My Mt. Everest | September 2007 Newsletter

My Mount Everest: September, 2007
Merle M. Singer, Founder

When Demosthenes was asked what was the first part of oratory, he answered, “Action;” and which was the second, he replied, “Action;” and which was the third, he still answered, “Action.”

Lives of the Ten Orators.


I have a friend that asked me to write some advice about mid life career change. First, let me be clear that I am not giving advice. Mostly because I’m always in the middle figuring it all out myself – whatever “it” is, which I also haven’t figured out.

Is it Time for a Change?

I do have thoughts about changing careers – anytime in your life. My thought is that if you are thinking about it, you probably should consider it.

When I was younger, conventional wisdom said that you ought to find a good company to work for – one that has mega benefits -and hang on for the ride. At one time, multiple jobs reflected poorly on your resume. That may still be somewhat true; however, the definition of “multiple” has expanded, significantly. Plus, we need to remember that the biggest increase in United States business has been the entire segment of small (and tiny) business and entrepreneurs, and you don’t need a resume to start your own business. The great thing about creating a business for yourself is that you can tailor it to your interests, and you can start it without quitting your job.

Permission Start on the Inside

But something comes first. First, you have to do your psychological and spiritual homework. You have to give yourself permission to undock from the mother ship. For those that have found a job with great benefits, thinking of leaving the cushy job seems tantamount to insanity or suicide. But, it just “seems” that way. Really, adolescents do it all the time. They pick up and leave the comfort of their family home in search of their own adventures.

I recently met a woman at a seminar that I attended. She made the leap. She had worked for a large entertainment company in charge of their strategic planning. This was not a “chopped liver” job. She earned six figures, got benefits, and she loved her job. Except… Except, her inner guidance system said that it was time to go. Now she has her own consulting business and is moving toward her own TV show. It will happen for her – big.

How Did I Get Here?

What brings someone to the brink of change and motivates him/her to jump is different for different people. Sometimes it’s a trauma: a life threatening illness survived, an accident, a crime, a broken relationship, etc.. But sometimes it’s the haunting feeling in the back of your mind that you are missing something and you haven’t a clue what it is. That’s the toughest, because your decision to move on is not as easily defensible to the larger community. Of course, that’s based on the belief that you need to defend yourself or explain.

And isn’t the fact that you want to move on enough? Isn’t wanting – that aching desire – to move on the same as being called to find a new direction in your life? Isn’t being called, that same being called as those that are called to a religious life?

We honor the beaconing to church, but many of us deny this very same drive or call to anything else. In fact, we obfuscate our dream or passion. Instead, we say that we don’t know what we want, and we do nothing.

Action, Action, Action.

Whereas, I operate on the theory that if you don’t know what you want to do, do something, anything. Figure out what you like, don’t like, and adjust. Please don’t wait around till you figure out what your passion is. I mean if you’ve taken the various vocations tests, read the various spiritual books, and still haven’t figured it out, DO something, anything. If thinking doesn’t trigger the action, stop thinking and start doing. For you, it may be that action is the trigger to your thought/passion.

This Process of Elimination Approach© has seemed to work for me. I started out as a teacher by crossing out what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be a secretary, accountant, doctor, and I ended up not willing to go to three more years of school to be a lawyer. I didn’t like classroom teaching, so I got my Masters and became a reading specialist. That’s how it has happened throughout my life, including part-time working while full-time family raising. And here I am again, embarking on what is next. The more experience I have in life (euphemism for the older I get) the more respectful I am of my intuition and the less demanding of myself for back-up reasons.

Be Strong Enough to Use Help

I think the biggest changes that have come in my life, started after I first asked for help. Help can be a psychiatrist, a counselor, a coach, an internship, Toastmasters, creating your own mastermind group. I’ve done them all, and I highly recommend them. All – singly and combined.

Be Flexible

Sometimes, life can get in the way of our dreams. Many parents have had to put aside them own dreams to care for a chronically sick child. Sometimes parents need our help. Just pay attention. Sometimes we use our loved ones’ needs as excuses for not taking our own chances, but sometimes not.

If leaving a job is not feasible, you are not off the hook. Life isn’t supposed to be a prison, not even a pleasant-job-with-mega-benefits prison. The worst prison is the prison of your mind. You have the key to that prison door within you; unlock it. You can still challenge yourself to carve out one hour a day, or one hour a week, at least. Use that time for yourself. It may mean sitting in the park by yourself. It may mean writing for an hour, it may mean Internet research, or library research. There are no rules for this hour except the rules you impose.

The Theory of Restart

Be mindful of the Theory of Restart that says that during the establishment of a habit (in this case the habit of honoring your deepest needs) we may have many false starts before we establish Habit Muscle Memory. So if you forget that daily/weekly hour this week start again next week, and start again, and start again until you have established this habit. No stopping allowed; restart. The Rule of Restart doesn’t address how many times you’ve stopped; it honors that more times you have restarted.

So, my friend on the brink of change, evaluate clearly. Be it from your job or within it, close your eyes and jump. Whoopeeeee!!!!!!!