As the head of client development—and one of the very few women in a managing role—at Smith Barney Morgan Stanley, I had a lucrative career in finance, and 25 years of experience under my belt.
But, in my mid-50s, I was ready for something different.
I’d spent years advising people through their retirements, and I noticed that there were a lot of people in their 80s who’d worked in the same career their entire lives, and then looked back and thought, “Why didn’t I do something different? Why did I just keep going down this path?”
The answer: Because it was the easiest thing to do. It was the path of least resistance.
But the path of least resistance wasn’t the right one for me.
A Midlife Career Crossroads
My favorite Mark Twain quote comes to mind: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I wanted to make a difference in the world—to use the talents I’d acquired to do something that I was passionate about.
I was ready to catch those trade winds. But I wasn’t ready to retire.
I was in my 50s, with more energy than I had 20 years before, so I had no interest in hitting a ball on a golf course for the rest of my days. I wanted to make a difference in the world—to be fully engaged and use the skills and talents I’d acquired over the years to do something that I was passionate about.
As soon as I made up my mind, I was ready to quit my job and start this new life immediately. That’s how I do things—I get fired up and then go full steam ahead. But as I was talking to a friend over coffee about my plan (which wasn’t really a plan at all), she told me about New Directions, a company that helps people at my stage of life figure out what to do next. “It’s career and retirement coaching,” she said. I was skeptical, but I had to admit that I didn’t really know where to start.
So I made an appointment. What did I have to lose?