By Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC and John M. O’Connor, MFA, CRW
You might encounter career milestones, such as a large pay increase, your appointment to a special/high office, or election as an officer in your professional association or group. You might be interviewed by a national publication, obtain career recognition and raises or have your biographical information published in a legitimate industry Who’s Who of some kind. At such times, you might find yourself naturally inclined to entertain self renewal: a rethinking of who you are, where you are, and where you wish to be. Even if your career milestones don’t line up this way find creative opportunities to and just about any reason to purposefully renew yourself.
Milestones for the Taking
Non-career-related milestones that encourage self renewal include an invitation to be on a special committee supporting your town council, a request from your local newspaper about your views on a community issue for their opinion page, or a decision by a literary magazine to publish your poem. It could be participation in almost any volunteer activity related to children or adults in need or causes that matter to you. It may be recognition for exceptional efforts given to others through your church or a community organization. Whenever any of these kinds of events or recognition of your personal time and efforts occur, given the new situation, you might find it fitting and appropriate to re-examine your life.
It’s so important during these times to find out what matters to you and what causes deserve your support. For one person it may be supporting causes that relate to family, health, acknowledgement of a loved one who has passed or in support of children with special needs. It matters that whatever your reason for self-renewal focused milestones is that they come from the heart and not necessarily because you want a career enhancing volunteer activity to be noticed by others. Ironically when you do what you believe in and support what you believe in it can directly impact your work life, personal life, intellectual and spiritual life in very profound ways.
Also evaluate personal milestones in your life. For example, a four-year scholarship may mean that, instead of your son or daughter working the summer before entering college, the whole family can go on an extended vacation. A partial scholarship to anything or grant earned could lead to new opportunities you or your family would not have had without this recognition and reward. Life milestones don’t have to be monumental. Any clear positive progress from you or your children should be considered not too small to evaluate, celebrate and add to for positive self-renewal.
Before and After a Significant Other Change
If you’re in a relationship, particularly a long-term one, and it ends, whether your heart is slightly broken or seemingly crushed beyond repair, life moves on. Having your significant other leave you is a difficult change to endure. Even if you initiated the breakup, the loss of a significant other can profoundly impact you. Even ending long-term business relationships can have similar and critical impact.
Many psychologists believe that we need to learn certain lessons, so we attract partners (personally and professionally) that will help us learn such lessons. Some people believe we are attracted to others who seemingly have what we lack, so in our quest to be complete, we want relationships with these people to complete us.
In either case, until we learn the importance of being relatively whole and complete individuals in and of ourselves, we’re bound to repeat the same types of relationship mistakes with subsequent partners; thus, if you’re breaking up with or divorcing your significant other and haven’t learned more about yourself and your needs, you run a large risk of replicating your prior relationship. If you know your relationship is not going to make it, you have opportunities to make serious changes in your life.
Whether you’ve recently found someone new or you’re in a long-term relationship, you have the opportunity to view your mate in a new light. Perhaps it’s time to talk about how your relationship will be in the coming month, year, or five years. If you’re in that in-between time, looking for somebody and not sure when and where he or she will appear, then think about what you’re looking for in your next relationship.
Preparing for the Next
Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting into your next relationship. What kind of person do you want to meet? What level of commitment are you willing to offer? What level of sacrifice are you prepared to make? In what kind of activities do you want to engage? How much energy will you devote to the relationship? Will you listen this time?
All of these types of issues can be converted to goal statements that will help ensure you achieve these renewed relationship standards. You might take the last one, for example. Ask yourself how will you listen this time? Could appear as an established goal.
If you are serious, once you’re in a relationship with someone, and you intend to make it last and be a better partner, share this goal with your significant other. If you are not willing to share, then perhaps you are not as serious about being a good listener as you had originally thought.
People often experience major pain before they make significant changes in their relationships. When one partner or the other threatens to leave, then, and sometimes only then, will the other partner agree to make changes. Changes under duress have a nasty habit of lasting only as long as the duress is present. What’s more, while changes can be imposed on you by someone else, they have to be internalized, i.e., made your own, if they are to be effective.
Another useful factor in terms of self-renewal is age. The mere fact that you turn 30 or 40 might be enough of an incentive for you to buckle down and try something new. A birthday ending in zero is a huge event. When you turn 30, 40, 50, or 60, you’ve passed a stage in life you’ll never pass again. It is a great time to clear out the old and bring in the new things in your life which can include both your personal and work life.
Age 40 has traditionally been a milestone, as in the expression, Life begins at 40. Age 65 is a traditional retirement age. Age 80, becoming an octogenarian, is, in recent decades, held as a rite of passage. Age 90 is even more exclusive. Age 100 will garner you a postcard from the president.
Anniversaries are also milestones in your life. Each anniversary represents the opportunity for self-renewal. A 25th anniversary is certainly notable, and every five-year interval after that is admirable. Fiftieth anniversaries are rare, but you may be among the lucky few.
What’s the bottom line? Use age as a point of departure for progress in your life not a negative stake in the ground. Take the opportunity to renew yourself during passages through your own life cycle. Make any age anniversary you can to increase your physical fitness, develop new healthy habits and grow economically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. Sadly most people view age as a time to settle, consolidate, rest and cut back. Don’t. Watch the masses and do the opposite! Consider the opportunities for self-renewal before and after moving, when changing a job, or when changing a mate. Also, identify and acknowledge career and personal milestones that you can use to establish new ideas for your life.
Circumstances consistently present themselves as chances to renew your life. It is up to you to take advantage of them. Sometimes we need a little help reaching those milestones are even setting those milestones in place and developing the discipline to achieve them. Our focus at CareerPro is coaching people through career and also life transitions, challenging them to stretch beyond their comfort zones and transform their lives. Taking this time to focus on yourself, devoting the energy toward your discovery and goals can be very rewarding and by finding self renewal in your personal life will reflect in your work life, build your confidence and help you towards your goals of success. Give us a call today at 919-787-2400 to discuss with us how we can help you continue to move forward and succeed despite any obstacles life may send your way.