Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Process of Re-inventing Yourself

I'm not sure why, but I've had a large (20+) number of men in their 40s reach out to me recently for career advice.

As one said, "it's kind of like halftime of your working life, so it's natural to think about what you did in the first half and what you want to do in the second half."

All of them are upstanding members of society. No deadbeats or anything like that. Valuable workers and contributors.

They are just reassessing and re-evaluating.

I've been listening to them intently, trying to understand their needs and do my best to offer something of value.

For each of them, I think they are looking for a purpose, a mission. Not in the "I'm going to cure cancer" type of way, but in the "I want something that is going to be challenging and fulfilling" type of way.

Yes, they have the luxury of doing that and not everyone does, but let's leave that aside.

After a long walk with one person today, I was able to narrow the process of discovering the mission/the process to 3 components.

  1. Read.
    But don't read the things you feel like you have to read. Read the things that you want to read. Follow your curiosity. Almost like when you discovered the Internet for the first time.  Find some subjects which pique your curiosity and start to explore them.
  2. Talk...well, really, listen.
    Call up your friends (like me), but don't say "hey, I'm looking for a job." Say "hey, I'm exploring some ideas and wanted to share them with you and see what you think."  Keep those chats to 15 minutes (because not everyone is in the exploration phase with you). Offer to do it while they are driving in the car and have some downtime.  And don't make the conversation all about you. Help them understand how the things you are discovering and exploring can be of real, immediate, practical value to them.
  3. Write...or Work.
    I was listening to a fantastic podcast yesterday with one of my favorite people, Venkat, the founder of . He talked about the "daemon" that possesses us. But it's not in the negative sense. It's in the Greek sense.  It's that feeling you get when you are just immersed and passionate about your work. We've all been there. But we've all felt its absence.  The key, Venkat says, is to just "show up."

    Just do your work (whether it's writing, painting, coding, exercising, or whatever) and do it religiously.  Then, when the daemon appears, you're ready.

    This was emphasized recently by 2 people who recommended the book, The Originals to me (I haven't read it yet).

    The point was...sometimes quantity beats quality...and only through quantity can you get to your newfound quality.
It can be extremely frustrating not knowing what the next phase is. And this process doesn't guarantee results. But I think it will help you uncover what that next mission is.
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