Above all, one thing is clear to me in my mid-life career reinvention: I want and need to work from home. My desired career in high school was to be a photojournalist for National Geographic, because I wanted to have transcendent mountaintop experiences and write about them, and that's still true today, but in those 30+ years I never made any cohesive movement in that direction. Why?
I believe there lots of factors to consider about one's career or work: temperament, individual design and makeup, circadian tendencies, interests, callings, skills, self-limiting beliefs, circumstances, and more. Society was operating on the Industrial model (cog-in-a-wheel) when I was in school, and we were advised to pick an occupation, go to college for it, and then settle down and make a career out of it. This worked for tons of people, and I always compare myself to their "success". I, on the other hand, operated out of feelings, seasons, spirituality, solitude, my introverted nature, reading books like Siddhartha and Jonathon Livingston Seagull, seeking wisdom and learning, and following my interests. This has led me to a life of career invention which was somewhat limiting, and my two biggest work factors always were: what work was going to give me freedom? (I'd move toward it) and what work can't I stand? (I'd run away from it). Not surprising for a writer in a cog-in-a-wheel model. In other words, I spent a lot of my time in restaurants and the trades, and moving around to different jobs.
So since I'm transitioning into my dream career, and I'm deep in the matrix of exploring contributing factors, I'd thought I'd share my self-coaching process. It's about getting super-clear on what you want, outlining some goals, breaking them down into steps, and getting started. That's the key- getting started. Once you start forward movement, you will quickly see where you're blocked and then you can decide what you want to do about that.
For me, I tried and tried and TRIED to create my work-from-home writer's life, but it wasn't until I took a week off from work and actually stayed home and DID IT that things began to move. I guess I technically had enough hours in the day before, but because of the way I perceive the world I was always feeling time scarcity and that would shut me down, then I'd make no progress. Also I was super frustrated at never getting to do my own work and that was depressing me.
I realized I have/had a ton of self-limiting beliefs, including low self-value, and as soon as I wanted something (like writing, like working from home), then in my mind that thing elevated to mythic and celestial proportions and was for "other people", the good and deserving people (who, ironically, probably didn't even want to be writers). Also, low self-value translates directly into low income. But I now know that nobody gives a shit what anybody else does, and all these beliefs I concocted were just bullshit stories I made up to explain to myself why I felt like a freak all the time. We all make up these stories in varying ways.
It's clear to me now that we all have our Work to do in the world, and to not do it is a disservice. At the very least, in my own experience, not doing it is tantamount to the slow and painful death of unexpressed creativity. Maybe not everyone feels this, but I bet a lot of artists, writers, creatives, and makers do. Unexpressed creativity literally hurts. It's psychological and spiritual pain. Also, I theorize that people of my age group (around 50), who were raised in the Industrial model might have more trouble moving into their perfect careers than younger, Information age people. (By the way, I LOVE that the Information age caught up with me. It's perfect ground for a writer).
Now that I finally believe I'm smart and deserving enough (which has taken YEARS and is still touch-and-go) to create exactly the career I want, then what is that career, what does it look like, and how do I get there?
Answer: I fully support myself through writing books, a blog, and articles (not freelance per-project work). I work from home or anywhere wearing my normal favorite clothes and my schedule is flexible. I believe in my work and it feeds my soul. I get outside and hike, bike, camp, and snowboard all the time and travel regularly. I want to start working from anywhere ASAP, so I will need to do either freelance writing projects or remote bookkeeping until my writing takes off.
Here are the steps I'm working with:
1. Define exactly WHAT KIND OF WORK you want. Write it down.
What work/art/craft do you want to do? Where do you want to work? How many hours a week? How much money do you want/need to make? Do you want to work with others or alone? Do you have a skill or trade or are you an artist-type? What's your temperament? How do you operate? Do you get fired up and inspired by others, or are you sensitive and get overwhelmed? Are you happy and satisfied with your work accomplishments thus far, or do you have a vision, desires, wishes, or longings to bring forth into the world? Do you need to make money off your passions, or can you find a way to do them on the side and be happy? Do you need a transition plan? What do you want your work day to look like- what are you wearing, when do you eat and what, what's out your window, who's there? (Trees and nature out my window, my dogs are in my office, and my kitty, Jupiter, is on the window sill right beside me).
2. What are the OBSTACLES that you perceive prohibit you from doing this dream job you've described? Some blocks are logistical and some are mental/emotional/spiritual. Write them down.
Do you believe you can have your dream work? Do you think you're too old or young? (you're not) Are you qualified- do you need training, school, or certification? Do you need tools or equipment? Do you need financial aid? Do you have loose ends to tie up first? Do you need more free time? Do you need to adjust your schedule? Do you need to move, change relationship status, or wait til the kids are in school or bed? Do you feel deserving? Are you procrastinating? Do you need accountability? (try a coach) Do you have support? (try a Meetup or a professional group) Are you judging yourself? Are you scared? Do you waste time? Are you stuck in your story, shame, or a victim/blame cycle? If you have deep wounding from abuse, neglect, or grief, find a professional to talk to. Clear that stuff out, heal it. Work through your emotional obstacles using the tools of books, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and therapy. You can get most questions answered online, you can find somebody who feels like you feel, you can find inspiration and support. Talk with people. Find a tribe of like-minded people who share your interests or passions.
3. Outline the STEPS that will take you to your Dream Job. Set a time schedule for when you will do these steps. Write it all down. Remember, progress is progress, no matter how slow. Stick with it. Don't give up.
Be specific. Start at the beginning, with the very first steps you can do. Do them. Then write and do the next ones. Ask for help. Be creative and think hard: example- you want to move out of your office job and be a consultant. . . remember that guy at the conference who was working on a project, gave you his card, and asked if you'd help him out? You could call him and ask if he has anything going. Start small- but START- because that's where you'll get clarity around your blocks. If you're resisting a step, lean into it, examine it. What is it telling you? Why are you stuck? Listen to your inner voice- there's information there, use it. Chances are it will speak to an obstacle from Step 2. Go back and do your clearing work.
This coaching model is complex work. It requires time, energy, focus, discipline, and a constant attention to your life, your progress, and your thinking and reactions. Sometimes you have to really stretch to see the possibilities. After all, we only know what we know. But if you start moving forward, the path before you will continue to light up and draw you. You will get what you need when you need it. And if you want to do something, any reason you come up with not to do it is BS, truly. Barring extreme circumstances, I guarantee that the only limitations are in your mind and the way you see yourself and the world. It's never going to be the "right time", you will always be a work-in-progress, and the journey will always be winding. But I've heard many people say that the creation process is where the magic and satisfaction are, it's the communion between inspiration and you, and it feels like that, communion.
And anyways, for those of you who feel a calling to do something, that is not to be ignored. It is your sacred responsibility as a human on this planet to bring forth your gifts. That voice in your mind and your heart is divine and it's asking you to show up in the way you know you are meant to. I know for me, I have to answer that call, because I might as well be dead if I don't, even if I only ever write for myself and because the words need to come out. Writing is life-juice for me, it's sunshine. If you feel like this about something, then I don't need to explain it, and I'm telling you now, it is your given right to feel as if your life has purpose and meaning. In fact, Tony Robbins says it is a basic human need. I promise you, there is always, always a way to get where you want to go, and you can find it.