Do you experience a fear of loss, when you realise that your days are numbered in your current job, position, and career? Is this sense of loss mingled with anticipation and excitement? Lots of bonuses will soon be yours: No more back-to-back meetings, no more answering emails on vacation, no more power games, luxury to dispose of your time as you wish.
So why is the joy tainted with anxiety? Why are you struggling with the feeling that you are now entering a grey zone? Why are you feeling defined by the fact that this is the last segment of your life?
Several factors are in play, mostly pushing you in antagonist directions, so no wonder that the result is uncomfortable, if not painful. Let’s try to untangle the inner conflict that undermines your energy and obscures your future.
There is no script. You are on your own
As a professional and a person, you’ve been motivated. Always. Through thick and thin, you knew where you wanted to be: Grow, climb the ladder, get a better job, launch a new company, or a new project, succeed, fail, rebound, and mainly stay in the game.
While you owe all these achievements to yourself, there is a blueprint for this. From student to junior to high potential to senior professional, the direction is clear and unmistakable. It is a growth pattern, and growing is an attribute of life. Every day you are exposed to stories that inspire you and show you what is possible. In your magnificent way, you realised your potential despite – and sometimes thanks to- the hurdles and backlashes thrown at you.
When your career comes to an end, there is no script. Not anymore. Language like “Golden years” (coined in the seventies to sell real estate to retirees) or “Silver power” (marketing term for a growing consumer segment) sounds phoney. Besides, what does it have to do with you?
It has a lot to do with expectations
For decades, you were supposed to work your ass off and grow. You were encouraged to do so. The work culture had your back.
At the end of your career, no one expects you to deliver. You may get lost in a space deprived of reference points. You are like a wagon decoupled from the train. The train goes without you. It is a relief, and it feels like an injustice at the same time.
People around you tell you repeatedly how lucky you will be, getting ample time for golfing, travelling, gardening, painting, yoga-ing, biking, learning languages, enjoying family time, and doing the things you love. The more they praise your soon-to-be happiness, the more confused you feel. Not that there is anything wrong with these activities. The confusion comes from the lack of purpose.
It is time to get real, brave, and creative
How do you build a house without a blueprint? You don’t. You’ve got to create a blueprint for yourself. Honestly assess your beliefs about who you are, your place in your world, and your values. You want to let go of a persona that beautifully served you in the past but is no longer who you want to be. Explore what makes you feel alive and driven. Be curious and open. Once you get this clarity, it is time to draw your blueprint and jump into action. It is scary. And it is so exciting. The difference is, this time, you are the architect, the builder, and the proud owner of a beautiful, unique work in progress.