At the age of 40, I consider myself to be eight years into my “career.”
Eight years ago, I started earning money with my writing.
I have been working since I was 22, but my first decade of employment was spent working out who I am and what is important to me. I believe that many people are similar and that many people's careers start in earnest in their late 20's. Of course, those early years contributed a huge amount of knowledge and experience to my current career direction, but it would be a lie to say that I felt any sense of long-term calling.
I have been ghostwriting articles, speeches, whitepapers and the odd book for people for the past eight years, and happily my calling is now crystal clear. I love what I do, and there are enough people who are willing to pay me to find the right words for them.
Having a “calling” is a wonderful feeling, and the sense that you are in it for the long term offers you a different perspective than those formative years of employment.
As long as my creative faculties remain with me, I see myself doing something associated with writing for the next 30 years. I fully want to work until I am aged 70, or maybe even longer. Granted, I may slow down a little, but I can’t think of a better way of me giving back to the world than making a difference to others through my words.
I’m not a doctor, I’m not a teacher and I’m not a solider. However, I do try to help others heal, learn and fight in my own way. I want to do this for as long as I am able.
I realise that I am lucky in this career clarity, but I truly believe that, after a few years of exploration, we all have the potential to reach that point of awakening.
This is me. This is what I do. And I have another 20-30 years to do it.
For any young professional out there, it can take time to get to this point, but when you do, you will most probably be surprised at just how much time you have left to enjoy it.
There are too many 20-somethings out there on social media who are peddling this notion that people can achieve instant success. To have a rewarding long-term career, you often have to make mistakes, realise things about yourself, and change the record a few times before you find your own personal groove.
It has always been that way; and will always be that way. Human nature dictates that change often happens randomly – it can’t be produced on demand, no matter how many TedX presentations you watch.
You find your calling by getting out there and living your journey.
When you realise that your career is a project, you can become motivated by longer-term goals as well as the shorter-term ones. I hope to send my two kids off to university in 8-10 years’ time and I want to move down to Cornwall in the far South-West of England by the Atlantic Ocean. I would love a house with a view of the stormy seas and would happily spend my post-kiddie days there.
It is entirely possible, and I intend to make it happen.
It might seem a long way away, but when you finally have career clarity, such visions can suddenly seem very real.
It might have taken me ten years to get this clarity, but when you realise that you will be working until you are 65-70, somehow it is worth spending a good few years up front to get it right.
If it doesn’t feel right, you owe it to yourself to change, but not too quickly.
Self-awareness comes from all sorts of strange places.