What to do at 47

What to do at 47

You have a family, are happily married, have worked exceptionally long hours for your company for the last decade or more and are feeling slightly bored and somewhat exhausted. You are in your early forties and wonder what to do about this vague sense of dissatisfaction. You have some financial backing but not enough to finish putting the children through school and university – and retiring – so you must still work for money.

When you have time to think about it you are somewhat concerned about the state of the world. Mostly you worry about the state of your business and whether it will exchange you for a robot or for someone younger. Your appraisals have been very good – in fact, rather better than you expected given the not infrequent criticism you have received from your boss. But his rants are verbal and your appraisals are in black and white.

You have got into the habit of taking a drink or two with a colleague before you head for home if it isn’t too late. You both deserve some reward for the work you put in. He or she may be a sympathetic ear and invariably has some gossip about the business that is worth listening to. You often don’t mention your drink and suck a peppermint on the way home.

From time to time you wonder about the second half of your career. You will want to work for a long time yet. The first 25 years of having a job have been fun but the changes you see now are making it more demanding. Bright as you are, the pace of change is disturbing – and you see that there will be a lot more to come. Your wife worries about these things, too, in particular how they will affect the children. You both talk of ‘taking a break’.

You are not having a midlife crisis. Nowadays we all have these and they mostly start when we are about 25 and continue for as long as we can remember anything. No, this is not a midlife crisis. In fact it is not a crisis at all. It is a perfectly normal lack of purpose. The part of your life up to now has been spent proving who you are and that you can do it. Exactly what you have done doesn’t matter all that much. It proved your ability.

That in itself was a purpose of sorts. Rather a selfish one, you may think, but your first responsibility when young is to yourself. Societal responsibilities come later. You have become aware of them now. You consider the business of giving back to society some of what it has given you. But that can wait until later – perhaps even another twenty years.

Until then, what should you do? Stay with the business you know or make a change? Are you in demand enough to start afresh and make a fortune as so many of your peers seem to have done? Could you become a writer? People say your reports are very good. Could you learn a new trade? Perhaps a spell as a University Professor might suffice? You’d like to do something that the world considers worthwhile, that brings you enough money and that interests you. What could it be?

A lack of purpose up to now has been a pity but not disastrous. In the future it will prove more tiresome. A meander in the early years can seem rather like Alice in Wonderland. Later, it is more like Dante’s Inferno. Without purpose we do not fulfil our potential. There are several ways to make this discovery. The best is to do a PASDAQ™.

It helps you find your purpose for the rest of your career.

If you’d like a description of PASDAQ™ please email mentors@terrificmentors.com.