Gosh, when I was 16, forty was Old! Not just old…but Ooooooooooold. And here I am, not just forty, but on the upswing to fifty. At the time I am writing this, I will be celebrating my 47th birthday next week. It’s almost incomprehensible to me. And it makes me appreciate the cliché that, age is just a number. I get it now. Like, I really, REALLY get it. I would never go back to twenty. Or even thirty for that matter. Because, for me, life really started getting exciting at forty.
But it didn’t begin there. In fact, in several areas of my life, the beginning of my forties began with a lot of heartache, despair and a feeling that I just didn’t know where or who I was anymore. I understand why people have mid-life crises. Because that was me. I didn’t go out a buy a convertible Camaro (Red. With a back stripe down the hood and a black top with black leather interior – I didn’t get it, but I certainly did think about it an awful lot.) Instead, I got a red convertible Beetle. The car I dreamed about when I was 16 years old but could never afford. I named her Lola Beatle and she was my mid-life crisis car. Have you gotten yours yet?
In this series of posts, I would like to share with you how I was able to flip the script on my forties. My hope is that if you are at or near your forties and feel that it’s too late to start –you will realize that your forties do not have to be the beginning of the end, but simply the beginning.
For me, for my family, we started over in three significant areas of our lives in our forties. We started our family over at forty, we began to really turn our finances around in our mid-forties and I started a new career recently, nearing 47. These were all BIG changes. Changes many would never make at this stage in life for a lot of reasons, fear, complacency, or simply not knowing how. Change is hard. Change is scary. REALLY really scary sometimes. But doable. SO DOABLE.
In this first post, I want to share how I started my career change. Out of all of the areas of my life this is the one that took the longest. It was a seven-year journey, full of hills and long, deep and sorrow-filled valleys. The journey was long, but the moment I knew I needed a career change is vividly clear.
At the time, I had just begun a law partnership with a someone I considered one of my best friends. Mistake number one. We were two very different people and, while that was great for a friendship, not so much for business. We were six months into our partnership and my family was on a short vacation in San Diego. I was sitting on a beach reading a book and something in the book caused me to recall a negative comment my partner had made to me about our choice to adopt. In that moment, I knew that I had to leave the partnership. That our differences in family commitments, personal beliefs and business dynamic were already so far apart, that it was not going to last. That the sooner we dissolved it, even if painful, the better.
And it WAS painful. My partner did not understand, though I tried to explain. She was hurt. And I get that – I would have been too if the roles were reversed. She had no idea it was coming. Sadly, we never recovered. And even now, it is a loss that still hurts my heart.
At the same time, I began to be dissatisfied with practicing law. I was in the beginning stages of burnout. Though I was making a decent income, enjoyed my colleagues and running my own practice immensely – I knew that the end of the runway was coming. What followed was four years of soul-searching. Knowing that I needed to find a new career – but unsure of what “that” was. I combed the internet for careers. Thought long and hard about what I thought I was good at, what I thought I wanted and I arrived at entering corporate America as an executive. I was certain I would be successful and if I played my cards right, I would land a position in a company that allowed International travel – which was a huge bonus.
I was accepted into the Executive MBA program at my alma mater, Arizona State University, which had an International component and I began my studies. It was exhilarating. I enjoyed being in a learning environment – I thrived engaging with my classmates, many that were already executives and feeling that I belonged. I had found my place.
The year prior to my entry into the MBA program we adopted our first foster-child. He was almost two years old when I began the program. I was in my second month of the program when our world was rocked upside down with the news that my son had two little brothers in foster-care – it was a sucker punch we never saw coming. CPS wanted us to take them. It changed everything. They were 13-months old and a brand-new three-week-old baby. When they asked, there was no hesitation. Our choice was clear, we had to take the babies. Our son deserved to know his brothers and they deserved to know him. The whole adventure of their arrival and departure was one of the most precious and grief-filled periods of my life and too much to go into detail here, this is, after all a post about career-change…(you can read about it, though, if you want to HERE.) but I digress…
Getting the babies meant I had to choose. And I chose them. There was no other option. I could not run my law practice, care for three babies under 2 and also continue pursuing my MBA. Though the choice was clear, I was still devastated. I was SO SURE. I was SO SURE I had found my path. I had prayed and prayed for answers and so when I was accepted into the MBA program – I believed that was the answer. It was not. That realization was painful, so very painful.
Our lives were consumed with the babies and after the babies left, two more babies came to us by the grace of God. They ended up being THE answer, but I was still so filled with grief about the loss of Jaycob’s brothers and having to give up on my MBA, that I did not know that my boys were going to lead us to the answer at the time. (If you are lost about the growth of our family – I know, it IS complicated – start here and read all 6 parts. It will all make sense.)
It was during that whole tumultuous time that I realized all I wanted was to have more time with my kids. I missed out on so much with my older two that I knew I wanted it to be different for our little boys. The quandary was that I was still the bread-winner and our family relied on my income. The pull to be home with my boys became almost unbearable. It was then that I began researching how I could both have my practice and be at home. I applied for a contract that would allow me to largely work from home. Several months later I was excited to learn I had gotten it. I was now able to earn the income our family was accustomed to – but also allowed me more time with my children. It was perfect. Almost.
We were now at year five of my mid-life career-crisis journey. By this time, my husband had found a position in San Diego, something that we had dreamed of for years. We were delighted to also learn that due to his increased income and health benefits, we were in a much better position financially. And because I was primarily working from home, we were able to relocate to San Diego without a significant decrease in our income. I continued to work my practice in Phoenix, making the drive between Phoenix and San Diego whenever I needed to.
But we were miserable, not with our life in San Diego – that was near perfect, but with the drain my traveling took on all of us. I was also at the breaking point. I was approaching full burn-out and my practice was suffering. My mental-health was affected. My children were impacted every time I had to leave. The travel was straining my marriage. It was time to do something.
I went back to the drawing board. I took inventory of my skills and what I wanted out of a career. Becoming a full-time stay-at-home-mom was not an option, nor a desire if I am 100% honest, though I knew that if I did not figure something out soon – I was not going to be able to make the choice to quit, it would be made for me. So, I sat again on the beach. That is MY place. I took a mental note of all the things I knew I wanted. I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted a career that I could have unlimited income potential and one that I would not have to spend a fortune going back to school for.
Real Estate! Becoming a Realtor checked every box for me. I had briefly been licensed in Phoenix but had not done much with it. I knew that I could do it if I was focused, and committed to treating it as a business. So, I purchased the courses, studied extremely hard and got my license.
I am now six months into my real estate career and I am seeing it grow every single day. I am slowly winding down my law practice and anticipate I will be able to retire it after I have completed the handful of cases that remain on my caseload.
I turn 47 next week. Just a year ago, I saw the end of the runway approaching faster and faster. I was running out of time and catastrophe was ahead. Today, I am hopeful. I am invigorated. I am excited to grow my real estate business. I foresee the future we have planned for our kids. I am home with them and they are thriving. I am also fulfilled as a working mom, an entrepreneur. I get the best of both worlds. The best ME in both those worlds. And it’s just the beginning.
If you’re scared. I know. Starting over is scary. Scary hard. Fo-shizzle! But – the one thing I learned through this tumultuous journey is this…stand firm. When your whole world is crumbling around you, and you are full of fear. Stand firm in it. Because it will pass. The fear will subside and it will be replaced with resolve. And as soon as you find your resolve – then you take action. You are in charge of your life – it is up to you to change it.
Love and Prosperity,