Take the Hidden Path for a Flexible Career
The following is a life lesson most older professionals rarely talk about, since many fall victim.
This article is the first in a series of candid life lessons I’ll be revealing. My goal is to help others early in their careers to achieve greater personal and professional success, by sharing with you information I’ve acquired simply by being older than you and by watching others collapse under life’s circumstances.
I’ll speak frankly in these life lessons, since I rarely care what others think of me. And that is a mindset that has taken me years to acquire, yet it’s a critical ingredient that underscores life fulfillment and flexible career opportunities.
The Pursuit of “Things” Will Ultimately Trap You & Limit Your Career Choices,
Unless You Do Things Differently…
The reality is, most of us simply want to fit in; thus, my first lesson:
Stop denying the fact that you aren’t trying to fit in. We both know it’s human nature to want others to like us.
Consider the college you attended, the clothes you wear, the car you drive or want to drive, where you shop, as well as the things you agree or disagree with when in conversation with more successful professionals.
Are any of your things or behaviors really any different than those of the people around you? If they are, then know that you’re well on your way to experiencing a life full of choices.
But don’t get me wrong.
There is nothing criminal with wanting to be liked or sharing common accessories amongst associates and friends. However, deep emotional fulfillment only happens when these things are no longer important to you.
Let me say it differently. Many professionals spend their lives pursuing growth and opportunities, including seeking more money, a bigger house, private schooling, batting lessons for their kids — the list of consumption opportunities is endless. I’m guilty of some.
However, when this happens, your career is no longer what you imagined it to be; instead, it becomes a burden, since you now have to finance all of your things. What’s more, the situation usually compounds, since your life partner will also want things.
When you’re financially burdened, you now have fewer career choices. You become just like many of the 40+ year-olds in your office who frequently complain and appear unhappy.
In fact, at some point, you may have thought, “Why don’t they just get another job?”
Because they can’t!
They have so many things, they’re now saddled with having to finance them via a job they despise. The loathing usually stems from being stuck in a career due to needing money. What’s more, they’re older. Companies want younger and more affordable employees, like you. Limiting the options of generations older than you even more.
Still, what goes around comes around.
Today, you’re in demand. Fifteen years from now, not so much. But if you’re like most people, you’ll acquire a bunch of things during these years.
What, you think the pursuit of “things” isn’t going to happen to you? You’re probably mistaken.
Because it takes a very emotionally strong individual, one who is willing to pause and contemplate their own behaviors and beliefs, to not fall into the habit of life’s pursuit of things. Even more challenging is resisting the urge to keep up with others.
Be Happy. Create Options. Take the Hidden Path.
Instead of following the road so many others before you have gone down, why not do things differently — starting today?
Change is possible, but not without heightened awareness of your thoughts and actions.
When you’re able to make change not based on others’ opinions or the things they possess, then know you’re on the path to a deeply fulfilling life that includes broader and more flexible career choices. When you can let go of, “I wonder what they think of me?” you’ll ultimately experience a rich life filled with happiness exclusively based on what you want.
A Simple Example:
This next bit is silly, yet it accentuates my point.
I used to be jealous of some of my neighbors. Their home entryways were filled with decorations far more elaborate than mine. On one particular fall day, I placed a medium size pumpkin on my front steps. It looked nice, so I thought my decorating was complete.
However, as I drove through my neighborhood later that afternoon, I saw porches consumed with hay bushels, scarecrows and heaps of pumpkins. In some instances, entire front lawns had been turned into miniature farms, minus the chickens and goats.
Now, I’m certain there are people in my neighborhood who enjoy expressing themselves through artfulness. This seems healthy to me. Art is a tremendous form of expression.
But, in reality, most are trying to look good. In truth, I got caught up in the hype, but was able to stop myself midway to the local farm stand.
Once I reflected on what was driving me — being worried about what others thought of me — I realized that I was perfectly fine with the one pumpkin. Once I redirected my viewpoint toward myself, rather than others, I was able to adjust my thinking and, more importantly, my behavior. The fact is, I stink at decorating and I’m okay with it.
You still have time to pause before acquiring another thing and financially trapping yourself, ultimately limiting your career choices.
Keep in mind, no matter how much money you make or how accomplished your job title is, life is a lonely and costly experience when you’re surrounded by things you acquired to create impressions of something you’re not.
Before your next big purchase, ask yourself:
Is this really for me or am I doing this for other reasons? If you feel healthy about your reasons, have at it.
But remember, when you live your life from someone else’s viewpoint, you’ll always be unfulfilled. If you don’t believe me, simply listen closely. Many people have nice things, but are frequently talking about the next thing they want.
It would be unfair to you if I didn’t mention this:
Most people do not self-reflect. It’s not a natural tendency, and when we do, oftentimes we don’t like what we see. Therefore, most people avoid the exercise. However, for those who consciously take a good hard look at themselves, and then make change, know that it can be lonely on the other side of your transformation — briefly.
Ultimately, you’ll meet others who align with your less-is-more life approach; it’ll just take some time.
Let me leave you with this:
To date, exactly what have you done differently in your pursuit of things that truly differs from that of the grumpy 40-something professional across from you?
If your path is similar, then what you see is a reflection of your future self.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sharron Senter is a freelance brand journalist obsessed with words. Her writing helps create an influx of customers for a broad range of businesses.
A loyal small business advocate, Senter writes about realistic marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs maintain their independence. Her most recent work includes DUPLICATE YOURSELF: Small Business Piggybacking & Partnership Marketing Strategies, available at Amazon.