By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I'm in my 40s and wondering if I picked the wrong career track. I don't know what else I might want to do, but I feel bored and irritated more often than I ever did when I was young and idealistic. What should I do?
A. When I advise clients in a midlife crisis who think they have climbed the wrong ladder on the wrong wall, I recommend that they make a list of all hobbies they have ever day dreamed about exploring. Then I urge them to sign up to find out what they think of these daydreams in their waking worlds.
Many of us ignore our daydreams as flights of fancy without realizing that these recurrent fantasies always contain themes about experiences that would feed our souls. What we would be really good at usually has an enormous draw for us. We often end up discarding these ideas as silly when they are be exactly what would be both lucrative and emotionally rewarding for us.
Even if you decide not to change careers completely, exploring hobbies that have always fascinated you will infuse your current career with new appeal and skills. Everything from singing opera or taking acting classes to trying your hand at water colors will develop talents you will definitely use in your workplace.
If you do find a hobby that rocks your world, you have plenty of time to consider ways to make money at doing something in that world. Most of the career inventory tests are actually based on the idea of thinking about who you would want to hang out with at a party. What research has demonstrated is that interest is more important than initial ability or skills.
At a party, would talk to the artists, the scientists, or some other career group? The best way to find out is to get involved with those people as a hobby. In our exceptionally connected world, it is relatively easy to find places and ways to connect to people doing almost anything you can conceive of learning about.
Since it sounds like you currently have a stable job, you have the luxury of taking your time to leisurely walk down the paths of many hobbies. Don't get stuck worrying if you don't like some of the hobbies you first select. Sometimes the daydream is better than the reality.
With each hobby you explore you are learning about yourself and your abilities. Even if you don't finish a class or make a career out of something you try, you are getting out into the world and discovering new aspects of yourself.
A wonderful aspect of turning a daydream into a plan is that you will have more energy for everything else you are currently doing. Ironically, in all the listening classes I have ever taught to executives, the most common deficiency is not failing to listen to others but rather failing to listen to ourselves. When you give yourself permission to go after a hobby you have always craved, you support the most important person to listen to: yourself.
The last word(s)
Q. My boss says I don't listen to him. I listen to him but I don't agree with him. Can't I point out to him that there is a difference between listening and agreeing?
A. Yes, but only if you can immediately show him results that he will care about greatly. He is paying you to do things his way even if you disagree - unless you can shower him with benefits he wants.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the November 16, 2014 - November 29, 2014 edition.