The best way to turn your middle-aged life around

Four steps to pursuing your dreams, whatever life stage you’re at

My favourite episode of Friends, the one that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud, is the one with the ‘pivot’. It is funny to watch Ross screaming to Rachel and Chandler, blindly, to move the sofa halfway up the steps, despite it looking like it’s going nowhere. For two reasons, I’m thinking of the Friends episode. Firstly, any excuse for a laugh after the past two years is welcome and, secondly, I’m currently at that corner, about to make the biggest pivot of my life so far.
I’ve been a medical doctor since the age of 22, and 20 years later, I’ve decided I’m going to do something else. I can assure you that it’s easier to say than to actually do. This is a big decision that requires a lot of thought and discussion. Word documents, Post-its and napkins have served as my lists of pros and cons. Here I am now, having made the decision to make a pivot in my midlife.
And I’m not the only one. According to research from London Business School, 47% of UK adults would like to make a career change. Many people want to change their careers in midlife. They are motivated by a desire for a sense and purpose.
I’m scared. It was a fulfilling career that I enjoyed. Understanding the fact that I am not able to practice medicine is proving difficult for me. I’ve realised that all these years of listening, caring, thinking, and worrying, have taken their toll on me and my own health.Thanks to lots of talking and inner work, I understand that it’s OK to say I want to do something else. As I make my way deep into the unknown, and if you are considering a visit here too, here are the things that I’ve found helpful so far.

1. Both pros and cons

Writing it down can help you to clear your head. Make it again. Your views will change on any given day  – tiredness, hormones, or something you’ve read, might all sway your point of view, so revisit this list. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

2. Take your time

My pivot has been on my mind for longer than I’d like to admit. Often, I’ve felt more conflicted and cross with myself for having these thoughts and then doing nothing about them. Complex decisions take time, and you don’t need to put further pressure on yourself by watching the calendar.

3. Think about who you are talking to

My husband has listened to my career dilemmas for almost as long as I’ve had them. My career was very different from mine and this gave me an even wider view. It is possible to get the right response by talking with people in your industry or business who are satisfied and happy with their current career. Not because they don’t want to or they don’t care, but often they can’t because they aren’t in your headspace.

4. It may be about a ‘grand plan’, but it’s really about you

My next chapter is a dream of mine. I’ve started my supplement company, Noggin The Brain People, to help people understand how important lifestyle is; both for how we feel and for looking after our brain health at every stage of our lives. I am also finally pursuing my passion to write – I’ve been writing a memoir and signed with a literary agent in December. There are no guarantees. That is something you have to accept first. As author Anne Lamott writes: “There is almost nothing outside of you that will help you feel happier in any lasting way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date serenity and peace of mind.”
Even if I don’t get all the way to the top of the stairs, I know I will have listened to myself, and embraced my mid-life pivot.
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