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How to Answer Your Call in Mid-Life

By Craig Nathanson

Craig Nathanson is The Vocational Coach™ and the author of the book, P Is For Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day by Bookcoach Press.

Hank Bochenski’s story proves it is never too late to walk away from a life you feel trapped in and do something that you really love.

Hank spent 30 years in demanding senior positions at large high-tech companies. By the time he went home each day, he felt like all the blood had been drained out of him.

Hank’s real passion was his collection of more than 1,000 movies. He had recently spent hours converting the collection from VHS to DVD, a process he enjoyed. One day his wife walked by as he worked on this project and said, “It’s too bad you can’t make money doing this.” Before his wife’s offhand remark, he hadn’t considered that he could do this full time.

He did some research and found a company called Home Video Studio Inc., in Indianapolis. HVS offers 21 services, including DVD transfers, DVD duplications, home movie transfers, photo-video keepsakes, sports scholarship videos and videotape repair.

Hank and his wife did some due diligence and decided that this was a perfect opportunity for them and they went ahead and got into the video duplication business. And to top it all off, Hank's studio is in his own home--no more 1.5-hour each way daily commute.

What Happens in Mid-Life?

Mid-life is a time of challenges and crossroads. Often we re-evaluate our relationships, become more concerned about our health or worry about whether we are as financially secure as we should be. The biggest challenges in mid-life often involve our careers, and more centrally, whether our careers are providing the fulfillment we crave, or are simply exhausting us physically and emotionally. In mid-life, fulfillment and meaning begin to compete with paychecks and perks, and the paycheck and perks usually win.

Answering the Call to Vocational Passion

Before you can take action to change the course of your life and pursue your vocational passion, it is critical to take an inventory of your life and what is really important. You must begin by understanding what is missing. You need to have a dream and a plan for achieving it.

Start by making a list of the things that are missing in your life. Is it a passion from your youth that you can never find time to pursue? Is it music, a sport, writing, cooking, activism, entrepreneurship, working with kids? It doesn’t matter, as long as it is something you long to do, and have enough passion to do it full time.

You need to understand not only where your passion is, but also where your strengths lie. Make a list of the things you are passionate about, and then narrow the list to those items that present an opportunity to generate income. An interest in rock climbing suggests opening a store that sells climbing equipment. Perhaps some past volunteer work with disabled kids leads to earning a certificate to teach full time.

Once you’ve narrowed your list and have matched your aptitudes and interests, it’s time to take a good look at your support network. Do you know people who care about what you are passionate about? If not, what organizations or social networks could you tap into to build a better personal network to help you make your big vocational change?

Begin the Journey with a Lighter Backpack

Finally, you need to think about money--how it comes in and where it goes.

Treat your money with more respect. Making better choices in how you spend your money will make it easier to free yourself to change the direction of your life.

Examine ways to “lighten your backpack.” Do you really need 100 cable channels? How many shoes, credit cards and watches does it take to make you happy? Would life be any more difficult if you drove a used Toyota instead of a brand new Lexus?

These are the kinds of questions that Hank Bochenski and his family asked themselves as they made the difficult but ultimately rewarding decision to “throw it all away” for a simpler yet more fulfilling lifestyle. Hank is much happier. He is having fun every day. And while his income may be more modest than before, his family is living comfortably. His pursuit of vocational passion has cost him little materially, yet the spiritual dividends have been immense.

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