two lists: one with all your creative thoughts and the other with your conservative thoughts. Does anything on there appeal to you?  Maybe a combination of the two feels right?  The idea is to dig until you reach what feels most authentic to who you are and what you desire.

3-Respect Your Individual Process.

Maybe you desire a career change but how to go about it feels unclear to you.  Consider what your process for change might look like:  Do you need to make incremental changes? Jump in with both feet?  For example, when I began writing years ago, I eventually learned that I needed to do so in small steps. Sitting down for a large amount of writing can be frustrating to me, as much as I would like to get it all completed in one session.  But, I have learned to respect that my own process takes a little more time than I prefer and is best done in small increments. This realization of what works best for me has led to increased productivity and less frustration.

4-Trust Yourself.

In a world where trust can be an issue for all of us, learning to trust yourself is imperative at this point in life.  As a coach, I have come to look within much more and ask many opened ended questions. The foundation of coaching is based on the belief that we all have the answers within ourselves.  Learn to ask questions of yourself and when you struggle with the answers, know that this is a great sign that you are about to experience a breakthrough.  Be ok with your own answers.  You will be best served by answering your own questions rather than someone giving you what they think your version of the answers should be.  You WILL figure out what is best for you.

5-Be A Dreamkeeper.

Embrace your career dreams, hopes and desires.  Maybe it’s a discussion to be shared with your loved ones at some point, but ultimately at midlife, it’s the discussion with yourself that matters.  Give yourself permission to invest in your dreams.  At midlife, many of us have spent years giving to family and others, often putting ourselves last on the list or not on the priority list at all.  These days, I write my name on the priority list and it my excavating continues.

6-Face The Unknown With Courage.

What are your fears?  We have to identify and write them down as well.  Now, become a prosecuting attorney and build your case against those fears.  Build a case against each one of them.  I love to know what lies ahead on my journey. So much so that I have not ventured forward many times in life, simply because I could not foresee or control what lie ahead.  Go for it.  We just need to see directly in front of us to move ahead.  There is a saying in my John Maxwell mentorship program that I have come to respect… “do it afraid”. Do not let fear immobilize you.

7-Find An Accountability Partner.

If you are ready to make a significant change, career or otherwise, find an accountability partner.  Someone you trust who may be experiencing similar changes. This is a great opportunity for support and progress.  Set a weekly call and plan at least three tasks each week that you will work on with your accountability partner.  I am doing this and it is amazing how much more I get done each week as compared to not having a partner.

Can excavating our midlife selves really transform careers?

Any change involves a certain amount of risk and can be scary. The good news is that by challenging ourselves to dig deeper, we get liberated.  We free ourselves to explore what more meaning and significance looks like for ourselves.  We can then spend the remainder of our work life doing what we love, giving more of our authentic self to ourselves and others.  All of which can lead to greater career satisfaction.  Many of us are opening up to the possibility of a new career passion at midlife.  Could that be you?

Mona DelSole, MPA

Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker

Member of the John Maxwell Team